Manica Balasegaram: 2019 a year in review

12 Dec 2019

Dear Colleagues,

It is hard to believe that we are reaching the end of another year.

The last 12 months saw us unveil our new strategy to deliver five new treatments that address urgent drug-resistant infections by 2025. With a focus on late-stage clinical development and sustainable access, our strategy sets out how we plan to develop new treatments for bacterial infections, including a new programme for addressing hospital infections in adults.

Our strategy follows our successful three-year incubation hosted by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). Built on the shared missions of our founding partners DNDi and the World Health Organization, we are truly grateful for their leadership and support during our early years and look forward to continuing our collaboration.

As a newly independent legal entity, it is important GARDP continues to build a robust governance structure with leading figures in global health. With this in mind, I’m delighted to welcome Prof Veronika von Messling and Dr Mercedes Tatay to our Board of Directors and Dr Prabhavathi Fernandes as the new Chair of our Scientific Advisory Committee.

This year we had some exciting news on the research and development front. Not only did we complete our first phase I clinical trial to evaluate the safety of a drug to treat newborns with sepsis, we initiated our first phase III clinical trial, in partnership with Entasis Therapeutics, for a drug to treat gonorrhoea. Our quest for a new treatment is timely as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports doubling of rates of gonorrhoea in the US from 250,000 to 550,000 since 2013.

The global reach of REVIVE – our interactive online space to improve, accelerate and streamline antimicrobial drug discovery and research – has continued to expand. We are delighted that our webinars are reaching individuals from over 60 countries.

Drug resistance remains high on the political agenda and we welcome the United Nation’s Ad Hoc Interagency Coordination Group report that reflects a renewed commitment for collaborative action, including investing in ambitious research and development to combat antimicrobial resistance. The momentum needs to be maintained and strengthened in 2020 as critical challenges remain to ensure sustainable access to existing and new treatments.

However, one thing is clear. No single organization can address these challenges alone. Partnerships based on public health priorities are a key part of the solution and we are excited about our new collaborations with EvotecCalibr, HZI/HIPS and University of Queensland. It is incredible to think that we have now formed over 50 partnerships in 20 countries that span governments, the biomedical and pharmaceutical industry, research institutions, not-for-profits, and civil society since our inception in 2016.

None of this would be possible without the support of our donors and partners, whom I sincerely thank. By supporting our work, you are not only showing strong leadership but also confidence in our ability to address the global threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Thank you once again for your support. We look forward to continued collaborations throughout 2020.

Best wishes,
Manica Balasegaram
GARDP Executive Director