News Release 

€9.75m Irish-led project set to strengthen EU response to future pandemics

National University of Ireland Galway will lead a major new European project on pandemic preparedness and response, starting February 2021

National University of Ireland Galway

Grant Announcement

  • New €9.75m Irish-Led Project Set to Strengthen EU Preparedness and Response to Future Pandemics

  • National University of Ireland Galway will lead a major new European project on pandemic preparedness and response, starting February 2021

  • The PANDEM-2 Project will develop IT systems and processes to improve the European Union's preparedness and response to future pandemics

  • New solutions developed by PANDEM-2 will enable the simulation of future pandemics and the training of pandemic managers on a national and pan-European basis

  • PANDEM-2 tools will also allow for improved planning and management of critical resources including hospital beds, PPE and vaccines

Under Embargo Until Tuesday, 2 February, 2021 at 00:01am IST: National University of Ireland Galway has been awarded almost €10 million funding by the EU to develop a suite of novel concepts, services and IT systems to improve how the EU prepares for and responds to future pandemics. The two-year project, known as PANDEM-2, aims to create a more consistent and futureproof approach to pandemic management.

The Problem: While Ireland and Europe have responded robustly to the current pandemic, there is room for improvement in the analysis of real time data, in the sharing of information across borders and in adopting common and consistent policies. Future pandemics are to be expected with population growth, international air travel and environmental factors increasing the likelihood of diseases crossing from animals to humans.

Protecting the health and security of citizens across Ireland and the EU in the face of these pandemic threats requires member states and agencies to share information and to collaborate on joint policies and approaches.

The Solution: The PANDEM-2 Project will develop IT systems to improve the EU's preparedness and response to future pandemics. The outputs will enable pandemic managers to prepare for a wide variety of different pandemic scenarios and possible responses. PANDEM-2 technologies will also enable improved pan-European planning and management of critical resources including hospital beds, PPE and vaccines. This will position Europe to respond coherently and effectively to the next pandemic, whenever it comes and whatever form it takes.

Government of Ireland, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said: "I am delighted to see further EU investment in research and innovation which will help us prepare at a national and European level for future pandemics. I would like to congratulate and thank National University of Ireland Galway for their leadership of this project, which will seek to harness the learning from COVID-19 in the development of a range of innovative technologies to further support and improve the European Union's preparedness and response to future pandemics. While we are still facing many challenges with COVID-19, it is critical that we also focus on longer term developments for pandemic preparedness, as this project will. I am delighted that Irish research will be central to this work."

Professor Máire Connolly, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, National Universiy of Ireland Galway and Coordinator of the PANDEM-2 Project, said: "COVID-19 has had devastating ecoonomic, social and health impacts on countries worldwide. The PANDEM-2 Project aims to better prepare EU member states for future pandemics through innovations in technology, training and cross-border collaboration. The state-of-the-art tools that will be developed by PANDEM-2 have the potential to transform how Europe prepares for future large-scale healthcare crises through improved analysis of surveillance and contact tracing data, innovative pandemic modelling, better resource allocation and training of pandemic managers using simulations across Europe."

President of National University of Ireland Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: "I would like to congratulate Professor Connolly and the project consortium on receiving this significant EU funding award. As we continue to experience the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is reassuring to know that National University of Ireland Galway and the PANDEM-2 consortium will be at the forefront of developing systems to improve the EU's preparedness and response to future pandemics. One of our strategic priorities at National University of Ireland Galway is to ensure our research and teaching brings excellent outcomes for the public good. There is no greater need in that regard right now than public health. As a university, we play an important role in shaping society and this project amplifies our commitment to contributing to the health, wellbeing and security of society throughout the EU."

The Team: The project consortium, led by National University of Ireland Galway, brings together European leaders from the health, security, defence, microbiology, communications, information technology and emergency management fields, ensuring that the most modern science serves the real-world needs of healthcare, government and society. This consortium includes two other Irish companies, Carr Communications and Pintail Ltd. PANDEM-2's Advisory Board membership includes the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Professor Jim Duggan, School of Computer Science, College of Science and Engineering, National University of Ireland Galway, said: "We are very excited to start working on PANDEM-2. Our role within the project builds upon our work from PANDEM which involved research on pandemic response and the development of a resource modelling tool, PANDEM-CAP. This project will aid the development of an IT dashboard that will host pandemic-relevant data from across Europe. This data will enable pandemic managers in capacity building and developing operational strategy for cross border pandemic response so that Europe will be as well positioned as possible for any future pandemic that may arise."

The Foundations: PANDEM-2 builds upon key insights and lessons learned in several previous EU-funded projects including the original PANDEM. PANDEM was established to identify gaps and priority research needs for pandemic preparedness and response in Europe. PANDEM-2 will build upon this research and ensure better preparedness for the future to ensure better decisions are made to improve health systems and pandemic management in the future.

For more information please visit https://pandem-2.eu or for regular updates follow PANDEM-2 on Twitter (https://twitter.com/PANDEM2H2020) and LinkedIn (https:http://www.linkedin.com/PANDEM2H2020).

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For Press contact Gwen O'Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, National University of Ireland Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or +353 87 6601592. 

Or

Sharon Sorohan, Carr Communications at ssorohan@carrcommunications.ie +353 86 1236245.

Photo NUIG 0999.jpg: Professor Máire Connolly, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway and Coordinator of the PANDEM-2 Project. Photo: Martina Regan

Photo NUIG 1012.jpg: Professor Máire Connolly, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway and Coordinator of the PANDEM-2 Project. Photo: Martina Regan

Photo NUIG 1174.jpg: Professor Máire Connolly, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway and Coordinator of the PANDEM-2 Project. Photo: Martina Regan

Photo NUIG 1345.jpg: Professor Jim Duggan, School of Computer Science, College of Science and Engineering, National University of Ireland Galway. Photo: Martina Regan

Notes to Editors

Bio of Professor Máire Connolly

Professor Connolly graduated in medicine from National University of Ireland Galway, holds a master's in public health from University College Dublin and a Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her areas of expertise include health security, disease surveillance, emerging infectious diseases, pandemic preparedness and humanitarian emergencies. Her research interests include the application of informatics, modelling and simulation to public health, use of big data for disease surveillance, use of visual analytics to support decision making in outbreak response and game-based learning for pandemic management.

Prior to joining National University of Ireland Galway, she worked at WHO/HQ in Geneva for 15 years as Coordinator for Disease Control in Emergencies and subsequently Advisor to WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Security up to 2012. Her role included setting the global research agenda for pandemic preparedness and humanitarian emergencies. She has implemented international research projects funded by the EC, ECHO, USAID, DFID and Irish Aid. She has over 50 WHO technical reports and peer-reviewed publications and has published three books on communicable diseases in emergencies. She has worked on UN missions in 15 emergency affected countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, most recently to Jordan as part of the WHO Syrian crisis response.

About National University of Ireland Galway

Established in 1845, National University of Ireland Galway is a bilingual university comprised of four colleges, 19 schools, five research institutes, 19,070 students, 3,308 international students, 2,200 staff, research collaborations with 3,267 international institutions in 114 countries, 110,000 alumni, while 98% of graduates are in employment or further study within six months. For more information visit http://www.nuigalway.ie.

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