Infectious diseases have been a continuous threat to humans and animals throughout history. This has been highlighted by recent events, illuminating inequalities and weaknesses in the way that infectious disease research is currently conducted and providing compelling arguments for a revised approach.
While universities can, and do, play a key role in influencing policy in knowledge-based societies the approach is often fragmented and international relationships often formed on an ad hoc basis.
The Cambridge international Infection Initiative (Ci3) has been set up with the aim of creating and developing equitable relationships between the University of Cambridge and international partners working on major infectious disease priorities in LMICs. Utilising the expertise and infrastructure within the University of Cambridge to work with overseas partners to support their research priorities aiming to, where possible, ensure the work is carried out in-country, while providing training on specific aspects and specialised techniques elsewhere as required. In this way we hope to shift the focus of efforts more locally to locations where the problems arise.
Currently building on current relationships, projects, and capacity for which there is an existing infrastructure (e.g., Cambridge Africa and strategic partnerships in Asia, CMC Vellore, PGIMER Chandigarh, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Ho Chi Minh City, Aga Khan University Karachi, Sunway University Malaysia), key themes and priorities have been identified. These include bilateral education and training; capacity strengthening, career development and engagement; innovation, translation, discovery and development as well as access to technology, tools and data. Initial focus is in four main areas: emerging pathogens and zoonotic disease tracking and surveillance; drug resistant infections; development of low-cost transferable diagnostics and medicines and the impact of climate change, demographics and the environment.
Ci3 is a new initiative and we would welcome contact, ideas and new partners whose aim is to reach the vision of creating a multidisciplinary, sustainable, equitable approach for conducting applied infectious disease research that can be translated into real impact.