Ideas Lab Promotes Innovative Approaches to Global Vaccine Equity
Researchers from 13 academic units across the University of Michigan—including all 3 campuses—gathered February 28 to March 2, 2022, for 3 full days of learning and collaboration to develop innovative approaches that address vaccine equity in low- and middle-income countries.
The University of Michigan Center for Global Health Equity hosted the Global Vaccine Equity Ideas Lab, an intensive, interactive event that convened 26 researchers and 8 faculty advisors from various disciplines for facilitated discussions leading to an array of novel research and solution-oriented initiatives that can increase vaccine equity globally.
The Center has allocated up to $3 million for transformative ideas developed by participants in the Ideas Lab. Teams formed during the event will be invited to co-design full projects with global partners and receive Center funding for their initiatives.
“Vaccine equity is a complex issue and solutions must incorporate not only the science of vaccines but also social structures, economics, policies, and more. This cohort of participants brings a variety of vital perspectives to the table,” said Joseph Kolars, Center director and senior associate dean for Education and Global Initiatives in the Medical School.
During the 3-day event, participants heard from guest provocateurs who are recognized leaders in global health equity: Dr. Patricia García, professor of Public Health, Cayetano Heredia University, Peru and affiliate professor of Global Health, University of Washington; Dr. Joseph Mathew, professor of Pediatric Pulmonology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, India; and Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, president of Global Vaccine Business, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.
The Center recruited from all disciplines, seeking participants interested in engaging the complexities of vaccine equity. Previous experience in vaccine-related research was not required.
“Addressing vaccine and vaccination inequities will require truly multidisciplinary solutions, which is why I’m so excited about the composition of faculty participating in this upcoming event,” said Matthew L. Boulton, senior associate dean for Global Public Health in the School of Public Health and lead advisor for the Ideas Lab. “The Center has developed a unique initiative to foster innovative approaches that address what represents one of the greatest contemporary challenges facing the global public health and medical communities.”
The multidisciplinary cohort represented 13 University of Michigan units, from engineering and public policy to pharmacy and business (full list below), as well as researchers from Dearborn and Flint.
“As a Latina researcher working in the field of Latinx health inequities, my work centers on social justice and racial/ethnic health equity. Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 infections and death. Participating in the vaccine equity ideas lab just makes sense,” said Lisa Lapeyrouse, associate professor of Health Science and Administration at the University of Michigan–Flint. “My greatest desire is that this group of scholars can develop and implement new vaccine equity strategies that have meaningful, lasting impacts on the health and quality of life of the most vulnerable in our global community.”