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 will be held in Birmingham on the 26 and 27 February 2018.  Further details about the programme, how to register and travel bursaries available 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

Our first catalyst funding call for project and training grants will be announced at BactiVac Inaugural Meeting being held in Birmingham on the 26 and 27 February 2018.

Pump priming projects

Catalyst funding will support academics in bacterial vaccinology to explore new approaches and strategies to advance their vaccines in partnership with LMICs and industry, and acquire the data to support substantive funding applications. The Catalyst funds are flexible, with up to £50,000 available, and expect to provide deliverables within a year post-award. The BactiVac network will be able to provide additional advice as to where to access follow-on funding and how to progress the project.  

This scheme will be run throughout the period of funding (up to August 2021) with calls for proposals prioritising on projects that:

  • Facilitate onward progression of bacterial vaccines along the pipeline to licensure
  • Offer robust solutions to overcome the difficult preclinical to clinical transition
  • Involve BactiVac partnerships, particularly new partnerships, with a long-term work plan
  • Include LMICs and/or industrial partners
  • Have realistic plans in place to demonstrate IP has been considered
  • Include plans for achieving further substantive funding at the end of the project


Catalyst funding will also be available to support training opportunities and exchanges, prioritising those involving LMIC members and academic/industrial partners, for the transfer of knowledge and skills in bacterial vaccinology. The funding limit is likely to be up to £3,000 and the training visit expected to be up to threemonths in duration. The aim of this funding scheme will be to support members to train in vaccine R&D targeting the main preclinical to clinical area of focus for BactiVac.

This scheme will be run throughout the period of funding (up to August 2021) with calls for proposals likely to focus on:

  • Opportunities for both UK and LMIC members – bilateral exchange supported to foster reciprocal relationships between BactiVac members
  • Key skills gaps within an LMIC, academic or industrial partners institution

In all cases, the allocation of funding will be decided by the Management Board and findings reported at the annual Network Meetings (terms of reference will be added by the time of the first call). 

Applicants will need to be members of the network to be eligible to apply for funding available via these catalyst schemes.  Further details about the catalyst funding and how these funds can be accessed will be announced at our first BactiVac network kick-off meeting, which will be held in Birmingham (proposed dates are the 26 and 27 February 2018).

News and events

MRC/DFID African Research Leader scheme 2018 

The MRC and the UK Department for International Development have launched a further call to support ‘rising star’ African Research Leaders (ARL). The aim of the scheme is to strengthen research leadership across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by attracting and retaining exceptionally talented individuals who will lead high quality programmes of research on key global health issues (including vaccine development) pertinent to the region and beyond. 

Lack of grant funding and research infrastructure in many sub-Saharan African countries can make it difficult to attract and retain talented African scientists and as a result, African nationals are currently under-represented as leaders in medical research in the region. The ARL scheme invites applications from African researchers already based in sub-Saharan African countries and from those individuals currently working overseas who wish to return to SSA. High quality applications are particularly welcome from female scientists and from investigators across a broad range of disciplines. 

The scheme is open to talented and enthusiastic African investigators working in all biomedical and health research areas within the MRC/DFID remit on global health. Priority will be given to applications that address the key health problems relevant to national and regional health needs and hence best conducted in SSA. 

The closing date for applications is 27 February 2018 and more information can be found on MRC website.

Bactivac Inaugural Annual Network Meeting

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

All delegate places at this event have now been booked.   Please do look out for the announcement of our 2019 Network meeting!

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


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