The Influenza Centre (www.influensasenteret.no) is a leading international centre in preclinical and clinical development of influenza vaccines. It receives core funding from the Ministry of Health and Care Services and it is also supported through grants from the European Union (EU) and the Research Council of Norway (RCN /NFR). The centre is an integral part of the Gade Institute, the University of Bergen (UoB) and the Haukeland University Hospital (HUH /HUS).

The Influenza Centre’s vision is to reduce the global burden of influenza illness through being an international leader in development of new and improved influenza vaccines.

The vision will be achieved through our main activities:
• Evaluation of novel adjuvants and vaccine formulations
• Preclinical research and development of promising vaccine candidates
• Human clinical phase I-IV trials of new influenza vaccines under good clinical practice (GCP)
• Education and prevention of influenza in the general population, health care workers, patients

The knowledge generated through these activities will
• Result in improved understanding of immunological mechanisms of protection
• Develop a knowledge platform of immune response and immunological correlates of protection in mice and man
• Facilitate and strengthen collaborative vaccine research between basic, translational and clinical medicine
• Contribute to transfer of technology to low- and middle-income countries
• Improve general knowledge and understanding of influenza and vaccination
• Build competence in vaccinology through education of masters and doctoral students in collaboration with the Bergen Research School in Inflammation (BRSI)


The focus of activities on research and development of influenza vaccines are:
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Research Financing of the Centre
The Influenza Centre is located at the Gade Institute, University of Bergen and receives core funding through a permanent allocation from the Ministry of Health and Care Services The Centre is/has been a partner in 4 EU grants (Framework programmes (FP) 4, 5, 6 and 7), 3 RCN Globvac grants and coordinated an international consortium funded by the RCN. The Centre has received funding from The Norwegian Directorate of Health, and is a partner in a RCN grant for developing vaccines against diarrhoea (EntVac) and in the Bergen Clinical Vaccine Consortium (BCVC), which is funded by Helse Bergen.

Coordination
RCN Globvac 2008-2012. The immunogenicity & protective efficacy of plant derived influenza H5N1 vaccine in preclinical models. Partners: UK, Germany, USA and Norway

Partner
RCN Globvac 2013-16. Improved childhood vaccination and preparedness against seasonal and pandemic influenza: prospects for cellular immunity. Partners: Norway (The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, University of Bergen), USA, Hungary, Bangladesh and Ethiopia

RCN Biobank 2013-16. Perinatal outcomes and childrens health after prenatal exposure to influenza and influenza vaccination. Norway (The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, University of Bergen), USA (Columbia University, La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology)

K.G. Jebsen Center for Influenza vaccines 2013-16. University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital, The Norwegian Institute of Public Health and University of Bergen

EU FP7 NASPANVAC 2008-2012. Intranasal pandemic influenza vaccine (contract number EU FP7 2007-2.3.3-1, 202083). Partners: UK, Ireland, Italy and Norway

EU FP6 Panfluvac 2007-2011: Efficacious vaccine formulation system for prophylactic control of influenza pandemics (Contract number: EU FP6-2005-SSP-5B 044115). Partners: Switzerland, UK, Germany, Italy and Norway

EU FP5 FLUPAN 2001-6: Preparing for an influenza pandemic (Contract Number QLK2-CT-2001-01786). Partners: UK, France, Italy and Norway

EU FP 4 1996-99: Genetic and immunological safety of DNA vaccines (Contract Number BIO4-CT96-0637 EU)- Partners: UK, Ireland, Spain and Norway


International and National Profile
World Health Organisation (WHO):
- Invited expert to the WHO Integrated Meeting on Development & Clinical Trials of Influenza Vaccines that Induce Broadly Protective & Long-Lasting Immune Responses 2013
- Invited expert to WHO International Meeting On Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness, 2012
- Invited expert advisor to the WHO on pandemic influenza vaccines and on influenza vaccines that induce broad spectrum/ long-lasting Immunity 2009-
- Member of the WHO International Working Group on the Standardisation and Control of Nucleic Acid Vaccines (NAVSac) 1996-2000
- Author first World Health Organisation (WHO) pandemic plan 1999 http://www.who.int/emc-documents/influenza/whocdscsredc991c.html

International:
- Evaluator Royal Society Grant UK 2012
- Evaluator Action Medical Grant UK 2012
- Evaluator Southern African Medical Research Council 2011-
- Founding member and board member of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses (http://www.isirv.org/) 2003-
- Invited speaker / chairperson at national and international conferences
- Associate Editor for the Blackwell journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 2006-
- Peer reviewer for >10 scientific journals.
- Organiser of number of scientific meetings including “Options for the Control of Influenza”

European:
- Lecturer Summer School on Influenza, University of Siena, Italy 2011, 2012
- Ph.D. examiner for University of Siena (Italy) & University of Groningen, (Netherlands) 2012
- Expert reviewer for investigator-initiated trials for the European Union 2008
- Advisor to European Medicines Agency on evaluation of influenza vaccines 2010-
- Member of Nordic Fluenz advisory board 2012
- Member of an ad hoc 6-member European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) Expert Advisory Group on Human H5N1 Vaccines. 2007
- Member of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza, ESWI, a closed group of 11 European influenza scientists and clinicians, from its inauguration in 1992-2001.

