The need was felt among the researchers of both Vaxinfectio and CenStat to set up a more comprehensive research and education plan of action in the field of evidence based vaccinology, as part of the overall research plan of the Methusalem consortium. It was opted to establish a scientific chair, in order to make it possible to attract funding from various sources, including from private sector.
The promotor of the Chair is Prof. Dr. Philippe Beutels, head of the Centre for Health Economics Research and Modelling Infectious Diseases (CHERMID); Prof. Dr. Pierre Van Damme, head of the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination (CEV) and chairman of VAXINFECTIO, acts as co-promotor of the Chair. The Scientific Chair in Evidence Based Vaccinology (EBV) was officially established by decision of the UAntwerp Board of Directors (Bestuurscollege) on December 9, 2008. Funding for the EBV Chair has meanwhile been secured from Pfizer.
Holder of the EBV Chair
As of 1st February 2009, Niel Hens has been selected as holder of the Chair. He has been appointed as 50% Associate Professor, and combines this assignment with presently a position as associate professor at the University of Hasselt. He holds a PhD in science (mathematics) and he has an excellent track record in terms of research and education. His doctoral research has been on the crossroads between the disciplines of medicine, mathematics and statistics. His curriculum lists several international awards, refereeing for international peer reviewed scientific journals, supervising PhD students, publications as first author, presentations at international conferences, workshops and symposia, as well as involvement in large research projects. In 2016, he became holder of an ERC advanced grant.
Scientific objectives of the EBV Chair
The EBV Chair will support research into improved estimation methods to establish the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of vaccination programmes, including pneumococcal conjugate vaccine programmes, as well as medical education in evidence based vaccinology.
The scientific aim of this Chair is to raise the level of scientific research in the area of evidence based vaccinology, in order to match the growing scientific interests from academics and industry, and in order to achieve a high level of independent research in this area.
Activities developed by the EBV Chair
Since its conception the Scientific Chair in Evidence-based Vaccinology resulted in the organization of 6 annual courses and 6 workshops, the completion of 2 joint PhDs, more than 90 A1-publications, 1 monograph and 2 book chapters.
Whereas the EBV-Chair is not sponsored by Methusalem funding, it is the catalyst for the Methusalem collaboration between VAXINFECTIO and Censtat. From the start of the Methusalem consortium CenStat and LMM have initiated and extended collaboration, more specifically in the area of antibiotic use and resistance resulting in 15 A1-publications. Later on, CenStat and LEH started to collaborate on studying differences in migration, survival and immunogenicity following cell grafting in CNS tissue resulting in 7 A1-publications to date.