Els Torreele is a Policy Associate at the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP).
In 2000, Els Torreele joined the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access to Essential Medicines Campaign in its pioneering years as chair of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Working Group, a multidisciplinary think tank to advance needs-driven R&D for diseases that primarily affect developing countries. A key outcome was the creation in 2003 of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (www.DNDi.org), a nonprofit drug development organization which she joined as a founding team member. At DNDi, she led several R&D projects from discovery through clinical trials, which included uncovering and driving the development of fexinidazole, which is now available to patients as the first all-oral treatment for Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).
In 2009, she joined the Open Society Foundations in New York to lead their Access to Medicines and Innovation work, advancing health and human rights in the area of medicines with a focus on governance, transparency and accountability, and supporting civil society voices and thought leadership in policy making that shapes access to medicines and innovation.
She returned to MSF in March 2017 as the Executive Director of the Access Campaign, leading for three years a global analysis and advocacy team working to ensure that appropriate medicines, vaccines and diagnostics are developed, available, affordable and adapted to people’s needs.
She is a Science Honorary Fellow at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) since 2016, and serves on the Board of the AGORA Open Science Trust (www.agoraopensciencetrust.org/, to accelerate the discovery and development of affordable new medicines through open science), since January 2019. She’s also a member of the Reference Advisory Group of the Health Justice Initiative (www.healthjusticeinitiative.org.za/), a new public health and law initiative in South Africa addressing the intersection between racial and gender inequality and COVID-19, with a special focus on access to life saving diagnostics, treatment and vaccines (since July 2020). She also served as a Board member for DNDi from 2011-2016. Over the years, she’s been guest lecturer in different post-graduate courses at the Brussels University, the Antwerp University, the Antwerp Tropical Medicine Institute, the Swiss Tropical Medicine Institute, and Columbia University.
- Journal articles
- Olliaro P, Torreele E. Global challenges in preparedness and response to epidemic infectious diseases. Molecular Therapy 2022, vol 30(5): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymthe.2022.02.022
- Swaminathan S, Pécoul P, Abdullah H, Christou C, Gray G, IJsselmuiden C, Kieny MP, Mazzucato M, von Messling V, Ogutu B, Reeder R, Røttingen J-A, Swarup R, Tanner M, Trindade Lima N, Childs M, Harris A, Torreele E, Moon S. Reboot biomedical R&D in the global public interest. Nature 2022; Vol 602, 10Feb, 209-212. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00324-y
- Krikorian G, Torreele E: We Cannot Win the Access to Medicines Struggle Using the Same Thinking That Causes the Chronic Access Crisis. HHRJ2021, June, Vol 23/1, pp. 119-127 https://www.hhrjournal.org/2021/06/perspective-we-cannot-win-the-access-to-medicines-struggle-using-the-same-thinking-that-causes-the-chronic-access-crisis/
- Torreele E, Amon J. Virtual roundtable: Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Access. HHRJ 2021, June, Vol 23/1, pp. 273-288. https://www.hhrjournal.org/2021/05/a-virtual-roundtable-on-equitable-covid-19-vaccine-access/
- Olliaro P, Torreele E, Vaillant M: COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness-the elephant (not) in the room. Lancet Microbe. 2021 2021; 2(7): E279-280. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(21)00069-0/fulltext
- Olliaro P, Torreele E: Managing the risks of making the wrong diagnosis: First, do no harm. Int J Infect Dis. 2021 Apr 9:S1201-9712(21)00315-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2021.04.004 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1201971221003155
- Boum Y II, Ouattara A, Torreele E, Okonte C : How to ensure a needs-driven and community-centred vaccination strategy for COVID-19 in Africa. BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e005306. https://gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/6/2/e005306.full.pdf
- Murphy A, Mbau L, McKee M, Hanson K, Torreele E: Can we do for other essential medicines what we are doing for the COVID-19 vaccine? BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e005158. https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/2/e005158
- Torreele, E. (2020). Business-as-Usual will not Deliver the COVID-19 Vaccines We Need. Development. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41301-020-00261-1
- Torreele, E. (2020). The rush to create a covid-19 vaccine can do more harm than good. BMJ. 2020; 370:m3209. https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3209
- Tatay, M. and Torreele, E. (2019). Ensuring access to life-saving medicines as countries shift from Global Fund support. WHO Bulletin. 2019 May 1;97(5):311-311A.
- Balasegaram, M., Kolb, P., McKew, J., Menon, J., Olliaro, P., Sablinski, T., Thomas, Z., Todd, M. H., Torreele, E., and Wilbanks, J. (2017). An open source pharma roadmap. PLoS Med. 2017 Apr 18;14(4):e1002276.
- Brigden, G., Castro, J. L., Ditiu, L., Gray, G., Hanna, D., Low, M., Matsoso, M. P., Perry, G., Spigelman, M., Swaminathan, S., Torreele, E., and Wong, S. (2017). Tuberculosis and antimicrobial resistance - new models of research and development needed. WHO Bulletin. 2017 May 1;95(5):315.
- Torreele, E. and Mazzucato, M. (2016). Fair vaccine pricing please, not random acts of charity. BMJ. 2016 Nov 23;355.
- Torreele, E., Bourdin Trunz, B., Tweats, D., Kaiser, M., Brun, R., Mazué, G., Bray, M. A. and Pécoul, B. (2010). Fexinidazole - a new oral nitroimidazole drug candidate entering clinical development for the treatment of sleeping sickness. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010, 4(12):e923.
