The Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub: securing the supply of essential vaccines
Formed in April 2018, the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub (Vax-Hub) is an academic collaboration led by UCL Biochemical Engineering and the University of Oxford. Co-directed by Professor Martina Micheletti (UCL) and Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert (Oxford), Vax-Hub comprises world-leading experts in vaccinology, synthetic biology, biochemical, materials, and system engineering.
The Vax-Hub mission is to make the UK the global centre for integrated discovery through to bioprocess manufacture of next-generation vaccines. In doing so, the Hub focuses on developing innovative tools and technologies to enhance future vaccine manufacturing whilst promoting long-term partnerships and upskilling.
Vax-Hub goals include:
- Improve Global Health – Ensure that fewer people die from vaccine-preventable diseases through the development and optimisation of manufacturing platforms enabling the timely, affordable supply of vaccines, for both routine and emergency scenarios
- Develop Skills – Increase academic and industrial training through continuing professional development (CPD) and GMP and QA/QP training
- Benefit National Economies – Increase value to the economy via appropriate platform technologies enabling lower costs of production, especially empowering local manufacturing within LMIC communities
- Boost Vaccine Pipeline – Increase the number of products progressing from lab to commercial scale, speeding up time to market
- Impact Policy – Shape UK and international policy through continued leadership in vaccine research, user group interactions and manufacturer and funder engagement
- Public Engagement – Engage with the community to improve widespread knowledge and understanding of vaccines and their role against emerging resistant pathogens and future pandemics
There are currently 21 people employed by the Hub working across four institutions. The Hub has 19 member companies and organisations that support Vax-Hub activities. To date, members of the group have participated in more than 70 conferences, interviews and invited talks. Vax-Hub has funded training places for staff working in vaccine manufacturing from 15 + low- and middle-income countries and offered a total of 12 interaction vouchers and feasibility studies to member companies. £40 + millions of leveraged funding were obtained through the Hub, and more than 35 communications, science papers and research articles were published. The group has also organised 16 + meetings, workshops and networking events to date.
Since the start of the Vax-Hub, funds have been awarded to support feasibility studies and interaction vouchers across industry and academia. These covered key areas of vaccine development and production: scaling-up, formulation, and quality control approaches.
In October 2021, the UK Vaccine Network Hubs, namely the UCL-Oxford Vax-Hub and the Imperial College Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research (FVMR) Hub, won the Team category award at the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Awards.
In March 2022, Vax-Hub was awarded £2 million by the Department of Health and Social Care to continue its research until March 2023. This will enable the Hub to carry on working to improve vaccine manufacturing globally, with a special focus on GMP readiness, platform manufacturing, analytics, and formulation.
Vax-Hub outreach activities in schools
In July 2022, the Vax-Hub Outreach team launched a CPD programme for science teachers interested in learning more about vaccine design, development and production. Alongside this programme, the team is collaborating with schools to deliver talks and workshops on biochemical engineering, with a focus on vaccine manufacture, and on career opportunities in the field.