Skip to Content Skip to Search

Why collaboration is essential to achieving new breakthroughs in vaccines

Read time: 3 mins

Related tags:

03 June 2019

Emmanuel Hanon

Ahead of the BIO Convention in Philadelphia, Emmanuel Hanon, Senior Vice President, Head of R&D at GSK Vaccines, provides his unique insights on how just one idea combined with the right type of collaboration could change the future of vaccine development.

As vaccine researchers, we’re in a very exciting time where we have the chance to discover new solutions that could dramatically improve human health worldwide. With rapid advances in cutting-edge science and technology, we’re able to engineer vaccines like never before. This unlocks potential to not only help protect against some of the most dangerous infectious diseases, but also to provide therapeutic solutions for conditions that were previously unimaginable. 

In this age of exponential increase in knowledge, I’m regularly reminded of the simple beginnings of Edward Jenner's discovery. He is often called the father of immunology. It all started with one idea; an observation and a hypothesis that inspired a scientific revolution that has improved the health of billions of people globally and is viewed as one of the greatest public health interventions of all time.

The potential of a good idea is something that resonates with me, and something that we at GSK are passionate about. This is why I am particularly excited about this year’s BIO Convention and why I am fully embracing its theme: ‘It starts with one’. This celebrates the ideas, daily efforts and incremental progress that are vital to driving scientific innovation.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to learn about the latest ideas and cutting-edge techniques. At the same time, we’re also excited about meeting with potential partners who could help us to take our research to a new level – because we know that when it comes to creating the vaccines of the future, no single organisation has all the answers.

Advancing vaccine science beyond infectious disease

At GSK, as a leading vaccines company, delivering over 2 million vaccine doses every day to people living in 158 countries worldwide, we’re committed to helping populations around the world to protect themselves from disease throughout their lives.

Last year alone, GSK invested £673 million in core vaccines R&D looking at how we can advance our understanding and ability to create new or improved vaccines. Together, our 2,500 dedicated vaccine scientists, working across three global R&D centres in Belgium, Italy and the US, have built a portfolio of more than 30 vaccines helping to protect people against 21 diseases. We have a pipeline with a number of candidate vaccines across all R&D stages. 

At the heart of our success has been cutting-edge science and technology and collaborations with some of the world’s leading scientists and institutions. Currently, we have one of the broadest technology portfolios in life sciences, including adjuvant systems and self-amplifying messenger RNA (SAM) – which could potentially turn the human body into a factory producing its own vaccines.

Every day, we’re combining these scientific advances to improve our understanding, drive key innovations in vaccine development and help make radical advances that address unmet medical needs. For example, we’re currently leveraging our expertise in immunology and innovative technology platforms to develop potential new therapeutic vaccines for a broad range of diseases.

Another part of our innovation power is that we’re actively exploring the power of digitalisation in vaccine development and manufacturing, using real-time technical data to better characterise our candidate vaccines and reduce the time it takes to develop new vaccines. This approach is helping us to be more agile and better respond to some of the biggest global health challenges, from infectious diseases to tackling the urgent public health threat from growing resistance to antibiotics.

Co-creating the vaccines of the future

Meeting the challenges of developing new vaccines will take more than cutting-edge technologies – it also takes partnerships with the smartest people and institutions to create synergies and accelerate access to innovation.

This is why we’ve formed over 150 external scientific vaccine collaborations – including life science companies, academia, charities, non-governmental organisations and beyond – each with the sole aim of advancing the frontiers of disease prevention. 

Such collaborations enable our vaccine scientists to learn from other leading experts in diverse fields and stay close to emerging technologies and new science. But more importantly, they allow us to create strong mutually beneficial relationships, where we are working together transforming human health. The potential of these relationships is impressive. But they all start with one thing: a meeting to share ideas.

I look forward to having the opportunity to do this at BIO this week and hopefully discovering our next potential partners.

Marzo, scientist, R & D looking into microscope

This blog is part of our A view from the lab… series, sharing insights from scientists around our company. It was originally published on Emmanuel's LinkedIn profile.

View the series

Back to top