We are writing this with a slight feeling of déjà vu. After regular office days in the summer and fall, we returned to full home office mode in November due to rising numbers of COVID-19 infections in Germany. This situation is similar to that of last December when we wrote our 2020 round-up article.
At the same time, a lot has changed over the past 12 months: LINQ turned five in September, we have grown further in headcount and evolved our structures accordingly. All our projects have revised workplans that reflect the new pandemic reality, and several of our new initiatives focus on COVID specifically. We have adapted to the new fully virtual way of working together across the globe, using existing tools and developing our own. And with Horizon Europe, the new European Framework Programme has now started, providing ample opportunity to plan new research initiatives for the seven years to come.
In 2021, our portfolio has grown again and become even more diverse.
We were delighted to expand our collaboration with FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, by joining their TB-CAPT consortium. TB-CAPT consists of a series of clinical trials in Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa to evaluate promising new TB diagnostic technologies in settings of intended use.
Evolving the collaboration further, LINQ has been managing a large multi-project COVID-19 grant for FIND since June. It has also been our pleasure to support the setup and further development of FIND’s new Project Management Office.
The latest addition to the LINQ project portfolio has started in September: Core-NB has received funding through the EDCTP’s “Emergency Funding Mechanism,” which allows rapid mobilisation of research funding in exceptional emergencies. The project is led by our longstanding friends at the Research Center Borstel and studies how TB and HIV influence the COVID-19 trajectory in Botswana and Namibia.
Evolving team and structures
We have not only taken on new projects in 2021 but have also been able to grow our team by three senior professionals. Their years of experience in various fields of project management and their complementary expertise perfectly prepare us for the new tasks ahead.
We refined our internal structures and workflows accordingly so that we’re now ready to start into the new year with a team of ten.
The two past years have truly demonstrated that geographical proximity is not a prerequisite for strong and evolving partnerships and friendships. In 2021, not a single project meeting could be held in person, and we miss our collaborators dearly. Nevertheless, exploring new tools to facilitate virtual collaboration and adding the best ones to our standard toolbox has been exciting and fun, and enabled us to create a strong collaboration with existing and new partners alike. We received a wonderful confirmation of this when the AE-TBC consortium was awarded the Outstanding Research Team Prize at the EDCTP Forum 2021 in October this year. It has been our great pleasure to work with this group on their journey through three successive projects, AE-TBC, Screen-TB, and now TriageTB. We would like to express our gratitude to the funder for the support received throughout the years.
Looking forward to 2022
As this year comes to an end, we are now turning our focus towards 2022.
Our COVID actions were designed to deliver quickly, and several of our other projects are also entering advanced stages. 2022 will therefore be a year of results and exciting steps towards impact. The whole team is looking forward to apply experiences gained in the first health calls of Horizon Europe to the next rounds of proposals. We are also eagerly awaiting the publication of the first calls in EDCTP3, the successor to the EDCTP2 Programme.
Before we roll up our sleeves again though to embark on new adventures with our partners, we wish everyone a relaxing Christmas break, and a great start into a healthy and happy new year.
From all of us to all of you: Happy Holidays!