ANRS New Year's wishes
Response and preparation
At a time when ANRS | Emerging Infectious Diseases is entering its second year of existence, these are the two words that I would say have governed its construction.
The creation, within Inserm, of a new agency for the funding, coordination, evaluation and facilitation of research, an agency borne out of the merging of ANRS and REACTing, presented itself naturally for these two structures in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The overhaul of the agency's strategy and positioning took place with the continued support of our supervisory authorities and institutional partners - first and foremost of which Inserm - such as the Ministries of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Solidarity and Health, and Europe and Foreign Affairs. We were also able to count on a loyal and solid community of researchers, NGOs and patient associations.
Our European and international projection was consolidated and extended, with the aim of federating research energies and taking better account of the geography of emergences. At the international level, we will continue to further strengthen our collaborations with the historical partner sites of the ANRS, as well as initiate new partnerships in low- and middle-income countries.
Internally, three new scientific departments were created, including a department for innovation that will enable better coordination with research. As a consequence, the agency has set itself the objective of recruiting some forty members of staff.
I would like to thank all the teams for their involvement and their adaptability against this background of transformation and reorganisation. It is thanks to their work that we have been able to restructure ourselves whilst facing a sharp increase in activity related to the pandemic and to the new challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis.
2021: between continuity and new activities
Beyond the funding, sponsorship and pharmacovigilance of Covid-19 trials in terms of treatment, vaccine research and public health, and beyond the facilitation of research with the creation of thematic working groups, major multi-institutional flagship projects were set up. Several European and French therapeutic and vaccine platform cohorts and trials were launched and ambitious consortia created for genome sequencing and surveillance, such as EMERGEN for France, and AFROSCREEN, which extends the principle to 13 African countries.
The agency also played a major role in the CAPNET interministerial mechanism for the designation of national research priorities, opening two calls for projects targeted at Covid-19. The agency continued its efforts to support research into all emergences, particularly through research on Ebola and a partnership with the Arbo-France network focusing on arboviruses.
Despite the context of the epidemic crisis, there was no decrease in the number and quality of projects supported by the agency on HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs and tuberculosis. The Vaccine Research Institute launched a vaccine trial sponsored by the agency against HIV; facilitation meetings on curing HIV and hepatitis B were held, and research findings were presented at major international conferences such as CROI, AASLD and IAS.
Preparing for tomorrow
In an equally active way, ANRS | Emerging Infectious Diseases has, since its creation, positioned itself as an agency of preparation. As we have seen, it is through the use of already functional networks and infrastructures that French and international research on Covid-19 has been able to be effective. With this in mind, the agency has developed and will steer for Inserm, starting this year, the Priority Research Programme and Equipment (PEPR) devoted to emerging infectious diseases. Very soon, we will also be integrating the PariSanté Campus, a French spearhead dedicated to digital health, with the promise of fruitful exchanges with health innovation players, just like we are continuing our effort to create new collaborations with industrial players.
ANRS | Emerging Infectious Diseases is now armed and ready to participate effectively in the response to epidemics, starting with that which, 40 years ago, had justified the creation of the ‘historic’ ANRS; and to prepare, with its teams, with its various institutional and future private partners, for future crises.
On behalf of the entire agency, I wish you a successful year 2022 and, I hope, greater freedom, thanks to the efforts of the researchers and all those who support and assist them.