Coalition retreat focuses on the transition to CERCLE

The Coalition’s governance members met to reflect on past years and strategize for the next phase

Members of the Coalition’s steering committee, co-chairs of the working groups, and the secretariat gathered for the annual retreat of the Coalition governance, held on 5 and 6 July, virtually and in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was hosted by the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit (Bangkok), one of the founding members of the Coalition.

The need for CERCLE

This meeting comes at a pivotal moment for the Coalition as it embarks on a significant transition, expanding its scope beyond COVID-19 and adopting the name ‘CERCLE’, the Coalition for Equitable Research in Low-Resource Settings. The discussions were aimed at charting the course for CERCLE and defining its principles and priorities for both the immediate and long-term future.

During his opening presentation, Nick White, Steering Committee Chair and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow delved into the state of funding of health research. Drawing from 2020 data from the Global Observatory on Health R&D, he highlighted a concerning statistic: only 0.2% of research grants were awarded to low-income countries by major international donors, often leading to overlooking the needs of people in those settings. This startling revelation underscored the need for a coalition like CERCLE, that promotes a global research response that prioritizes the needs of people in low-resource settings and facilitates research led by researchers based in these settings.

Reflecting on the past and defining the next steps

The first day of the meeting included discussions on crafting the Coalition’s new identity, reflecting on the lessons learned from the past years, and outlining the upcoming priority areas. All participants agreed that CERCLE’s core activities should focus on i) generating science, ii) advocacy, iii) capacity strengthening, iv) fundraising for working group projects, and v) engaging with members to foster collaborations.

There was collective enthusiasm for CERCLE to be the ‘go-to-place’ for researchers facing technical, scientific, regulatory, obstacles in conducting their research, or seeking advice and collaborations for their next project proposal. Moreover, the participants identified the crucial need to support funders identify research projects of societal value. CERCLE will serve as a platform that aids these decision-makers align funding priorities with impactful research.

Leveraging the power of CERCLE’s unique membership

The presentations on the second day of the meeting focused on the different working groups, their achievements, objectives and ways to help them overcome various challenges. It was decided that the working groups will play a key role in defining the scientific priorities.

The discussions also included reflections on the evolution of the Coalition’s membership. From the original 77 members, today, CERCLE is a community of more than 900 individuals and institutions, with a significant representation of researchers from low- and middle-income countries. Participants explored innovative ways to harness the collective strength of this unique, non-aligned and multidisciplinary community to champion transformations in the research landscape.

Launch of CERCLE

The transition to CERCLE is already underway and the official launch will take place in August. Please reach out to the Secretariat if you have any questions about CERCLE or the transition.

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