Professor Sam McConkey takes up role as Chair of European Vaccine Initiative
- General news
Professor Sam McConkey, Head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, has been appointed Chair of the European Vaccine Initiative.
The European Vaccine Initiative is a leading European non-profit partnership that supports global efforts to develop effective and affordable vaccines against diseases of poverty and emerging infectious diseases.
In particular, the Initiative supports global efforts to develop effective and affordable vaccines against diseases that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries. This is achieved through constructive collaboration and exchange with academia, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, policy makers, donors and other product development partnerships.
Current members of the European Vaccine Initiative are the Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk; Heidelberg University, Germany; the Jenner Vaccine Foundation, Oxford; Pasteur Institut, Paris and RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dublin.
Professor McConkey is Professor and Head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at RCSI and a Consultant in General Medicine, Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Beaumont Hospital Dublin, and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
He has previously served as a board member and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of European Vaccine Initiative. He was a member and chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of European Malaria Vaccine Initiative 2007-2009. In Ireland, he was a prominent expert voice throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, helping people to better understand how the virus spread, the role of public health measures, and the importance of vaccination.
Opportunity and responsibility
Commenting on his appointment, Professor McConkey said: “The global pandemic highlighted the criticality of equitable vaccine availability and put conversations about how vaccines work into the mainstream. There is much to learn from the speed with which the COVID vaccines were developed, and the research and collaboration underpinning their success. The great disappointment of that time was, however, the global inequalities in vaccine distribution and uptake.
“We have an opportunity and a responsibility to build on this greater public awareness and the learnings in order to tackle the prevailing inequalities in vaccine access. I am pleased to take up this role as Chair of the European Vaccine Initiative and I look forward to working with its many partners to support the development and equitable roll out of vaccines against the diseases that disproportionally affect communities in low- and middle-income countries,” added Professor McConkey.
Congratulating Professor McConkey on his appointment, RCSI Vice-Chancellor Professor Cathal Kelly said: “As a university wholly focused on health sciences, we are committed to contributing to improved global health and wellbeing, and to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. If we are to learn the lessons of the pandemic, equitable access to vaccine protection must be a key imperative for everyone involved in healthcare policy, research and provision. We are proud to be members of the European Vaccine Initiative and we wish Professor McConkey every success as he begins his term as Chair.”
RCSI is dedicated to innovating for a healthier future and is the highest ranked university in the world for its contribution to good health and well-being, the third UN Sustainable Development Goal, in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023.