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The University of Oxford’s commitment to tackling major global health challenges has been strengthened following the endowment of a chair in global health and clinical development. The new permanent post was made possible by a £5 million donation from Brazilian healthcare organisation SAIL for Health.

Marina Domenech, co-founder of SAIL for Health (left) together with Professor Sue Ann Costa Clemens (right)

The SAIL for Health Chair of Global Health and Clinical Development will be held by Professor Sue Ann Costa Clemens CBE, a medical doctor and infectious disease specialist with over 25 years’ experience in clinical development.

Throughout her career Professor Costa Clemens has contributed to the development of more than 20 globally licenced vaccines and pharmaceutical products, including for human papillomavirus, rotavirus, meningitis B and pneumococcus. She was part of the development of the novel oral polio vaccine nOPV2, the first vaccine to get WHO emergency use authorisation, and served as principal investigator of the Brazilian arm of the Oxford-AstraZeneca SARS-CoV2 vaccine trial, which provided nearly half of the subjects needed to prove efficacy of the vaccine against COVID-19.

Professor Costa Clemens also works to advance education and support capacity-building for young scientists from lower- and middle-income countries, including through the creation of the first worldwide Master in Vaccinology and Drug Development at the University of Siena.

Professor Costa Clemens currently leads the Oxford Vaccine Group for Latin America, which sits within the Department of Paediatrics. Through capacity-building, clinical development and advocacy, the group seeks to foster innovation to improve health and access strategies in the fight against infectious diseases.  

As the SAIL for Health Chair of Global Health and Clinical Development, Professor Costa Clemens will broaden and strengthen Oxford’s research in Latin America and develop the group into the University’s first tailor-made research and educational hub for clinical development there – a place where young scientists and future leaders can learn about the ethical, operational and regulatory aspects of vaccine and drug development. The team will also provide training in disease surveillance and risk mapping using epidemiological data, with the aim of identifying early infectious disease outbreaks and preventing them from developing into epidemics or pandemics.

The permanent endowment of the SAIL for Health Chair will ensure that Oxford University’s focus on capacity-building through research and teaching in Latin America is sustained.

Read the full story on the Department of Paediatrics website. 

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