On the 17th of September 2013, the Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) was launched at the 18th International Leprosy Congress in Brussels. The initiative sprung from years of declining available funds for leprosy research and fragmented funding opportunities. Currently, the organisation marks a decade of active operation, having provided funding for over 80 projects in more than 20 countries and organising activities to strengthen research capacity. These projects have received a total allocation of over €10 million, all of which bolster our overarching aim: a world free from leprosy. To get a glimpse of our major achievements over the years, take a moment to watch this short video.
As we reflect upon this decade-long journey of the initiative, we wish to celebrate this remarkable occasion alongside our partners, committee members, researchers, and the wider leprosy community. What reflections do they have regarding LRI's decade-long journey?
We asked, and the feedback is here. Read their celebratory statements below.
"It has been a decade ago since Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) was launched during the 18th International Leprosy Congress in Brussels which I personally attended. Since then, I witnessed how LRI reached significant milestones in leprosy research. Most importantly, LRI succeeded in supporting and honing scientific minds through its building & strengthening research capacity programs which paved way for researchers to collectively contribute towards improving global leprosy, positively transforming the lives of many. Because of LRI, I feel that leprosy has never been and will never be a neglected tropical disease. Congratulations LRI on your 10th year story of success!"
Dr Marivic Balagon - Philippines
principal investigator of LRI project 705.17.07
"LRI has been an incredibly important partner in difficult times for Brazilian science, as a consequence of the almost disappearance of funding for research and an apparent disregard of the importance of scientific production. The open attitude of the LRI community towards supporting high-risk, innovative research in leprosy has been critical to keeping our lab doors open, as well as an inspiration for the future scientists we’re graduating."
"In the past, I was inclined to developing research and interventions from the viewpoint of my expertise. Thanks to the research capacity strengthening opportunity from the LRI, that is helping me to shift from this perspective. I am now beginning to understand the problems from the perspective of those who are directly affected and will benefit from the interventions. My focus now is on collaborative research and healthcare interventions, considering this is the most realistic way of addressing our growing healthcare needs and the most promising way towards achieving Zero leprosy and NTDs Road Map in Nigeria (or LMICs)."
Dr Suleiman Hudu Abdullahi - Nigeria
principal investigator of LRI project FP23_CS\5
CEOs of LRI Full Partners:
"My respect to the smart minds in the labs, at the desks, and in the field! Your work supports the end of leprosy."
"It is my pleasure to pay tribute to LRI for its many fine achievements over the last ten years. Three things of note stand out for me: Firstly, I believe the LRI has helped galvanise research and bring researchers closer together within the global leprosy community. A second achievement has been the capacity building workshops which has helped better equip researchers working in leprosy. Thirdly, extending calls for proposals from new researchers has given this group a great opportunity to gain valuable experience. I wish everyone associated with the LRI my warm congratulations on reaching this important milestone."
International Director, The Leprosy Mission International
"As founding members of the LRI, we are proud to have played a key role in this groundbreaking partnership that has provided 10 million euros in funding to 80 projects across 20 countries in the past ten years. By leveraging resources and international expertise, LRI has made significant progress in much-needed clinical, operational and practical research. This will break barriers to health and renew hope for the millions of people affected by leprosy around the world."
President and CEO, American Leprosy Missions
"For German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association (DAHW), research in the field of leprosy plays an important role. The provision of multi-drug therapy in the 1980s, the subsequent work with post-exposure prophylaxis and the current progress in vaccine development show: It is only with integration of science that this disease can be meaningfully and sustainably contained. Networks help in facilitating mutual support and enriching exchange. We, as DAHW, therefore congratulate the LRI on its 10th anniversary and look forward to a continued good cooperation. DAHW as co-founder of the initiative thinks: This was a good decision."
