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International Vaccine Institute and KNUST establish collaborating center for vaccine research and development

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The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) opened the KNUST-IVI Collaborating Center today with a ceremony at KNUST/ Agogo Presbyterian Hospital.

The KNUST-IVI Collaborating Center will be a research and training site to implement ongoing and new collaborative projects, including disease surveillance, vaccine clinical development, vaccination campaigns, and vaccine effectiveness and health economics studies for infectious diseases prevalent to the region such as typhoid and invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella.

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The KNUST-IVI Collaborating Center is the first of its kind, initiated by IVI to enable joint research, development, and capacity-building activities to achieve regional health objectives as well as the UN’s global goals.

Dr. Florian Marks, Principal Research Associate at the University of Cambridge and Deputy Director General at IVI, said: “After over a decade of working in close partnership with Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo and his team at KNUST, we are extremely pleased that IVI and KNUST have officially established a Collaborating Center to recognize our history of successful scientific cooperation and to set the stage for future global health impact. We look forward to continuing our work toward a shared vision of eliminating typhoid and other vaccine-preventable diseases in Ghana and beyond.”

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Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Principal Investigator and Pro Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, said: “Our true legacy is in how we aspire to inspire the next generation before we expire.”

H.E. Lim Jeong Taek, Korean Ambassador to Ghana, said: “I am very pleased to see the close research collaboration between IVI, KNUST, and Agogo Presbyterian Hospital, brought to fruition now with the opening of this collaborating center. The COVID-19 pandemic brings awareness to the need for the development of vaccines for COVID-19 and many other infectious diseases. COVID-19 also lets us know of the importance of strengthening vaccination and health systems in local communities, as well as enhanced international cooperation and solidarity for equitable access to vaccines.”

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Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Presidential Advisor on Health to the President of Ghana, said: “The need to continuously build evidence and generate data, particularly from Africa, is very key, hence, the need to build such centers that allow for continuous monitoring and evidence generation…On behalf of the government, I applaud and congratulate the partnership among KNUST, Agogo Presbyterian Hospital, IVI, and the government of Ghana for this achievement. Our hope is that the commission of this center will herald yet another ground-breaking scientific research to solve the many diseases that confront us as a country.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was moderated by Dr. Andrea Haselbeck, Senior Research Scientist at IVI, and Dr. Daniel Norris Bekoe, Head of University Relations at KNUST, and featured remarks from:

• Agogo Presbyterian Hospital Manager and Chaplain
• Prof. Yaw Adu-Sarkodie, Former Provost of College of Health Sciences, KNUST
• Mr. Alex Kessey, General Manager, Agogo Presbyterian Hospital
• Prof. Rita Akosua Dickson, Vice-Chancellor, KNUST
• Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General, IVI
• Honorable Mahama Asei Seini, Deputy Minister of Health, Ghana
• H.E. LIM Jeong Taek, Ambassador of Korea to Ghana
• Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Presidential Advisor on Health, Ghana
• Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director General, Ghana Health Service
• Dr. Duncan Steele, Deputy Director of Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
• Ms. Hyejin Jung, Country Representative, Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH)
• Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Principal Investigator and Pro Vice-Chancellor, KNUST
• Dr. Florian Marks, Principal Research Associate, University of Cambridge and Deputy Director General, IVI

Following the opening of the KNUST-IVI Collaborating Center, both parties will begin a mass vaccination campaign as consortium members of the Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine Introduction in Africa (THECA) program, which aims to assess the effectiveness of a typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) through two clinical studies, including a cluster-randomized trial in Ghana, to support the introduction of TCV into routine immunization programs in typhoid-endemic countries in Africa.

The vaccination campaign is set to start in July 2021, and more information on THECA.

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