20 years of ADVAC

Facilitating critical decision-making for leaders in the field of vaccines

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Organized by the Mérieux Foundation and the University of Geneva, ADVAC is a two-week training program for decision-makers, including academia, industry, governmental and non-governmental agencies, in all fields related to vaccines and vaccination.

The course aims to facilitate critical decision-making in vaccinology by providing participants with a comprehensive overview of the field, from immunology to vaccine development and clinical trials and the social, economic, political and ethical issues of vaccination.

The course is taught by over 60 top-level international lecturers and working group supervisors, all experts in vaccinology.

ADVAC participants

The 70+ participants who attend ADVAC undergo a highly competitive selection process, based on their educational background, involvement in vaccinology, decision-making responsibility in vaccinology, as well as the expected impact of the course at personal, institutional and national levels. To ensure a diversity of participants, there is a maximum of one participant per institution and a balance between sectors.

A network of over 1,000 alumni

The interactive nature of the course and the fact that participants study and live together for two weeks forge lasting bonds. A strong community of alumni continue to meet several times a year during major global vaccine meetings such as SAGE, IDSA, and ESPID.

Organization

The course is directed by Dr. Philippe Duclos, former Executive Secretary for the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization at WHO.

Prof. Claire-Anne Siegrist, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Geneva, Director of the Center for Vaccinology at the Medical Faculty and University Hospitals of Geneva, and head of the WHO collaborating Center for Vaccine Immunology, is the course’s Executive Director.

ADVAC’s Senior Scientific Advisors are Dr. Stanley Plotkin, Consultant, Emeritus Professor of the University of Pennsylvania, and Adjunct Professor of Johns Hopkins University, and Prof. Paul-Henri Lambert, from the Centre of Vaccinology at the University of Geneva, former ADVAC director, and Chief of Vaccine Research and Development at the WHO Global Programme for Vaccines and Immunization.

Dr. Hanna Nohynek, Vaccine Safety Officer at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, organizes the course’s working groups and Dr. Edwin Asturias, Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health, ensures the onsite course coordination and oversees the course evaluation.

At the Mérieux Foundation, Bénédicte Pansier, Director of Knowledge-Sharing and Director of Les Pensières Center for Global Health, Sandra Angèle, International Courses Project Manager.

Each year, the program is developed by an 18-member scientific committee that includes scientists and policy-makers from the world’s leading institutions.

ADVAC’s partners

In addition to the contributions from the University of Geneva and the Mérieux Foundation, ADVAC would not be possible without the long-standing support of the following co-sponsors:

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
  • European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID)
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), National Institutes of Health (NIAID, NIH)
  • Fogarty International Center
  • World Health Organization

Unrestricted education grants are provided by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur, the Serum Institute of India, and Takeda.

Course origins

Dr. Stanley Plotkin

Co-founder of ADVAC: Dr. Stanley Plotkin, Consultant, Emeritus Professor of the University of Pennsylvania, and Adjunct Professor of Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Stanley Plotkin, first approached Dr. Charles Mérieux, founder of the Mérieux Foundation, with the idea for a course for scientists and decision-makers involved in vaccine development or in policy decisions related to vaccines. Acutely aware of the profound societal impact and implications of vaccination, Dr. Mérieux decided to help develop the course. He gave it a home at Les Pensières, where the concept of vaccinology had been created, during a discussion between Charles Mérieux and Jonas Salk, inventor of the first polio vaccine.

Representatives from WHO, the University of Geneva, Mérieux Foundation, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, AMP, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first met in November 1998 to discuss the creation of the course, which was held for the first time in 2000.

In addition to Dr. Plotkin, many of ADVAC’s Scientific Committee members were involved from the start: Prof. Claire-Anne Siegrist, Prof. Paul-Henri Lambert, and Prof. Neal Halsey, Director and Professor, Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.

They worked with Dr. Charles Mérieux and Dr. Betty Dodet, the Mérieux Foundation’s Scientific Director at the time, to develop the course’s original curriculum.

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