Chairman of DAHW (German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association)
"Congratulations on behalf of the Anesvad Foundation team on 10 successful years dedicated to improving funding opportunities for global leprosy research. Increasing evidences are a crucial part of meeting the challenge of this disease. Good practice, perseverance and a collaborative spirit are, in our opinion, the hallmarks of the LRI family in order to achieve a more dignified life for people affected by leprosy and skin NTDs.
For the Right to Health and for a world without leprosy and skin NTDs!
Happy 10th Anniversary and best wishes and courage for the next 10 years!"
General Manager, Anesvad Foundation
LRI committee members:
"LRI is an excellent example of accomplishments made possible by collaboration. Within leprosy research funding efforts, this consortium has offered a novel approach: to pool the efforts and resources from several NGO’s that have long been major individual supporters of leprosy research.
A major advantage for applicants is that the competition for funding is open to all comers, on virtually all topics related to leprosy research, anywhere in the world. LRI’s organizational structure and leadership provide the framework for a rigorous and robust review of applications.
The results of the first 10 years’ work have given donors strong evidence that their funds are used well. The annual Spring meeting, during which grantees report on their progress, is widely recognized as the best annual exchange of research ideas in leprosy.
LRI undoubtedly has a major role to play in current and future efforts to promote and align funding for leprosy research."
Dr David Scollard
Chair of LRI Steering Committee
"One never ceases to learn – this is especially true for neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy. In the case of leprosy in particular, new findings constantly emerge, changing the way we deal with the "world's oldest disease”. For example, we are currently exploring optimal methods for raising awareness about leprosy and for active case-finding in communities. Furthermore, we are investigating the extent to which drug-resistance is already appearing against the leprosy medication. Also, we are researching the impact of leprosy disease on mental health.
Through its support, LRI makes an important contribution to the continued scientific study of a disease that we have already been able to significantly curb in the same manner. We are confident that in the future these efforts will continue to succeed."
Dr Christa Kasang
Research Coordinator of DAHW
Member of LRI Steering Committee
"The LRI helps maintain an ongoing research enterprise in leprosy that is essential for bridging our current gaps in knowledge, fostering innovative solutions, and developing new leaders who will take on the challenges of the future."
Dr Richard Truman
Chair of LRI Scientific Review Committee
"For me highlights for LRI were:
The uncertainty how the first call for Letters of Intent would be received and then the, for me unexpected, great response from all continents, and especially from leprosy endemic countries.
To establish the Spring Meeting. And to participate in this meeting where the whole spectrum of supported research projects is presented, and which is the place where participants from all over the world meet."
Prof. William Faber
Former Chair of LRI Scientific Review Committee
"The success of LRI over the past decade is a great example of effective collaboration in action. The research grants, the forums enabling researchers to engage directly with one another, and the focused research workshops have all worked together to strengthen, support and encourage scientists and practitioners engaging in leprosy research."
ILEP (International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations) CEO
"The partnership that EDCTP and LRI embarked on in 2017 was put in place to leverage resources and pool funds to support clinical and implementation research on leprosy in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this partnership we were able to provide support for two leprosy projects researching the use of post-exposure prophylaxis in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Not only do these projects provide scientific evidence to this important research topic for the leprosy community, they also strengthened the capacity of researchers and their institutes. EDCTP congratulates LRI with their 10th anniversary."
Dr Michelle Helinski
Senior Project Officer EDCTP (European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership)
"LRI has been a fantastic stimulus to research in leprosy, bringing people together from all over the world and promoting a very good balance between all the different aspects of leprosy that can be studied. It's been a great pleasure to have been involved in various ways!"
Dr Paul Saunderson
Senior Technical Advisor American Leprosy Missions
Editor-in-Chief Leprosy Review
"LRI has greatly expanded interest in and support for much needed leprosy-related research."
Dr Judith Justice
University of California San Francisco
"LRI has encouraged researchers and field workers in endemic countries to investigate many different aspects of leprosy."
Dr Richard De Soldenhoff
Former NLR Medical Officer