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Vaccine development gains speed with the new European Plotkin Institute for Vaccinology

8 December 2023
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Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) inaugurated in September the European Plotkin Institute for Vaccinology, a 3,600 m2 state-of-the-art laboratory where researchers from different disciplines work together towards the same goal: to better understand, treat and prevent infectious diseases.
Photos: ULB

The European Plotkin Institute for Vaccinology (EPIV) is a joint initiative of ULB and the University of Antwerp, supported by the Belgian federal government.

At ULB, the European Plotkin Institute for Vaccinology brings together research teams in immunology and microbiology to combat infectious diseases in Belgium and around the world, and to participate in international efforts to prepare for future pandemics. It incorporates clinical research capabilities to translate the results of fundamental research into benefits for patients.

Both human and material resources 

The Institute brings together a group of 5 research teams - and over 50 researchers already - working in the fields of immunology, bacteriology, vaccinology, virology and clinical microbiology, permanently connected to international networks to meet the challenges of current and future infectious diseases:

In an era that demands innovation and research in healthcare, the opening of the Institute of Vaccinology next to the Brussels University Hospital represents an important combination of skills. It reinforces both our triple academic mission - combining complex care, teaching and research - and our resolute commitment to excellence and innovation. Together, we are shaping a vital ecosystem conducive to distinction, generating a strong synergy for a healthier and more resilient future in the service of our patients, says Jean-Michel Hougardy, General Medical Director of Brussels University Hospital.

The researchers have at hand a large biobank capacity for pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites) and human samples (blood, serum, saliva, etc.). They are studied in state-of-the-art laboratories, specially conceived for a safe handling. Also, a high-throughout testing capacity is always available and active, to help in the event of a new pandemic.

Once hopes, now objectives 

The objectives of the EPIV are:

  • understand the precise interactions between humans and pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites);
  • identify new approaches to protecting patients from infections (vaccines, bacteriophages, new drugs);
  • studying in depth the immunity induced by vaccination;
  • identifying the specific needs of vulnerable populations to protect them more effectively against infections;
  • implement tools to tackle future pandemics.

Considered to be the "godfather of vaccines", Stanley Plotkin - who's name was chosen for the Institute - contributed to the disappearance of rubella in the United States. He also played a major role in the development of numerous vaccines, notably against rabies, rotavirus, polio, chickenpox and cytomegalovirus.

Find out more details about EPIV by reading the original, French story