Time for a Reality Check for Neglected Diseases

By Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director

The field of neglected disease R&D today is experiencing what could be characterized as a phase of shifting sands: after long inaction for decades, we are now experiencing both remarkable advances and rude set-backs. The innovative ideas, incentives, and R&D partnerships, such as DNDi, that emerged over the last decade are right at the nexus of these movements – of governments, industry, philanthropy, and civil society, among others – and they thus impact directly on our work. They provide a constant reality check that reminds us of just how fragile the field of not-for-profit drug development for neglected diseases is, be it in times of advances or in times of set-backs. We have to take this seriously into account and feed our reflections, debates, and efforts to secure the sustainability of the environment in which we work to solve, in the long term, the problems of millions of patients.

First analysis of impact of the DNDi model

DNDi’s 10th anniversary in 2013 was an opportunity to look back and undertake a 10-year analysis of the impact of the DNDi model, aimed at addressing the health needs of the poorest populations. Based on concrete experiences in drug research and development, the report describes the four key pillars of the alternative model, provides real and estimated costs of repurposing drugs and new chemical entities, and evokes the lessons learned throughout the past decade.
Read the paper
Listen to Dr Bernard Pécoul podcast

DNDi’s 10th anniversary conference at Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, in collaboration with PLOS, DNDi and two of its founding partners, Institut Pasteur and MSF, co-hosted a special scientific conference at Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. The event gathered over 400 attendees during two days. The sessions explored the scientific successes and challenges over the past decade of innovation for neglected diseases carried out by various innovative initiatives, including DNDi. In addition, a special ceremony celebrated the DNDi Project and Partnership of the Year Awards.


Retirement of Emeritus Professor Ahmed Mohamed El-Hassan, the “father of leishmaniasis in Africa”

After a long and distinguished career, Emeritus Professor Ahmed Mohamed El-Hassan is retiring from his daily activities. Prof. El-Hassan is an inspiration not only to the entire leishmaniasis research community around the world, but to the entire neglected disease community. His work with DNDi has been key to the success of the organization in Africa and globally, especially through the work of the LEAP platform. Prof. El-Hassan will continue to share his knowledge and experience by publishing and teaching. He has been and will remain a true Friend of DNDi.
See a DNDi interview on capacity strengthening with Prof. El-Hassan (2012)


DNDi’s project on visceral leishmaniasis selected as Health R&D Demonstration Project by WHO

Early December 2013, WHO Member States and Experts assessed 22 shortlisted proposals for the identification of health R&D Demonstration Projects. The aim of this selection is to provide evidence on innovative mechanisms to fund and coordinate public health R&D to address unmet medical needs of developing countries and to contribute to further discussion on a sustainable global framework as recommended by the Expert Working Group on Financing and Coordination (CEWG). Eight projects were selected, including one by DNDi and partners’ on VL globally. The projects and a requested addendum on their innovative aspects were reviewed at the 134th meeting of the WHO Executive Board (EB) from 20-25 January 2014. A report on these initial steps will be released at the World Health Assembly for further consideration.  


Three new scientific papers were published: One presenting the results of a clinical trial on Ambisome to treat visceral leishmaniasis in Africa, another presenting the results of a clinical trial on ASMQ in India, and one on fenarimol series for Chagas disease. DNDi and PLOS Medicine Collection also published a special collection on “A Decade of Open Access and NTD R&D”.