Industry:
- Scientific expert for the vaccine and pharmaceutical industry 2008-12

Norway:
- Member of The Norwegian Influenza Pandemic committee, which provides advice to the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services 2002-
- Committee member “Metodevurdering på effekt og bruk av oseltamivir”. Nasjonalt Kunnskapssenter for helsetjenesten, 2007
- Board member of the Norwegian vaccine cluster (NorVaccine). 2011-12

Scientific Collaborators
The Influenza Centre has an active international network of collaborators through EU and RCN funded projects with the following:
- Dr. James Robertson, Diane Major, National Institute for Biological Standards & Controls (NIBSC) UK
- Prof. Maria Zambon, Dr. Katja Hoschler, Health Protection Agency (HPA), UK
- Prof. John Oxford, Retroscreen Virology, UK
- Dr. Laura Campiteli, Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Italy
- Prof. Emanuele Montomoli, University of Siena, Italy
- Dr. Kenneth McCullough, IVI, Switzerland
- Prof. Carlos Guzman, Helmholtz, Germany
- Prof. Kingston Mills, Trinity College, Ireland
- Prof. Gillian Air, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, USA
- Dr. Vidadi Yusibov, Fraunhofer, USA
- Crucell Berna Biotech Ltd., Netherlands
- Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Netherlands
- Archimedes Pharma Limited, UK

The Influenza Centre has a good national and local network of collaborators and is involved in influenza and vaccine related projects as detailed below:
- Norflu: Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH)
- Influenza vaccine studies: HUH (Prof. Haakon Sjursen, Dr. Per Espen Akselsen)
- Influenza vaccine studies in children: HUH (Prof. Hans Jørgen Aarstad, Dr. Camilla Tøndal)
- Influenza vaccination of healthcare workers: HUH (Drs. Ingrid Smith, Per Espen Akselsen, Kristin Kilhus)
- Influenza patient studies: HUH (Drs. Steinar Skrede, Kristin Mohn, Ingrid Smith)
- Influenza in General Practice: Uni Helse (Prof. Guri Rørtveit, Dr. Kristian Simonsen)
- MS and Influenza: HUH (Prof. Kjell-Morten Myhr, Dr. Henning Olberg)
- Influenza Infection- UoB (Drs. Pål Voltersvik, Leif Bostad, NIPH)
- Immunodeficiency and Influenza: HUH/UoB Dr. Karl Brokstad, Profs, Alfred Halstensen, Einar Kristoffersen
- Entvac: UOB and HUH (Profs. Halvor Sommerfelt, Anne Berit Guttormsen, Nina Langeland)

Laboratory Expertise
The Influenza Centre is situated in the Laboratory Building (new in 2009) with modern well-equipped laboratory facilities. At the centre, we have the facilities, expertise and standardized and established methods (Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)) for preclinical and good clinical practice (GCP) clinical trials. SOPs are available to comprehensively study the kinetics of the humoral and cellular immune response in mice and man (including the core facilities, BioRad luminex machine and BD FACSCanto for multiparameter flow cytometry) using from the large unique biobanks collected throughout human vaccine trials.

Education and Supervision of Students
The Influenza Centre supervises bachelor, masters and doctoral students. The Influenza Centre has mentored 3 post docs. An extensive list is available on Rebecca Cox CV.

Teaching
The Centre actively participates in teaching of Virology, Immunology and Vaccinology of undergraduate and postgraduate (masters and Ph.D.) students in medicine, pharmacy, cell biology and in molecular biology.

Popular science and communication
The Influenza Centre contributes to news through interviews on television (NRK, TV2, ABC News), the radio (NRK Ekko, Norgesglasset), in the newspapers (Dagbladet, VG, BT) and magazines (Forskerforum, Hubro) about influenza and vaccines. The Centre also contributes to the public debate through writing of chronicle in the newspaper.

Scientific Publications
The Influenza Centre has >100 peer reviewed publications and book chapters. 26 publications in the last 5 years, 6 during 2011 and 6 in 2012 in high-ranking peer reviewed journals such as Lancet, Vaccine, PLOSone, the Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, and the Journal of Infectious Diseases.