The need was felt among the researchers of both Vaxinfectio and CenStat to set up a more comprehensive research and education plan of action in the field of evidence based vaccinology, as part of the overall research plan of the Methusalem consortium. It was opted to establish a scientific chair, in order to make it possible to attract funding from various sources, including from private sector.
The promotor of the Chair is Prof. Dr. Philippe Beutels, head of the Centre for Health Economics Research and Modelling Infectious Diseases (CHERMID); Prof. Dr. Pierre Van Damme, head of the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination (CEV) and President of Vaxinfectio, acts as co-promotor of the Chair.
The Scientific Chair in Evidence Based Vaccinology (EBV) was officially established by decision of the UA Board of Directors (Bestuurscollege) on 9 december 2008. Funding for the EBV Chair has meanwhile been secured from PFIZER (previously Wyeth) for three years (60.000 EUR annually).
Holder of the EBV Chair
As of 1st February 2009, Niel Hens has been selected as holder of the Chair. He has been appointed as 50% Guest Professor, and combines this assignment with presently a position as assistant professor at the University of Hasselt. He holds a PhD in science (mathematics) and he has an excellent track record in terms of research and education. His doctoral research has been on the crossroads between the disciplines of medicine, mathematics and statistics. His curriculum lists several international awards, refereeing for international peer reviewed scientific journals, supervising PhD students, publications as first author, presentations at international conferences, workshops and symposia, as well as involvement in large research projects. His appointment serves as a continuation of the intensive relationship between UH and UA.
Scientific objectives of the EBV Chair
The EBV Chair will support research into improved estimation methods to establish the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of vaccination programmes, including pneumococcal conjugate vaccine programmes, as well as medical education in evidence based vaccinology.
The scientific aim of this Chair is to raise the level of scientific research in the area of evidence based vaccinology, in order to match the growing scientific interests from academics and industry, and in order to achieve a high level of independent research in this area.
Activities to be developed by the EBV Chair:
The further development and refinement of scientific research in evidence based vaccinology, comprising estimating the efficacy, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of vaccination programmes by infectious disease modelling.
The establishment of various external scientific activities in the area of evidence based vaccinology (symposia, workshops, and conferences), in order to translate the results to the national and international public health community.
The improvement of course modules on the subject area used in tertiary education.
Supervision of MSc and PhD dissertations in the field of evidence based vaccinology.