A word from the president

The Brighton Collaboration is about building trust in the safety of vaccines through rigorous science. As immunization programs mature globally and the investigation of vaccine safety concerns requires globally concerted analysis and response, the need for collaborative approaches, international standards and guidance, and shared infrastructure have never been greater. This is what Brighton Collaboration partners are committed to address and what the Foundation has been dedicated to support for over a decade now.

Scientific innovations for building trust in the safety of vaccines have characterized 2013 more than anything. For example, Brighton Collaboration partners focused on developing novel research standards including template safety elements for clinical trial protocols and a reference set of positive and negative vaccine-adverse event associations for performance testing of signal detection methods and functional evaluation of active and passive surveillance systems. Further, new methodological approaches to ascertain vaccine exposure and verify cases of adverse events during immunization campaigns in low and medium income countries (LMIC) were developed to enable large population based studies in these settings. Brighton Collaboration partners piloted an international collaborative feasibility study in LMIC based on a shared protocol and common web-based research infrastructure in Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique and demonstrated promising interim results.  Moreover, new strategies for monitoring public confidence in vaccines administered in LMIC were created. An approach to utilizing social media in this setting was created and methods for automated public confidence monitoring of electronic media monitoring based on text mining and computer learning algorithms are being established.

At the Foundation we also continued to build analytic capacity by widening the global network of health care databases useful for observational studies and by offering structured training. Certainly a highlight was the launch of CAFÉ, the Clinical Advisory Forum of Experts and an information exchange mechanism for Brighton Collaboration partners for real time discussion of cases with adverse events and related vaccine safety questions. This enables rapid global support for local safety questions and stimulates collaborative approaches. The Vaccine Safety Journal Club is another mechanism allowing for collaborative scientific exchange on vaccine safety hot topics, which was provided in collaboration with Elsevier at its online platform VaccineOrb.

Unwarranted and legitimate emerging vaccine safety concerns alike are best addressed with scientifically valid systems in place to define, detect, analyze and communicate accurate information on adverse events following immunization (AEFI). This is where the Brighton Collaboration comes in. The Brighton Collaboration is the world’s largest network of vaccine safety professionals and is unique in its capacity to leverage highly specific expertise and large data sources focusing on the investigation of vaccine safety concerns in developed countries as well as LMIC. I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all generous donors sharing the vision of the many scientists globally and supporting health and wellbeing of current and future populations. While the global safety requirements and challenges are increasing, inadequate funding prevents us from fully utilizing the Collaboration’s capacity to coordinate our largely voluntary work and world-renowned technical resources to rapidly address unpredicted safety concerns requiring immediate investigation to maintain public confidence in vaccines with a favorable benefit-risk profile. To this end, the Foundation will focus on fundraising campaigns building the Global Immunization and Vaccine-Safety Endowment (GIVE) in 2014.

Jan Bonhoeffer, President, Brighton Collaboration Foundation