A word from the Board: reflections on IDDO’s development

17 July 2017

Last year we announced the launch of the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO). Members of the IDDO Board met recently to discuss key activities to date and the future direction of the new organisation. 

IDDO is building upon the success of the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network, applying and adapting WWARN’s unique approach to data sharing to other poverty-related diseases and emerging infections.

WWARN continues to focus on antimalarial resistance and the efficacy of antimalarial medicines, working with partners across the world to help reduce the number of people falling ill and dying from malaria. There have been significant achievements over the last year, including: the development and launch of the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) malaria standards; publication of evidence that contributed to changes to the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for the treatment of malaria; and the award of ISO accreditation to the WWARN Pharmacology Proficiency Testing programme.

Chair of the IDDO Board, Prof Anders Björkman, said: “WWARN has developed systems and processes to facilitate data sharing that recognise the significant contributions made by data contributors and trial participants. Interest from other disease communities prompted the development of IDDO to bring together new areas of work.

“Our annual face-to-face meeting provided the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the last year and the challenges ahead, including further defining our role in a complex public health landscape,” said Prof Björkman. “The strength of IDDO is the flexibility to adapt to the requirements of specific disease communities and we have already begun to develop bespoke approaches for different diseases and research themes. Going forwards, we will need to ensure a balance between responding to opportunities and ensuring a good fit with IDDO’s approach and ethos.”

The IDDO Board provide advice on IDDO's strategic direction and positioning. Members are drawn from endemic regions, academia and the public health sector, and are selected based on their international expertise and standing. Each disease platform is supported by a steering or scientific committee, according to the specific needs of the disease community.

IDDO envisages assessing new opportunities against four main criteria: the public health importance of the work and the priorities of affected countries; the scientific questions that need to be answered and potential contribution to the production of new knowledge; the value that IDDO can add (such as improving data collection and facilitating data pooling); and the potential resources available, including existing data, commitment from partners and financial support. A key area of focus for next year will be identifying research themes to be led by regional centres and providing more opportunities for inter-centre collaboration and training.

Prof Philippe Guérin, Director of IDDO said: “We are very grateful for the ongoing support of the IDDO Board and the disease-specific advisory committees who are providing invaluable guidance on the projects and activities that will enable us to have the greatest impact. We are looking forward to working on key projects across malaria and the other disease areas and themes in partnership with our collaborators and regional centres in Africa and Asia.”