New vaccine centre of excellence launched at Bristol University

A new vaccine research centre has opened at Bristol University, The Pfizer Centre of Excellence for Epidemiology of Vaccine-preventable Diseases will focus entirely on vaccine research and development. 

The health secretary was in attendance for the unveiling of the centre, said to be the first of its kind outside the United States. 

An initial £4.6 million investment from Pfizer will be used to conduct population-based hospital studies in real world settings and evaluate the impact of disease preventable infectious diseases affecting adults, including the elderly, as well as children. Research will also take place to develop future generation of vaccines.  

Professor Adam Finn, Lead of the Pfizer Centre of Excellence for Epidemiology of Vaccine-preventable Diseases, 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.” 

Virologists from the University of Bristol were among the first in the world to work on “live” coronavirus samples and became the first UK team to publish research findings, just five weeks after receiving the samples from Public Health England.  

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. 

“Well-conducted clinical population-based epidemiological research studies in adults is a critical component to better understanding the role that direct and potentially indirect effects of vaccination may have in reducing the impact and consequences of infectious diseases – insights which are perhaps more valuable than ever against the backdrop of this terrible pandemic. 

“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.” 

The first research projects will look at pneumococcal disease, Clostridium difficile and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). AvonCAP (community acquired pneumonia), and a population-based study will be carried out looking at every adult patient admitted to Bristol’s two large NHS hospitals with symptoms, signs and/or X-ray evidence of acute disease in the lungs.