A new initiative puts Danish vaccinology on the global map

A new initiative puts Danish vaccinology on the global map

Vaccination is one of the most effective tools available when it comes to combating infectious diseases. Vaccines save millions of lives every year. However, despite the focus of recent years on vaccines and significant advances in vaccine technology, there is a need for new and more effective vaccines.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Vaccines and Immunity (NCVI)

  • The Novo Nordisk Foundation is committing up to DKK 1.8 billion to NIVI, of which up to DKK 1.4 billion will be a grant to the University of Copenhagen to establish NCVI.
  • NCVI will be led by an executive director who will be announced in early 2024.
  • NIVI will be established in two phases; The first phase (2024-2027) will include recruiting staff, developing new international partnerships, and initiating major research programmes. By the second phase (2028-2031), NIVI will be fully scaled up and will have 150-200 employees based in Copenhagen.

A new initiative, the Novo Nordisk Vaccine and Immunology Initiative (NIVI), now provides better opportunities to conduct research for the benefit of society. As part of NIVI, a new research center has been established at the University of Copenhagen, the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Vaccines and Immunology (NCVI).

“We are proud that, as a faculty and a university, we are participating in the creation of new types of initiatives such as NIVI, specifically designed to promote translational research aimed at ensuring the transition from basic research to application. One of our main tasks is to put science in play for society, and NIVI enables us “In doing so, it strengthens the link between leading-edge research in vaccines and immunology and the development of commercial vaccines,” says Dean Bente M. Stahlkenecht from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. She stresses that the important work to design NIVI would not have happened without Professor Thor Thunder from The Department of Immunology and Microbiology (ISIM) and the strong collaboration between the core staff of the Faculty, the Statens Serum Institute and the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The goal of NIVI is to develop new and improved vaccine candidates especially against airborne infections. Many of these airborne diseases have the potential to cause serious and even fatal infections. Since these diseases are contagious, they can lead to the spread of epidemics and pandemics, which is what happened with Covid-19.

New technology will limit the spread of respiratory infections

Research at NCVI will focus on four areas: respiratory pathogens, airway immunity, vaccine platforms, and airway delivery, where vaccines are administered directly into the respiratory tract, for example, using a nasal spray.

The research center will be based at ISIM and will enhance the department’s expertise in immunology, microbiology and vaccine development.

“If we want to improve our ability to prevent and treat respiratory infections, we need to generate more knowledge about airway immunity. This has been made possible by the new initiative, and I am very proud to welcome an ambitious new research center to ISIM.” ISIM already includes international experts in immunology and microbiology, and we have extensive experience in collaborating with hospitals, other research institutions and industry, which will be very useful for this new initiative,” says ISIM Department Head Charlotte Minnie Bonfield.

Statens Serum Institut will be a key partner of NIVI. The Statens Serum Institute has an international reputation for its TB research and expertise in vaccine development, which will be vital to the success of the initiative.

Through basic and translational research, researchers at NIVI will strive to generate new knowledge that will help us better understand vaccines and immunity. They will harness this knowledge and develop new vaccine candidates that have the potential to provide effective long-term protection against respiratory pathogens.

A unique opportunity to develop new vaccine candidates

NCVI, which will be responsible for research and education within the initiative, will work together with the other part of NIVI – a company owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation Vaccine Accelerator (NVAC) – to ensure faster development of vaccine candidates that may lead to vaccines. More efficient. NVAC will enhance the translation of the Center’s research findings into Phase I and II clinical studies, thus bridging the gap between basic science and clinical application.

“The development of COVID-19 vaccines has demonstrated the extraordinary potential when interdisciplinary vaccine R&D is prioritised. With NIVI, Novo Nordisk and the University of Copenhagen are building on this momentum and helping to ensure that Denmark is at the forefront of transformative nations,” says Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO For the Novo Nordisk Foundation: “The university is the ideal partner for this initiative, thanks to its long history in immunology and vaccine research and advanced technology..

Any revenue generated by NVAC will be reinvested into NIVI and thus contribute to further research and knowledge about vaccines and immunity.


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