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An international network of researchers, led by NDM’s Professor Helen McShane and Professor Samantha Sampson from Stellenbosch University, has recently been awarded a new UK Medical Research Council (MRC) grant to continue the network activities until 2027.

The VALIDATE Network is an international network of researchers developing vaccines against globally significant diseases caused by complex intracellular pathogens. The £2.4 million grant, via MRC's International Science Partnership Fund and Partnership Grant funding streams, will enable VALIDATE to continue to provide grants, events and other opportunities to the members from 2024-2027.

Established in 2017, VALIDATE is an international network of researchers currently connecting over 660 members from 300 institutes across 75 countries (48 LMIC), all working together to accelerate vaccine development for three groups of complex neglected intracellular pathogens that cause significant mortality and morbidity throughout the world, particularly in LMICs: Mycobacteria (causing tuberculosis, leprosy and other diseases), Leishmania (causing leishmaniasis) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (causing melioidosis).

A second, important aim of the VALIDATE Network is to facilitate career progression for its members, particularly Early Career Researchers, and recognising career progression inequity researchers from LMICs and researchers identifying as female. The VALIDATE Network is led by Professor Helen McShane Professor of Vaccinology at NDM and Director of VALIDATE, and Professor Samantha Sampson, Professor of Mycobacteriology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa and the co-director of VALIDATE, with Samantha Vermaak, Executive Manager & Co-Investigator. Membership is free and open to all. 53.6% of their members are based in LMICs.

Various activities at VALIDATE Network have so far facilitated over 100 new collaborations, produced 72 peer-reviewed publications, and attracted £16m in follow-on funding for VALIDATE and its members. They have funded four Fellowships, 30 pump-priming grants, 51 training grants, 55 travel grants, and connected 24 mentor-mentee relationships. They set up an Early Career Researcher Career Development Network (ECDN) for female post-doctoral VALIDATE members to support their career development. They have run 58 events (in-person and virtual, including Annual Meetings, workshops, seminars, Schools talks, and public talks), with >2,300 attendees from 71 countries (46 LMIC). The membership has grown >20-fold from 32 inaugural members.

The VALIDATE website showcases some of their successes to date (https://www.validate-network.org/case-studies).

Find out more about VALIDATE here.

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