Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Govt. of India in partnership with the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), organized a S20 Webinar on “An Integrated Approach to Combat Neo-Infections: A Way Forward, through Vaccines, Diagnostics and Therapeutics” today with deliberation from eminent speakers across the G-20 counties like Australia, US, UK, Canada, South Africa, European Union, Brazil and Indonesia. This S20 webinar focused on discussing a need for collaborative models that would help to strengthen and support research and development (R&D) in Vaccines, Therapeutics, and Diagnostics (VTDs).
During the G20 Presidency of India, the Science 20 or the S20 engagement group has planned a number of webinars and workshops on topics of current interest. The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) is coordinating the S20 activities under the overarching theme, “Disruptive Science for Sustainable Development” with three subthemes focussing on “Clean Energy for Greener Future”, “Universal Holistic Health”, and “Science for Society & Culture”. The emphasis is on the disruptive innovation aspect of science that identifies with the nature and essence of the overarching theme.
An important objective of the sustainable development is to increase the healthy life expectancy of all humans, while promoting well-being across the whole life course. Indeed, creating better global health would not only mean creating better medical infrastructure or ease of access in medical care, it would also require sustainable practices which would help enhance cumulative global health standards. The idea is to create awareness among various stakeholders about disease agonistic platforms for new drug development and develop cost-effective therapeutics for priority pathogens. This could be done through a network of R&D institutions across G20 countries which would function in tandem in sustainable manner and contribute to collective preparedness for thwarting future pandemics.
Sh. Rajneesh Tingal, Joint Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, in his opening remarks highlighted various initiatives taken by DoP to foster innovation in India and the need of strengthening research collaboration in vaccines, therapeutics & diagnostics. This was followed by welcome address by Ms. S. Aparna, Secretary, DoP & Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, President INSA & S20 Chair. During her welcome address, Ms. S. Aparna, highlighted the need of creation of Global R&D Network which will help to fight future pandemics. She also emphasized in designing a roadmap by identifying and setting up priority areas for collaboration, strengthening cooperation and partnership among G-20 countries in the arena of Early stage research on vaccines therapeutics and diagnostics for coordinated approaches in fighting emerging disease threats and capacity building in medical countermeasures with the vision of strengthening the global health architecture “One Earth, One Health, One Future”. Prof. Ashutosh Sharma depicted the role of S20 in furthering the agenda of G20 where science will have to play a key role to achieve the economic growth to pull millions of people out of poverty while ensuring that development is inclusive and sustainable.
S20 Webinar featured notable eminent speakers across the G-20 counties. The therapeutics session was moderated by Dr. Girish Sahni, Ex-Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India, involving speakers like Prof. Nicola Mulder, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Vishal Singh, Penn State University, Pennsylvania, United States, and Dr. Ahmed Aman, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Canada.
The vaccines session was moderated by Dr. Pramod Kumar Garg, Executive Director, THSTI, Faridabad, India involving Mr. Sourabh Sobti, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, United Kingdom, Prof. Nikolai Petrovsky, Vaxine Pty Ltd., Flinders Medical Centre, Australia, and Dr. Marco Aurélio Krieger, FIOCRUZ University, Brazil as eminent speakers.
Finally, the diagnostics session was moderated by Dr. Anup Anvikar, Director, National Institute of Biologicals (NIB), Noida, India with the engagement of Dr. Nivedita Gupta, Scientist F, ICMR, New Delhi, India, Dr. Vinay K. Nandicoori, Director, CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad, India, and Dr. Sara Frojdo, Senior Technology Officer, Business Intelligence, FIND, Diagnostics, Geneva, European Union.
Following this, a panel discussion for fireside chat was held, which was moderated by Prof. Narinder K. Mehra, Vice President (Int. Affairs), INSA, New Delhi, India with the engagement of peer-panelist across G20 countries representation from Prof. Nicola Mulder, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Prof. Satryo S. Brodjonegoro, Chairman, Indonesian Academy of Science, Indonesia, Prof. Anil Gulati, Chairman and CEO, Pharmazz Inc., United States.
Some of the key points deliberated by the esteemed speakers included:
Creating a collaborative ecosystem for turning discovery into beneficial therapeutics.
Collaborative efforts to generate important insights while keeping collaborators engaged and committed to their partnerships.
Creating a self-sustaining network of industry-academia and cross-functional industrial collaborations.
Workforce development as a key component of a robust discipline of innovative therapeutic development.
Collaborative environment for innovation & learning to transform processes, technologies, and policy elements of innovation.
Various specific suggestions for building a collaborative ecosystem of the panel members to translate discoveries into effective therapeutics along with suggestions of the participants received during the feedback session were noted and the same would be utilized for developing a robust networked research ecosystem.
The webinar has got good response with more than 1500 registrations across the G-20 countries. This S20 webinar witnessed more than 500 viewers across the virtual platforms. Webinar concluded with a note of appreciation by Prof. USN Murty, Director, NIPER-Guwahati, India to all the S20 speakers, panellists, moderators, and wide participants for their valuable contributions & active participation.