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Pfizer launches Vaccine Centre of Excellence at the University of Bristol

The Centre of Excellence, based at Bristol University, is the first of its kind outside the US and is the second in Pfizer’s planned global network of sites.

By Filiz Emily Gurer, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Centre of Excellence, based at the University of Bristol, is the first of its kind outside the US and is the second in Pfizer’s planned global network of sites.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, visited the University of Bristol today, appearing alongside the University’s Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady to open Pfizer’s new research centre.

The Pfizer Centre of Excellence for Epidemiology of Vaccine-preventable Diseases is launching with an initial investment of £4.6 million from Pfizer.

The centre will be led by Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Bristol, Director of the Bristol Vaccine Centre at Bristol Medical School and lead of Bristol UNCOVER (Bristol COVID Emergency Research Group).

Pfizer’s Centres of Excellence are a global program of collaborations with academic institutions to conduct real-world epidemiological research.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock commented that Pfizer's decision to base its second vaccine research centre in the UK was a ‘real vote of confidence in the country.’

The new centre in Bristol will undertake research into specific vaccine-preventable diseases, and support the development of next-generation vaccines.

On his visit to the University today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock met with virologists Dr Andrew Davidson and Dr David Matthews.

The two Bristol academics were the only team at any UK university who were studying “live” human coronaviruses at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and were the first UK academics to publish research based on laboratory studies of the live human SARS-CoV-2 virus, within a few weeks of receiving samples from Public Health England.

Speaking about the new centre, Professor Adam Finn said: ‘Global research efforts are needed to help us better define and understand vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccine effectiveness.

‘I am immensely proud to be part of this new partnership at a time when it has never been more critical for industry and academia to work together to overcome the plight of infectious diseases.’

Dr Luis Jodar, Senior Vaccine President and Chief Medical Officer for Vaccines at Pfizer, said: ‘Through Pfizer's strategically located centres of excellence and the collaboration with local academic institutions, which have world-class expertise, we aim to better define and understand global disease burden in adults and vaccine effectiveness against a broad number of infectious diseases of public health importance.

‘...We're proud to have partnered with the University of Bristol to open Pfizer's first centre of epidemiological excellence outside of the US. The findings from research already underway at this centre will provide supporting evidence to inform recommendations on the use of vaccines worldwide. This investment is also a demonstration of Pfizer's ongoing commitment to the UK's thriving life sciences sector.’

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Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of Bristol, added: ‘We are honoured to have been selected by Pfizer as one of its global vaccine centres of excellence. Bristol’s expertise, collaborative links with two NHS Trusts and other health partners make it uniquely placed for conducting world-leading vaccine research.

‘This partnership not only marks a major milestone for Bristol's role in improving global public health, it also builds on our region’s historic legacy in population health, public health and vaccine research.’

The launch of the Centre of Excellence at the University of Bristol, follows the 2020 opening of Pfizer’s first Centre of Excellence at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, in the US.

Featured Image: BBC Points West

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