Global collaborations and strengths in basic science revealed in new
WINNIPEG, Sept. 5, 2012 /CNW/ - Many Canadians don't know it but Canada
is a major contributor to global efforts to develop an HIV vaccine.
An analysis of HIV vaccine research over the past five years (2007-2012)
shows that Canada is first per capita in the number of articles
published when compared to other leading nations involved in
HIV-vaccine research (i.e., United States, United Kingdom, France and
South Africa). What's more, Canada ranks fourth globally in the total
number of scholarly articles published on HIV vaccine-related research.
"Canada's research output compares favorably to world leading countries
in HIV-vaccine development," says Dr. Greg Hammond, director of the
Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI) Research and Development
Alliance Coordinating Office (ACO). "Canada's global role in HIV
vaccine research is also evident in the world-class scientific
collaborations involving Canadian researchers."
Of the published HIV vaccine-related research involving Canadian
scientists over the past five years, approximately 90 per cent was
collaborative in nature, involving either multiple Canadian
institutions or researchers worldwide. Among these collaborative
efforts, Canadian scientists appeared as first and/or last authors on
approximately 72 per cent of published articles, revealing the
leadership and impact of Canadian research.
With the support of SHI Consulting Inc., the ACO recently consulted with
HIV vaccine researchers, industry, funders, and non-profit
organizations across Canada and the United States for strategic
direction on Canada's ongoing contribution. It subsequently released a
White Paper, entitled Building Linkages, Achieving Impact: A Framework to Guide the Canadian
HIV Vaccine Research and Development Alliance, which highlights Canada's strengths in HIV vaccine research and the
direction moving forward.
Meanwhile, a recent Probe Research poll, also commissioned by the ACO,
shows that 81 per cent of Canadians think Canada should play a major
role in international efforts to develop an HIV vaccine. Of the 1,500
people surveyed, 19 per cent viewed it as a top priority and 62 per
cent saw it as a major priority*.
"Canadians want Canada to be involved in finding a vaccine to stop the
HIV pandemic," says Heather Medwick, CEO of the International Centre
for Infectious Diseases - a not-for-profit, non-governmental
organization that runs the ACO. "Even though most of the 34 million
people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries, HIV is
a major concern in developed nations like Canada where the rate of new
infections has increased dramatically among vulnerable populations over
the past decade."
To help find a vaccine, Canadian HIV scientists have largely focused
their research efforts on the basic biology of HIV, specifically
publishing articles in the fields of immunology (how the immune system
responds), virology (how HIV is transmitted), and microbiology (how
the virus invades and reproduces in the cell).
"Understanding these basic building blocks of HIV infection is essential
to vaccine development. So while Canadian researchers have not been as
actively involved in clinical trials that test vaccines, they feed the
global research pipeline leading to development and screening of HIV
vaccine candidates," says Dr. Allan Ronald, the ACO's scientific
With Canada's performance record in mind, the ACO used a consultative
process to develop the strategic White Paper, which identifies the
following four, high-level priorities that will set the stage for
Canada's future role in HIV-vaccine development:
Harness Canada's excellence in basic science and strengthen linkages
across research areas and with the community;
Continue to build on Canada's strengths in clinical research, community
engagement and capacity-building globally and nationally;
Accelerate the translation of Canada's scientific discoveries into
viable vaccine candidates; and
Provide resources and engage young and early-career investigators.
The framework outlined in the White Paper is intended to influence
decision-making and direct Canada's HIV vaccine research efforts
nationally and globally, but it is not meant to prescribe specific
targets or timelines.
"The process to develop the White Paper reflects the shared aspirations
of funders, global research organizations, the HIV community, and
Canadian researchers. It will help to build upon Canada's niche and
further amplify Canada's contribution to global HIV vaccine research
efforts," Hammond says.
The CHVI, Canada's contribution to the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, is
a five-year collaborative initiative between the Government of Canada
and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and represents a significant
Canadian contribution to global efforts to develop a safe, effective,
affordable and globally accessible HIV vaccine. The CHVI Research and
Development Alliance Coordinating Office (ACO) was established by the
Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in
November 2011 at the International Centre for Infectious Diseases
(ICID), a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization based in
Winnipeg, Manitoba. The ACO is funded by the Public Health Agency of
*The national survey by Probe Research Inc. was conducted between July 4th and 6th, 2012 on 1,500 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid
Forum panelists. Because the sample is based on those who
self-selected for participation in this research panel, no sampling
error can be calculated. However, a probability sample of this size
would yield a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
For details, read the backgrounder
SOURCE: Alliance Coordinating Office
For further information:
Communications Specialist, Alliance Coordinating Office
International Centre for Infectious Diseases