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The Influenza Centre is a leading international centre in preclinical and clinical development of influenza and COVID vaccines as well as infection cohort studies. The Centre is funded by the University of Bergen, Haukeland University Hospital, the Ministry of Health and Care Services and external grant funding.

Researchers at the Influenza Centre

The centre's work is currently supported through grants from the EU (2 Horizon 2020 and an Innovative Medicine Initiative grants) and by the Western Norway Regional Health Authority. The Centre coordinates an international consortium funded by the Research Council of Norway (NFR).

History

In 1982, the WHO established an Influenza Centre for Western Norway with Professor Lars Haaheim as director, before this work was centralized at the National Institute of Public Health in 2002. Since then, the Ministry of Health and Care Services has provided permanent funding for the Influenza Centre's work at the University of Bergen and Haukeland University Hospital. In September 2008, Professor Rebecca Cox took over the leadership of the centre.

Activities

The Influenza Centre specializes in detailed evaluation of human immune responses in cohort studies, and in human vaccine studies and clinical trials. The centre's vision is to reduce the global burden of influenza and other respiratory viruses by being an international leader in the development of new and better vaccines and understanding complications and the immune response after infection.

The vision will be achieved through our main activities:

  • Evaluation of new vaccine formulations, including new adjuvants (vaccine enhancers);
  • Preclinical research and development of promising vaccine candidates;
  • Human clinical trials of new phase I to IV influenza vaccines with good clinical practice (GCP);
  • Cohort studies of infected cases to understand the household attack rates, long term complications and immune responses after infection and vaccination.

The knowledge generated through these activities will result in the development of a knowledge platform for the immune response and immunological correlates for protection that will give us an improved understanding of immunological defense mechanisms. The Influenza Centre will contribute to increased collaboration across disciplines in order to achieve good translational vaccine and virological research and importantly actively contribute to the education of master's and doctoral students.

Professor Rebecca Cox, Head of the Influenza Centre
Professor Rebecca Cox, Head of the Influenza Centre

At the Influenza Centre, we have concentrated on understanding detailed characteristics of the immune response after vaccination and infection. We have worked on a number of pandemic (influenza and COVID) and seasonal influenza vaccines conducting studies in adults (including pregnant women, the elderly) and children. We are also evaluating the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine in pregnant women and young children in a phase IV clinical trial Bangladesh. We are also currently developing new 3D model organoid systems and improving the human challenge model to accelerate evaluation and development of next generation influenza vaccines. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have allocated considerable resources to understand the pandemic in Western Norway.

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