The Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) performs several tasks to promote both public health and a healthy and safe living environment. The principal task of RIVM is to collect knowledge worldwide and conduct research. The results are used to support the Dutch government in formulating its policy. RIVM has a public function and works on issues with political and societal relevance on behalf of government bodies. The institute is responsible for providing impartial and reliable information to members of the public and professionals who work in the fields of health care, infectious diseases, medicines, the environment, nutrition and safety.
In its current 5-year plan (2015-2020), RIVM has designated 'Alternatives to Animal Testing' and 'Effectivity of the Immune Response' as two of its fields of expertise. RIVM is responsible for vaccine safety and efficacy testing (Official Medicines Control Laboratories , OMCL) and test regulation guidelines (WHO, European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM)). Moreover, RIVM is responsible for the Dutch National Vaccination Program.
Role of RIVM in the VAC2VAC project
The role of RIVM in VAC2VAC can be seen from different perspectives. Firstly, the Dutch government has designated RIVM as national contact point for the 3Rs (Replacement, reduction, refinement of animal testing) in regulatory testing. The VAC2VAC project is an important opportunity for RIVM to take this role in the field of vaccine batch release testing. Secondly, the Dutch OMCL is part of RIVM, and RIVM employees are members of the European Pharmacopoeia group 15, the Official Control Authority Batch Release (OCABR) drafting group, and relevant WHO and EDQM groups. This situation makes RIVM well suited to participate in the VAC2VAC work related to drafting criteria for method development, (pre-) validation studies, (pre-) validation methods and for providing guidance on implementation strategies. Thirdly, RIVM is responsible for the Dutch National Vaccination Program and has therefore a long tradition in research on vaccine-induced immune responses, supported by bioinformatics. This makes RIVM well equipped to perform cell-based assays and provide bioinformatics support.
Rob Vandebriel is a board-certified immunologist. He has been working on vaccine-induced immune responses and the effects of chemicals and drugs on the immune system in national and EU projects.
Martijn Bruysters is a biologist, whose main responsibility is Official Control Authority Batch Release (OCABR) for human vaccines on behalf of the Netherlands. He is member of the OCABR Drafting Group, preparing guidelines for European batch release.
Jeroen Pennings is a bioinformatician with major expertise in analysing -omics responses to chemicals, drugs, and disease, obtained from national and international projects.
Arnoud Akkermans has major experience in alternatives to quality control for vaccine testing. He has been involved in OMCL batch release and chemical pharmaceutical assessment. He is member of Group 15 (Human sera and Vaccines) of the European Pharmacopeia.