- Academic working papers
- De Beer, D., Gutwirth, S., Stengers, I. and Torreele, E. (2020). Espérer un vaccin…oui mais. Article as part of the contribution from Belgian academics to the Exit strategy from Covid lockdown in Belgium (https://www.cartaacademica.org/post-covid), April 2020 https://works.bepress.com/serge_gutwirth/137/
- Torreele, E. (2018). What would a pro-public health regulatory system look like? Yale University Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency (CRIT).
- Torreele, E. (2016). Health Innovation as Public good. Submission to the UN-high Level Panel on Access to Medicines.
- Torreele E: Global health should not be determined by pharma investors and shareholders. STAT First Opinion May 3, 2022. https://www.statnews.com/2022/05/03/pharma-investors-shareholders-should-not-determine-global-health/
- Torreele E. Vaccine equity is not for sale. PLOS Global Public Health Blog 3 May 2022. https://speakingofmedicine.plos.org/2022/05/03/vaccine-equity-is-not-for-sale/
- Torreele E: Serons-nous du bon côté de l’histoire avec notre gestion des vaccins covid? Le Soir, 22 May 2021. https://plus.lesoir.be/370267/article/2021-05-08/la-chronique-carta-academica-serons-nous-du-bon-cote-de-lhistoire-avec-notre
- Torreele E, Kazatchkine M, Mazzucato M: Preparing for the next pandemic requires public health focused industrial policy. BMJ Blog 1 April 2021. https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/04/01/preparing-for-the-next-pandemic-requires-public-health-focused-industrial-policy
- Mazzucato M, Ghosh J, and Torreele E: To control the pandemic, it is essential to suspend intellectual property rights on medical products related to covid-19. The Economist 1 April 2021. https://www.economist.com/by-invitation/2021/04/20/mariana-mazzucato-jayati-ghosh-and-els-torreele-on-waiving-covid-patent
- Torreele E & Temmerman M: Van Wie is het coronavaccin ? Van het volk, vinden wij. Opinion De Morgen 8 Jan 2021. https://www.demorgen.be/meningen/van-wie-is-het-coronavaccin-van-het-volk-vinden-wij~bb01c52f/
- Mazzucato M, Li SL, & Torreele E: Designing vaccines for people, not profits. Project Syndicate December 2020. https://www.project syndicate.org/commentary/covid-vaccines-for-profit-not-for-people-by-mariana-mazzucato-et-al-2020-12
- Torreele E : Euphorie autour du vaccin Covid pour les pays riches, apartheid vaccinal pour les autres / Carte blanche/La Libre, 28 Dec 2020, https://www.lalibre.be/debats/opinions/euphorie-autour-du-vaccin-covid-19-pour-les-pays-riches-apartheid-vaccinal-pour-les-autres-5feb30ca7b50a652f7477d66
- Mazzucato, M., Li, H. L., and Torreele, E. (2021). Designing vaccines for people, not profits. The Daily Maverick.
- Londeix, P., Martin, J., and Torreele, E. (2020) La course au vaccin peut compromettre toute réponse adéquate à la pandémie. Le Monde.
- Torreele, E. (2020). As Politics trumps science in the race for a vaccine, who will protect public health? BMJ Blogs.
- Hassan, F. and Torreele, E. (2020). A Covid-19 vaccine: When ‘solidarity’ meets nationalist profiteering. The Daily Maverick.
- Torreele, E. (2020). Collective intelligence, not market competition, will deliver the best Covid-19 vaccine. STAT, First Opinion.
- Mazzucato, M. and Torreele, E. (2019). How to Develop a COVID-19 Vaccine for All. Project Syndicate.
- Torreele, E. (2020). The search for new antibiotics—market based solutions are not the answer. BMJ Blogs.
- Torreele, E. and Natsis, Y. (2016) “Healthy” innovation: prioritising patient benefit over economic interests. Eurohealth, 22 (3), 33 - 36.
- Torreele, E. (2015). Only a radical overhaul can reclaim medicines for the public interest. PLoS Blogs.
- Torreele, E. and Olliaro, P. (2014). Ebola in West Africa is a wake-up call: What the Ebola crisis tells us about our failing drug development system. Al Jazeera, Opinion.
- In the media
- ‘De farma-industrie geeft ons niet wat we nodig hebben’ (EOS Wetenschap)
- “No minemos la confianza en la vacunación por precipitarnos” (El Pais)
- Vaccin contre le Covid-19 : “On craint une première génération de vaccin médiocre” (TV5 Monde)
- Covid-19 : quels seront les gagnants de la course au vaccin ? / Peut-on croire aux promesses de l'économie maritime ? (France Culture)
- Euphorie autour du vaccin Covid pour les pays riches, apartheid vaccinal pour les autres. (La Libre)
Media coverage on Els Torreele contribution to the development of fexinidazole, a new sleeping sickness drug developed by DNDi:
- A doctor's dream: The faces behind the development of a new drug for sleeping sickness (Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative)
- The discovery of fexinidazole - Interview with Els Torreele (Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative)
- Els' Tweet on A Doctor's Dream (Twitter)
- « La mujer que cambió la historia de los medicamentos » (El Pais)
- How Disease Detectives Unearthed A Forgotten Drug To Fight A Lethal Illness (Huffington Post)
- Is big pharma ignoring the poor? (The Guardian)
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