Emergency research call launched to help combat Ebola outbreak

A rapid-response call for research to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is being launched today, Wellcome Trust Director Dr Jeremy Farrar and UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening have announced.

Expert teams from around the world are being invited to submit research proposals to better inform the management of Ebola outbreaks so that lives can be saved. This includes research which could produce evidence to help tackle the current outbreak.

Proposals will be reviewed immediately with a view to enabling research to start as soon as possible.

Funding is being made available from a £6.5 million research initiative jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Wellcome Trust, and managed by Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA).

Justine Greening said: “We are launching an emergency call for research to strengthen what we know about Ebola and how it spreads. This will help us better equip those working on the ground so they can tackle the outbreak as effectively as possible and prevent more people contracting this terrible disease.

“This work, supported by the UK, should also draw lessons for the global community on how to deal with future outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases.”

Dr Jeremy Farrar said: “The gravity of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa demands an urgent response, and we believe rapid research into humanitarian interventions and therapeutics can have an impact on treatment and containment during the present outbreak. What we learn could also change the way we approach future outbreaks, providing us with tested tools and techniques that were not available to public health authorities this time.”

Jess Camburn, ELRHA’s Director, said: “The communities that are facing this terrible outbreak have the right to expect the best possible response from the international community. Research might not seem like an urgent action, but the courageous health professionals that are working to save lives and control this outbreak are in great need of better evidence. ELRHA is proud to be working with DFID and the Wellcome Trust to ensure that experienced research teams can respond to this need now.”

Funding from the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) initiative will be awarded to researchers who can provide strong evidence and analysis on the disease in areas including:

  • anthropology
  • clinical management
  • diagnosis
  • disease control and prevention
  • ethics
  • health systems
  • social mobilisation surveillance treatment.

The initial call for proposals closes on Monday 8 September 2014 and applications will be welcome online through the ELRHA website. Potential applicants unable to meet this deadline should contact the ELRHA office.