View over Karolinska Institute
Photo: Henrik Trygg

IVI and Karolinska Institute pilot hybrid vaccinology course

The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) has teamed up with Stockholm's Karolinska Institute (KI) to refashion the format of its long-running International Vaccinology Course.

For the first time since its launch in 2000, the course will take place concurrently at two venues in two different countries. A live broadcast will connect attendees at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and IVI's headquarters in Seoul, facilitating real-time interaction and problem-solving despite the 7,500km distance.

"The idea is to have the two sites interact, with different scientists from different regions," says the IVI's Dr Anh Wartel. "The participants attending the course at KI will have the chance to interact on-site with the KI faculty members and international speakers and virtually with the scientists and participants in Seoul."

The ambition is to foster collaborative relationships between young and seasoned scientists from across the globe. Additionally, the Stockholm venue makes it possible for some of the world's top vaccinologists, who may otherwise have not been able to make the journey to South Korea, to partake in the rigorous five-day course.

Collaborating in a post-pandemic world

The new format is an evolution of 2021's purely digital program - a by-product of the COVID-19 pandemic - which attracted over 7,000 registrations and an average of 3,000 participants per day. As the world opens up again, IVI will build on its learnings from last year's course to pilot the innovative hybrid format.

The vaccinology course, the longest-running in the Asia-Pacific region, is dedicated to building vaccine capacity in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and has trained approximately 3000 vaccine professionals to date.

“The line will be open between the two sites for the 20 young scientists in Stockholm to attend the presentations simultaneously with 200 participants including the course fellows and IVI staff in Seoul,” says Dr. Wartel. “We want to connect the scientists on-site and between the sites and cross-fertilize the knowledge leading to potential collaborative research projects.”

Creating global impact, together

KI, one of the world’s leading research-led medical universities, shares IVI’s mission to promote vaccine sustainability in LMICs. This mutual objective was integral to IVI's decision to establish a regional office in Stockholm earlier this year, its first outside its headquarters in South Korea.

The ongoing partnership with KI has influenced the format of this year's course content, speaker choices, and the theme of Breakthroughs in Vaccine Science and Technology, says Dr Wartel.

"We want to leverage our first collaboration with KI and also have scientists from KI speak on the course. We have been interacting with KI scientists and faculty members for many months. Having them support the course is a great value for us."

It's one of the many ways IVI's new regional office in Stockholm has already sparked innovation, adds Dr Catharina Maijgren Steffensson, who sits on IVI's board of trustees. "The office here has allowed us to explore new pathways and meet new researchers. KI has excellent researchers, and IVI may not have otherwise had the opportunity to work this closely with them."

Ylva Hultman, Business Development Manager Life Science at Invest Stockholm, believes this collaboration is only the start of great things to come from IVI and Stockholm. “Stockholm is a renowned breeding ground for impactful solutions, and IVI has already proven a valuable addition to the region’s vibrant life science scene. The new hybrid format of the 21st International Vaccinology Course is just one excellent example of what’s possible when we combine our strengths and work together.”