The Janssen-Cilag International N.V COVID-19 vaccine has received authorization for emergency use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on March 11. Developed with fundamental support from the Molecular Virology group of the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), it is the fourth vaccine to be administered in the European Union. The Netherlands has ordered more than 11 million vaccine doses.
Janssen first approached the LUMC Molecular Virology group in February of 2020. “A collaboration to support the development of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was proposed because they knew we had been studying coronaviruses for over 30 years”, says Professor Eric Snijder of the LUMC department of Medical Microbiology. Together, Snijder and Dr Marjolein Kikkert were responsible for leading the project. Snijder emphasizes that they were able to rapidly assist with the first phase of vaccine development and testing due to LUMC’s well-established research infrastructure: “not only did we have the experience, but we also had trained staff available and a state-of-the-art Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory”.
Long have we awaited the moment that we could welcome international students at the LUMC again. Due to COVID, all student mobility was cancelled for over 1,5 years. And despite still having regulations in place, especially during the first semester of the academic year 2021-2022, it was refreshing to cautiously welcome international students again. We’re so pleased to see that the students who came to Leiden had a fun, meaningful and above all, educational experience. In a questionnaire, they’ve given us an insight into how they experienced student mobility during these strange times.
Twice a year, the Research Mobility Fellowships of the European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases (EJP RD) from the European Reference Networks (ERN) get awarded to prominent researchers or MDs to develop new skills and expertise in a European institution specialized in research on rare diseases.
On May 30th, international experts and politicians gathered in Leiden to discuss global health issues during the Global Impact in Health Symposium. Lively discussions were held on matters concerning equal worldwide access to vaccines and diversity within clinical research. New scientific insights were also shared, including on vaccine response differences between African and European populations. Missed the event? Check out the after movie and get in touch!