The BactiVac network


bactivac-logo-webThe BactiVac network was established in August 2017 following the award of £2.2m funding under the MRC’s GCRF Networks in Vaccines Research and Development initiative. 

This funding will support the establishment of a global bacterial vaccinology network, BactiVac, to accelerate the development of vaccines against bacterial infections relevant to low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The BactiVac network will deliver this through catalyst project and training awards to encourage cross-collaboration between academic and industrial partners in developed and developing nations.

About us

The Bacterial Vaccines (BactiVac) network will bring together academic, industrial and other partners involved in vaccine research against human and animal bacterial infections from the UK and LMICs. The network will foster partnership, disseminate relevant information and provide catalyst project and training support with the aim of accelerating vaccine development to bacterial infections relevant to LMICs.

The BactiVac network is supported by the GCRF Networks in Vaccines Research and Development, which is co-funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The BactiVac network is directed by Professor Cal MacLennan and Professor Adam Cunningham and is hosted at the University of Birmingham, aligned to the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy and the Institute of Microbiology and Infection.

 gcfr-logo-200px  mrc-logo-200px  bbsrc-200px  III-logo-200px  IMI-logo-200px

Our vision

Our vision is to save lives through accelerating the development and use of vaccines against bacterial infections relevant to LMICs. 

Vaccines save millions of lives every year and typically work silently in the background, promoting the body’s ability to kill the pathogen before an infection is established. Despite this, bacteria still causes around six million deaths per year in humans and many more in animals, with people in LMICs disproportionately affected.

Worryingly, as anti-microbial resistance (AMR) increases, the number of deaths from infection will rise with devastating personal and economic consequences. One reason bacteria can cause so much harm is because there are many different diseases caused by bacteria for which there is either no vaccine or the existing vaccine does not provide complete protection. New vaccines against bacterial infections will help people in all countries, but most prominently in LMICs. Unfortunately, there are many barriers that currently prevent such vaccines from being developed. These barriers can be for scientific reasons, such as what to put in the vaccine, or economic issues, such as neglect due to lack of commercial viability.

Our aim is to establish an open network of experts from multiple disciplines and provide a forum to help overcome the barriers that inhibit the delivery of new vaccines to where they are needed. We envisage this to be achieved through promoting close interactions and working between members, particularly across disciplines, encouraging new ways of working and the dissemination of best practice. Therefore, we have established the BactiVac network to develop vaccines against LMIC-relevant bacterial infections in humans and animals. Although the network is based in the UK, it will grow through its LMIC partners harnessing the considerable strengths across the globe in disciplines related to bacterial vaccinology, including immunology, epidemiology, systems biology, clinical trials and support for vaccine licensure.

We believe this is best achieved through having a strong LMIC involvement, spread across multiple continents, from the onset. This is reflected in our Management Board, which includes members from LMICs across the globe. To deliver our vision we have been awarded substantial funding from the MRC under the GCRF Networks in Vaccines Research and Development initiative to fund the network and catalyst projects and training opportunities for its members. This will ultimately lead to the enabling of scientists, clinicians and companies from around the world to come together and share their skills and knowledge to generate new vaccines that will save lives from bacterial infections.

Work with us: Becoming a BactiVac member

Membership of the BactiVac network will help our members to facilitate the growth of R&D capacity and know-how to accelerate vaccines along the R&D pipeline.

The BactiVac network seeks to accelerate the development and implementation of vaccines to bacterial infections through its vision to facilitate end-to-end LMIC human and animal bacterial vaccine development. It will focus on the transition of promising vaccines from preclinical studies to clinical trials, where many promising candidates flounder. Bringing together diverse parties with expertise in complementary aspects of bacterial vaccinology and a strong emphasis on LMIC and industry involvement, will help galvanise the community, foster new partnership and disseminate key relevant information. This will be supported by our:

  • Members directory to allow dissemination of key information and connect members to potential partners
  • Website and newsfeeds to provide an outward-facing presence to provide network members with further details about opportunities available through the network, inform the public of our activities and provide general interest update and serve as an advocacy portal for bacterial vaccines
  • Catalyst project and training funding to support innovative bacterial vaccine R&D pump-priming pilot studies partnerships, and facilitate training opportunities to learn the skills needed to grow the research and industrial base in vaccinology with an emphasis on transferring vaccinology skills to LMICs
  • Annual meetings to provide a forum for members to build connections, exchange ideas, hear presentations from knowledge-gap analyses, pump-primed projects and training activities funded from our catalyst fund  

    The first BactiVac Inaugural Annual Network Meeting was held in Birmingham on the 26 and 27 February 2018.  Further details can be found on the Inaugural Network Meeting page.

The key benefits of becoming a member include:

  • Access to our catalyst funding to pump prime projects and facilitate training visits
  • Invitation to our annual meetings; registration costs will be subsidised by the network to encourage members to attend
  • Access to details held within our members directory to facilitate connecting members to potential partners

If you would like to become a member, please complete our online membership application form

Decisions on applications will be communicated within two weeks of receipt. 

