At the request of its 194 Member States following the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint, a global strategy and preparedness plan that allows the rapid activation of research and development activities during epidemics. A key component of the R&D Blueprint is the creation of an R&D roadmap for each priority pathogen, to accelerate availability of effective diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics to avert large scale epidemics. Each roadmap provides a framework that identifies the vision, strategic goals, and priority areas for accelerated R&D needed for disease prevention and control.
Beginning in 2016, CIDRAP has been engaged in the development of R&D roadmaps for four of the priority pathogens:
- Ebola, Marburg, Nipah, and Lassa viruses: From 2016 – 2018, CIDRAP worked with the WHO and Wellcome Trust, and with funding from Wellcome Trust, developed R&D roadmaps for Ebola/Marburg, Nipah, and Lassa viruses.
- Zika virus: From 2019 – 2021, CIDRAP worked with the WHO and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and, with funding from the WHO, developed an R&D roadmap for Zika virus.
- Nipah, Lassa, and Zika viruses: In 2022, CIDRAP, the WHO, and Wellcome Trust, and with funding from Wellcome Trust and involvement of UTMB for Zika, reconvened the roadmap development projects to update and finalize the Nipah, Lassa, and Zika virus R&D roadmaps. These R&D roadmaps will be finalized in 2023-2024.
Key steps for the development of each roadmap include the following:
- Conduct extensive literature and scientific reviews regarding the current status of medical countermeasures R&D 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.
WHO Roadmap Development Staff