As early as January 2020, the REACTing consortium set up a COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) bringing together experts from various institutions and disciplines. The composition of the COVID-19 SAB was validated and amended by Gilles Bloch, CEO of Inserm and President of AVIESAN; Stewart Cole, President and CEO of Institut Pasteur; Geneviève Chêne, Chief Executive of Santé Publique France; André le Bivic, Director of the Institute of Biological Sciences of the CNRS and co-president of AVIESAN.
Here is the composition of the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board:
Claire Andrejak, pneumologie - CHU Amiens Picardie
Nathalie Bajos, sociologie/démographie - INSERM, EHESS, IRIS
Dominique Costagliola, épidémiologie clinique - Institut Pierre Louis d’épidémiologie et de santé publique, Inserm, Sorbonne Université
Jean-Claude Desenclos, épidémiologie/santé publique - Santé Publique France
Carole Dufouil, épidémiologie/biostatistique - Centre Bordeaux Population Health, Unité mixte Inserm U1219, Université Bordeaux
Gaëtan Gavazzi, gériatrie clinique - CHU Grenoble-Alpes
Jean-Philippe Joseph, médecine générale – Université de Bordeaux
Julie Helms, réanimation - CHU Strasbourg
Yves Gaudin, virologie fondamentale - CNRS, I2BC
Xavier de Lamballerie, virologie - Unité des Virus Émergents, Aix-Marseille Université, IRD_190, Inserm_1207
Hugo Mouquet, Humoral Immunology Lab - Institut Pasteur
Nicolas Nagot, Information Médicale - CHU Montpellier, INSERM UMR 1058
Lionel Piroth, infectiologie - CHU Dijon
Hervé Raoul, virologie - Laboratoire P4 Inserm-Jean Mérieux
Cédric Rat, médecine générale – Université de Nantes
Gabriel Steg, cardiologie – APHP, CHU Bichat Claude Bernard, Inserm U698
Astrid Vabret, virologie clinique - CHU Caen
Laurence Weiss, immunologie clinique – APHP, Hôtel Dieu et Faculté de Médecine Paris Descartes, Université de Paris, INSERM U976 HIPI
Patrick Yeni, infectiologie - Conseil national du sida et des hépatites virales
This external Scientific Advisory Board has had several missions since its constitution, reflecting the activities of the REACTing consortium according to the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic.
On February 10, 2020, the MESRI (Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation) and the MSS (Ministry of Health and Solidarity) granted €500,000 in emergency funds to REACTing, to accelerate research on COVID-19. Thus, the Scientific Advisory Board validated a procedure for submitting a file to REACTing (format of the synopsis to be provided as well as the format of the budget request). The SAB then evaluated the various projects submitted to REACTing, in order to urgently allocate the €500,000 seed money. REACTing thus received 33 research projects, 20 of which were selected by the SAB for a total committed amount of €1M.
In order to fit in well with REACTing’s seed funding process, as well as to answer the priority research questions on COVID in France, various French research stakeholders consulted the Scientific Advisory Board. Thus, since February 2020, the SAB has been regularly updating research areas to be prioritized in France. The areas deemed to be priorities by the Scientific Advisory Board, identified on the basis of the research priorities defined by WHO, are communicated to the various stakeholders.
ANRS |EID receives a large number of research proposals on therapeutics or other themes, without being an obligatory step or aiming at exhaustiveness.
Thus, the SAB gives an advisory opinion, with the objective of identifying so-called priority projects, to be supported for urgent implementation. This does not mean that the other projects are not relevant, but that it is not possible to accompany all projects.
When a project is deemed a priority by the SAB, ANRS | EID does everything possible to support it, both in terms of methodology, in the search for funding or in the administrative processes for its rapid implementation (support for ethical and regulatory submissions, for example). This may also imply that ANRS | EID points to potential funders, indicating that the Scientific Advisory Board has deemed it a priority.
These scientific and methodological evaluations by the SAB allow the CAPNET, a consultative body composed of different actors doing research on humans, to deliver a « national priority » label to the studies with high potential impact.
Several COVID-19 projects or initiatives have been launched thanks to the support of REACTing-ANRS | EID, and are regularly on the SAB’s agenda for progress updates. These may be initiatives for which REACTing-ANRS | EID has provided seed funding and/or for which regular support is provided by ANRS | Emerging Infectious Diseases’ office.
In addition, the SAB ensures that the COVID-19 working groups are coordinated.