Alternatively, if you would like to receive updates related to the BactiVac Network via our newsletter, want to be notified when we are open for applications for catalyst funding calls (projects and training visits) or open for registration to attend future network meetings (including applying for LMIC travel bursaries), please complete our expression of interest form.

Catalyst funding

Catalyst funding awards for pump priming projects and training are available to support scientists in bacterial vaccinology to explore new approaches and strategies to advance their vaccines in partnership with LMICs and across the academia/industry divide.

Find out more:

Our first round of catalyst funding for pump priming projects and training awards is now OPEN. 

Key dates: catalyst pump priming projects and training awards round one

  • Applications open: Monday 26 February 2018
  • Applications close: Sunday 22 April 2018, 12am midnight (GMT)
  • Notification of funding: By Friday 1 June 2018
  • Funding available: From Friday 1 June 2018   

Dates and details of future funding rounds will be published on our website and promoted via twitter. Follow us @BactiVac using the hashtag #BactiVacFunding. 

Please download our BactiVac Catalyst Funding flyer to circulate and/or display within your organisation.

News and events

BactiVac Annual Network Meeting 2019

Following on from the successful 2018 Inaugural Network meeting, our next annual meeting will be held on 20 and 21 March 2019 so please hold the dates in your diary!  Find out more about the meeting

BactiVac receives additional funding from UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The BactiVac Network has received an additional £600,000 of funding from The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). The aim of the ISCF is to bring together the UK world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. This is part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development funding over the next 4 years.

BactiVac’s aim to accelerate the development of bacterial vaccines is strongly aligned to the ‘Accelerating innovative healthcare and medicines’ challenge identified as part of the UK government’s investment in the areas of advanced therapies, medicines and vaccines development and manufacturing.

The additional ISCF funding will allow BactiVac to support a larger portfolio of catalyst projects in the Network’s first year of operation, with priority given to projects that particularly:

  • demonstrate strong industry engagement and/or are industry led
  • focus on the development of a vaccine against bacterial pathogens that are of interest/aligned to UK Health

Outputs from funded catalyst projects will support capacity building and contribute to the ISCF’s target to boost the UK economy, support high-value, highly-skilled manufacturing, and increase productivity. These catalyst pump-priming projects will address key bacterial pathogenic infections that are aligned to UK health priorities.

BactiVac is one of 5 networks that are supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Networks in Vaccines Research & Development, which is co-funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Dr Martin Broadstock, Programme Manager for Immunology at the MRC, said: “Our goal through the MRC/BBSRC Networks is to accelerate vaccine R&D and the additional ISCF investment will help achieve this by supporting academics and industry partners to work together more closely.”

Professor Cal MacLennan, BactiVac Director welcomed the news of the award, adding that: “this additional government support extends our ability to help advance promising products along the bacterial vaccines pipeline, to the point at which they can be serve their primary purpose of preventing disease and death.”

Bactivac Inaugural Annual Network Meeting

Our Inaugural Annual BactiVac Network Meeting was held on 26 & 27 February 2018 at the University of Birmingham.  The meeting focused on sharing our vision, objectives and strategy and provided our members with the opportunity to shape these further.  Find out more. 

UK International Development Minister visits BactiVac

UK International Development Minister, Alistair Burt, visited the University of Birmingham on 22 February 2018 to find outmore about BactiVac and what the Network is aiming to achieve. Professor Adam Cunningham, co-Director of the BactiVac Network, spoke to Alistair Burt about the importance of working in partnership with LMICs and across the academia/industry divide to accelerate the development of bacterial vaccines to prevent disease and save lives. Find out more about the visit here

Adam Cunningham and Alistair Burt

Listen to what Alistair Burt had to say about the importance of BactiVac.

Launch of the Vaccine Development Toolkit

The MRC, BBSRC and Department of Health have launched a vaccine development process map  to show the key stages in vaccine development.  The map was developed by the UK Vaccine R&D Network to facilitate understanding of the key stages in vaccine development and importantly, where bottlenecks could potentially delay progress.

The UK Vaccine R&D Network have also produced a summary of key points to guide decision making  in the context of an emergency response to an epidemic or pandemic and carried out case studies to highlight where bottlenecks in vaccine development occur in response to an outbreak.  The toolkit also includes details case studies where three candidate vaccines were evaluated against the process map to verify if the bottlenecks identified were accurate.

BactiVac network launched

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have established a global bacterial vaccinology network that brings key individuals and organisations together to facilitate end-to-end bacterial vaccine development for low and middle income countries (LMICs). 


Contact us

The BactiVac Network is hosted by the University of Birmingham and is aligned to the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy (III) and the Institute of Microbiology and Infection (IMI).

Follow us on Twitter: @bactivac

How to find us

General enquiries

BactiVac Office
The Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham 
B15 2TT


Tel: +44(0) 121 414 6973

Key contacts

Director of the BactiVac Network

Professor Cal MacLennan

Co-Director of the BactiVac Network

Professor Adam Cunningham

BactiVac Network Operations Manager

Dr Johanna Dean

BactiVac Network Administrator

Susan Pope

BactiVac Network Administrator

Evelina Balandyte