ECRAID-Base: An exemplary collaboration in European clinical research
Collaboration is integral to Ecraid and its largest project to date, ECRAID-Base. One of 76 projects funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program to address a wide range of crucial health challenges, ECRAID-Base is building a pan-European sustainable network for harmonized large-scale clinical research studies for infectious diseases.
The project is a consortium of 19 partner organisations based in nine countries: Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Complex and multi-faceted, it is split into 13 ‘work packages’ (WP), each one coordinated by a dedicated team.
Here, we introduce the teams and the specific objectives they are pursuing.
WP 1: Project Management and Network Coordination
The first work package encompasses the central organisation, management and coordination of the project. The team monitors compliance with the grant agreement and the consortium agreement, and ensures the good governance, engagement, reach and sustainability of the clinical research network.
Previously working under the umbrella of the University Medical Center Utrecht (the Netherlands), the team is now officially employed by the Ecraid foundation. It is led by Prof. Marc Bonten, CEO of Ecraid, and one of the leading experts in infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance in Europe. Marc is also scientific Director of the research theme "Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance" of the Netherlands Centre for One Health, and chairman of the strategic research program Infection and Immunity at UMC Utrecht.
WP 2: POS-VAP
The primary objective of this study is to set up an infrastructure capable of rapidly implementing clinical trials related to the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in ICUs.
POS-VAP's team is led by Dr. Bruno François at the Limoges Clinical Investigation Center (France). Bruno is a specialist in intensive care medicine and anaesthesiology, and heads the Center.
WP 3: POS-cUTI
POS-cUTI aims to create a similar clinical research infrastructure for studies related to the treatment of complicated Urinary Tract Infections (cUTI) – a leading cause of hospital admission and antibiotic use.
The study team is based at the Andalusian Public Foundation for Health Research Management in Seville (Spain), and is headed by Prof. Jesús Rodriguez Baño. Jesús is a professor of medicine at the University of Seville, and Head of the Infectious Diseases division at Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena in Seville.
WP 4: POS-ARI-ER
This study covers pathogens with proven epidemic potential such as influenza viruses and coronaviruses, e.g., COVID-19. POS-ARI-ER is setting up an infrastructure capable of rapidly implementing clinical studies related to the diagnosis and treatment of acute respiratory infections (ARI). It also aims to compare the effectiveness of different diagnostic and therapeutic practices used routinely in emergency rooms.
The study is in the hands of Dr. Jake Dunning at the University of Oxford (UK). Jake is an infectious diseases consultant and researcher, and Director of NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases (contact) Network.
WP 5: POS-Disease X
High-density urban areas are increasingly becoming the hubs for the explosive spread of infectious disease outbreaks. This study focuses on preparing Europe for a ‘Disease X‘ scenario – an unexplained febrile illness with unusual epidemiology and/or clinical presentation and of likely virus etiology.
POS-Disease X is led by virologist Prof. Marion Koopmans who is Head of the Department of Viroscience at the Erasmus University Medical Center (the Netherlands).
WP 6: POS-ARI-PC
ARI are the most common reason for consultations in community care. The POS-ARI-PC study aims to provide critically important benchmark descriptive data on the presentation and management of ARI, and a research-ready infrastructure for studies related to the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of ARI in the community care setting.
Helming the study is Prof. Chris Butler at the University of Oxford's Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit, where he is Clinical Director. Chris is also Deputy Clinical Director of the NIHR Community Healthcare MedTech and In-vitro Diagnostics Co-operative.
WP 7: REMAP-CAP
The Randomized, Embedded, Multifactorial Adaptive Platform trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) was conceived after the 2009 swine flu outbreak. This ground-breaking global trial is embedded in clinical care, and allows multiple therapies to be evaluated simultaneously, resulting in rapid accumulation of knowledge during outbreaks and pandemics.
ECRAID-Base is the home of the trial’s European arm which is led by intensivist Dr. Lennie Derde from within the University Medical Center Utrecht. Lennie is also Chair of REMAP-CAP's International Steering Committee.
WP 8: Laboratory
LAB-Net provides state-of-the-art laboratory research services that offer extensive support to all clinical studies in Ecraid’s ‘warm-base’ clinical research network.
The team is based at the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and is led by Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar.
WP 9: Data
Data is a crucial part of modern clinical research. WP 9 handles supporting activities involving four interrelated sets of work streams: data management, data sharing and harmonization, epidemiological research, and statistical research.
The team operates under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Jaenisch at the Heidelberg University Hospital (Germany).
WP 10: Preparedness
The POS-Disease X team (WP 5) works to build and maintain operational resilience for rapid response to new or re-emerging threats to the health and security of European citizens. They aim to establish preparedness across all of Ecraid’s service areas for a coordinated clinical research response to infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics.
WP 11: Training
To ensure that the Ecraid’s clinical sites are well-trained to perform clinical and/or laboratory research activities, WP 11 undertakes regular educational and training needs assessments. Depending on the outcomes, it coordinates tailored training missions and online training modules.
This task is entrusted to the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), which has decades of experience in the area. Project lead is Switzerland-based Majella Ding, Science Programme & Education Coordinator at ESCMID.
WP 12: Communications
Effective internal and external communications are important for engaging Ecraid’s stakeholders, from the sites within our network, to policymakers and European citizens. The team works hard to shine a spotlight on the challenges and successes in our clinical research activities, as well as the people behind them.
In charge of WP 12 is Ecraid’s Head of Corporate Communications & Marketing, Claire-Marie Martis. The team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WP 13: Ethics requirements
The Ethics requirements team ensures that all research activities performed within the Ecraid network are in compliance with the ethics requirements under national and/or European law. It is coordinated from Ecraid’s headquarters in Utrecht.