At the request of its 194 Member States, following the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed A Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics. A key component of the blueprint is the creation of R&D roadmaps for priority pathogens of concern. Each roadmap will provide a framework that identifies the vision, strategic goals, and priority areas for accelerated R&D needed for disease prevention and control. The goal of each roadmap is to promote development and evaluation of medical countermeasures (diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines) for the pathogen.
In 2016 and 2017, CIDRAP worked closely with the WHO and Wellcome Trust and, with funding support from Wellcome Trust, developed R&D roadmaps for Ebola/Marburg, Nipah, and Lassa viruses. Since 2019, CIDRAP has been working closely with the WHO and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) to develop an R&D roadmap for Zika virus. Work for the Zika roadmap is being funded by the WHO.
Key steps for the development of each roadmap include the following:
- Conduct background research regarding the current status of medical countermeasure development for the pathogen.
- Conduct a gap analysis to determine where additional research and development are needed.
- Develop a roadmap draft, with input and support from a core group of selected subject matter experts (SMEs).
- Convene a consultation with a larger group of diverse international SMEs, including representation from affected countries, to obtain input on the draft document.
- Revise the roadmap (again with support from a small group of key SMEs) and then complete a vetting and review process involving the primary partners and stakeholders.
- Publish the roadmap jointly with key partners.