I would like to welcome you to the first edition of the ZikaPLAN newsletter.
This regular newsletter will provide you with information about the ZikaPLAN working group activities, events, publications and includes an important section covering cross-consortia news from ZikAction, ZikAlliance and ZikaPLAN.
As ZikaPLAN Director, I am extremely excited that we were able to launch this project last October. It was significant that our kick-off meeting took place in Recife, the very site where the first case control studies related to the unusual ‘outbreak’ of microcephaly were conducted. This productive meeting allowed the different working groups to meet, exchange and get to know each other better.
Already the many activities undertaken by the ZikaPLAN partners have led to rich interaction with our stakeholders, in particular with the World Health Organization (WHO) who have hosted stimulating meetings on the harmonization of protocols; on clinical studies and data sharing; on sexual transmission and on long-term disability due to Zika. Indeed, it is a sign of our international standing that so many ZikaPLAN partners are being invited to these pivotal WHO meetings.
Other key activities have also been launched including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine MOOC and the setting up of a network of 10 hospitals in Colombia with hospitals in Brazil to study the neurological complications of Zika.
Another extremely positive step forward is that the ethics approvals, which as we know can be the cause of initial delays, have already been obtained for most of the projects under ZikaPLAN.
A vital and integral element of ZikaPLAN is the collaboration with the other EU funded Zika consortia: ZikAction and ZikAlliance. This is demonstrated by the development of common structures such as the communication plan, governance, and meetings (see our article regarding the mathematical modelers' meeting in London). A clear, shared aim is also to build up a Latin American network of research preparedness for Zika and beyond.
Moreover, foremost in this common collaboration is the harmonization of our clinical study protocols and the identification of both common and consortia-specific variables. To this end, a meeting was held at the University of Heidelberg on February 21-23, 2017 (see the events section of this newsletter).
The first joint symposium for the three EU funded consortia will be held at the European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH) in Antwerp in October 2017.
I am thrilled that the next consortium meeting will be held in Cuba (August 2017). Our meeting coincides with the Zika/dengue course organized by Dr Guzman at the Instituto Medicina Tropical Pedro Kourí, our ZikaPLAN partner. This will be a unique opportunity to further enhance our networks within Latin American.
ZikaPLAN Scientific Coordinator
ZikaPLAN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 734584.