On 5 and 6 June 2023, the ECRAID-Base consortium came together in Zagreb for its second General Assembly. Representatives from all 19 member organisations met to share their progress, successes, and challenges in the spirit of true international collaboration.
The General Assembly began with remarks by Ecraid CEO Marc Bonten who focused on one of the project’s key parts – the five Perpetual Observational Studies (POS). He ran through the most important hurdles this innovative design aims to solve, noting that substantial progress has been made in three of four areas: site-selection, contracting, and constant patient recruitment. Marc also acknowledged that urgent work is needed to tackle the fourth challenge, namely the pre-approval of protocol adaptations necessary to rapidly respond to emerging epidemics.
Another major goal of the project is to deliver the initial set of activities for Ecraid. Marc updated the consortium on the foundation’s intensive development during the past year, including building a strong team and organisational culture. Over the five-year duration of ECRAID-Base, Ecraid will evolve into a self-sustainable not-for-profit organisation coordinating a pan-European network for clinical research in infectious diseases.
Left: Marc Bonten addresses the General Assembly.
Below: The participants pose for a group photo.
A highlight of the General Assembly was the keynote lecture delivered by Ecraid’s Coordinating Committee member and Head of the Erasmus Medical Centre’s Department of Viroscience, Marion Koopmans. The Rotterdam-based professor in virology gave an insightful presentation on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the participants in the event were also representatives of the European Commission – the primary funder of the ECRAID-Base project. Patricia Urban Lopez and Ulla Närhi talked about the Commission’s commitment to supporting pandemic preparedness research and the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
All teams involved in the project took the stage to present their progress, milestones and next steps. That included the POS, the landmark adaptive platform trial REMAP-CAP whose European arm is supported by the project, and supporting services such as Data, Trainings, and Communications.
Zagreb was a breathtaking backdrop for this meeting. Arjana Tambić Andrašević, Head of the Department of Medical Microbiology at the local University Hospital for Infectious Diseases, introduced the participants to the city's rich history. At the end of the first day, they were treated to a unique dining experience at the Croatian State Archives where knowledgeable employees told them about the history of the building and showed them centuries-old documents providing a rare glimpse into the state’s response to a Cholera pandemic.