Joining forces in the fight against Ebola

By: Hans Vergauwen, Project Manager

Joining Forces In The Fight Against Ebola
Ebola Virus; Credit: CDC

Between 2014-2016, multiple stakeholders joined forces to combat the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa under the umbrella of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). IMI is a public private partnership (PPP) aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. The different stakeholders formed several partnerships in response to the IMI2-Call 2 and the IMI2-Call 8. This resulted in five projects receiving funding from the IMI2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement EBOVAC1 (grant nr. 115854), EBOVAC2 (grant nr. 115861), EBOVAC3 (grant nr. 800176), EBOMAN (grant nr. 115850) and EBODAC (grant nr. 115847). This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). The Ebola vaccine projects are a series of clinical trials and associated projects which aim to assess a novel 2-dose preventive vaccination regimen against EVD.

Activities related to the Ebola projects created a sense of urgency as a rapid response was required considering the epidemic threat by the multiple Ebola outbreaks. Project managers need to efficiently and effectively coordinate the projects’ activities together with the different stakeholders. Keeping a clear overview at all times provides stability to an environment that is prone to change. It is not a secret that cross-communication in stakeholder management in a PPP initiative can be challenging. Open communication and streamlining the way of working between the public and private partners is crucial in the project execution phase. However challenging things may seem, together we are strong. The public private partnership model of IMI has proven to be a formula for progress in Ebola vaccine development. The clinical data from the EBOVAC projects helped paved the way for Johnson & Johnson’s announcement on 7th of November 2019 that European Marketing Authorisation Applications have been submitted for Janssen’s investigational Ebola vaccine regimen [1].

Combining the expertise and capabilities of global research institutions, non-government organizations and the pharmaceutical industry has been critical to help address the Ebola public health challenge, including the development of vaccines. Stakeholder management is an important and common practice in any project. It allows managers to better manage process, performance and risk. Various problems related to stakeholder management have been encountered on PPP initiatives around the world that have eventually led to project failure. Stakeholder opposition has been reported as the main reason for failure in several instances. As such, capturing and addressing of stakeholder inputs is crucial to the success of PPP projects [2]. A project manager who understands the different needs and expectations of a variety of stakeholders, can facilitate the dialogue in a multidisciplinary team existing of both public and private partners. Leveraging lessons learned for better epidemic preparedness is now more relevant than ever (i.e. coronavirus outbreak). This shows that the importance of strategic collaboration between industry and public partners is growing as innovation is becoming more complex. Finally, the lessons learned from the Ebola projects will have a positive impact on global strategies to develop vaccines quickly in situations of public health emergencies, thereby helping to improve the world’s preparedness for emerging infectious diseases.

At Modis Life Sciences we help with finding the right partners and search for the communities and networks that are needed to fast track innovation. Together with our clients, we investigate suitable collaboration models and drive team coordination and project management efforts. We are experienced in guiding our partners through the process of the PPP model of IMI to create value through multi stakeholder alignment and collaboration. Our expert knowledge originates from direct interaction with the multiple stakeholders and enables us to build an impactful and strong relationship between stakeholders and biotech/pharma companies. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to know more about how Modis Life Sciences is contributing to the fight against Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa in a public private partnership collaboration.

– Hans Vergauwen, Project Manager





Disclosure: Hans Vergauwen is a contract and grant project manager on the EBOVAC1, EBOVAC2 and EBOVAC3 projects, contracted by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV

[1] Janssen website

[2] El-Gohary, Nora & Osman, Hesham & El-Diraby, Tamer. (2006). Stakeholder management for public private partnerships. International Journal of Project Management – INT J PROJ MANAG. 24. 595-604. 10.1016/j.ijproman.2006.07.009.