Fast-tracking clinical research in an epidemic

17th September 2015
Exeter College, Oxford

On 17th September a Workshop was hosted by the Epidemic diseases Research Group Oxford, which assembled over 50 individuals with first-hand experience of conducting trials of experimental therapies for Ebola. Participants included doctors, nurses, clinical trial specialists, and pharmacists who volunteered to run the trials on the ground in Ebola treatment centres in West Africa, and the ‘back-room’ team at Oxford, Médecins Sans Frontières and GOAL Global who worked tirelessly to set up the trials and support the field teams.

The overall aim of the Wellcome Trust funded project was to establish clinical trial in two or more Ebola treatment centres in West Africa through which the efficacy and safety of un-registered therapeutic products could be rapidly assessed. Against all odds the team succeeded in setting up two clinical trials, one in Liberia and one in Sierra Leone.

The conduct of clinical trials of experimental therapeutics in the midst of the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic has been an unprecedented exercise in rapid research under difficult conditions. The aim of the workshop was to reflect on this experience, capture the collective knowledge of this large and diverse group, and document what has been learnt and what could be improved. The findings of the Workshop will feed into a Rapid Research Response Framework that will detail key pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment actions that are needed to ensure a robust and safe clinical research response to epidemics of infectious diseases.

The Ebola research team were awarded special medals for their contribution to tackling the Ebola epidemic. Find out more here.


Deployment Schedule of Teams deployed into West Africa