January 8, 2021, thanks to generous support provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation China office, the 1st TB R&D Collaboration International Forum was successfully organized by the Innovation Alliance on Tuberculosis Diagnosis and Treatment (Beijing), the Clinical Center of Tuberculosis, China Center of Disease Prevention and Control. Due to a resurging COVID-19 pandemic in China, the academic event was organized online. Three parallel sessions addressing novel TB therapeutics, novel TB diagnostics as well as novel TB vaccines saw experts and researchers from in and out of China introducing their respective research progress in each of these three fields with Q&A afforded in between speakers.
The opening remarks was delivered by Dr. Li Liang, Deputy director of the Clinical Center of Tuberculosis as well as the Beijing Chest Hospital. Dr. Li pointed out that in time of the crisis as this one, the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched our resources thin, especially those originally allocated for TB control. But we professionals working to end TB in two-decades time should face this cruel reality and come up with innovative solutions to achieve End-TB targets by 2030. Findings of a recent modeling study suggest that major technological breakthroughs in TB therapeutics, TB diagnostics as well as prophylaxis are needed before 2025 if these targets are to be met in time. Dr. Li stressed the very purpose holding this event lays in the concept of 'novelty' as well as providing Chinese indigenous researchers a valuable platform to showcase their research progress in the fields mentioned above to a relevant global audience. 'May it be an occasion when ideas are collided, and collaboration forged' said Dr. Li.
From the very beginning, this forum has been generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation China office. TB experts from the foundation, namely Dr. Ann Ginsberg, Dr. Karen Heichman; from the Gates Medical Research Institute (GMRI), Dr. Khisi Mdluli and Dr. Alexander Schmidt introduced their respective research progress in these three areas vividly to the online audience. Other foreign TB experts presenting at the forum were Dr. Peter Small from the Global Health Lab and Dr. Shuo Chen of the GHDDI. Apart from our foreign speakers, Chinese indigenous TB researchers representing various research teams and initiatives made up the balk of this forum, whom updated their research progress and exchanged thoughts with other speakers during Q&A sessions. The virtual forum has been an instant success with nearly 200 online audience participating across the globe and joined the discussion with all our speakers.
The success of the 1st TB R&D Collaboration International Forum provided a valuable platform for TB researchers from in and out of China to exchange ideas and forge partnerships. Through this event, the world gains a better understanding of China's research efforts to curb TB epidemics and vice versa. It is hoped that under the impetus of technological innovation, as well as international collaboration, a world 'free of TB' can be achieved as the End TB targets perceived.
Reporter: Zi Chen, IATB