€ 28 million European subsidy for PERISCOPE project


New Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) 2 project on the trail of next generation vaccines against pertussis (whooping cough)

The international PERISCOPE project has been granted a € 28 million European subsidy - of which € 7 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-  in order to better map the immune response to pertussis infection and vaccination.

Although current vaccines against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, provide proper and safe protection against serious illness in the short term, they do not prevent infections with the pertussis bacterium in the long term. In order to guarantee proper protection, more knowledge about the effects of the current vaccines is required. The project is to result in new research models and methods of analysis, which will clear the path to the development of improved vaccination strategies against pertussis.

Despite the availability of effective prophylactic vaccines against pertussis, there has been a rise in the incidence of pertussis, with epidemics in Europe, Australia and the US in the last decade. As well as being a particular problem in vulnerable infants, with devastating consequences in developing countries, the incidence of pertussis is also increasing in adolescents and adults, particularly in industrialized countries. Hence, pertussis continues to be a major public health concern worldwide.

The pan-European initiative PERISCOPE sets out to accelerate improvement of prophylactic vaccines and vaccination strategies for pertussis. The project is funded with a total budget of €28mio over the next five years by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Additionally, PERISCOPE is the first IMI project to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Given the resurgence and changing epidemiology of pertussis in industrialized countries and the persistent low level of vaccination coverage and high infant mortality caused by pertussis in low income countries, PERISCOPE represents a concerted effort aiming to accelerate the development of improved vaccination strategies that ensure solid, long-lasting protection against infection”, says Prof. Ronald de Groot from Radboud University Medical Center and coordinator of PERISCOPE.

“This implies, first and foremost, that we need to gain a better understanding of the pathogenesis and underlying mechanisms of the infection to be able to identify novel vaccine candidates. However, it is equally important to rebuild the ecosystem for pertussis research and the technical infrastructure needed in Europe to successfully evaluate those novel candidates”.

PERISCOPE will focus on three major areas: 1) Setting up a comprehensive clinical research programme to study the immune response of individuals of all ages to pertussis infection and vaccination; 2) the establishment of parallel clinical and pre-clinical models of pertussis infection, and 3) the development of a comprehensive battery of state-of-the-art bioassays, to help reveal  the markers of an effective and long-lasting immune response to pertussis infection in both clinical and preclinical study subjects. PERISCOPE will also seek to study immunization in pregnancy to gain a better understanding of the impact of maternal antibodies on the infant’s immune responses to pertussis. 

PERISCOPE assembles a multi-national team of leading experts from 22 partnering institutions with long-standing experience in pertussis research, clinical trials, bioinformatics, immunology and public health. The consortium also includes Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline, two of the world’s largest and most experienced vaccine manufacturers, as industrial partners. 

Partners in PERISCOPE:


  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Q-Biologicals NV
  • Université libre de Bruxelles

Czech Republic

  • Mikrobiologicky USTAV - AVCR, V.V.I.


  • Turun Yliopisto


  • Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux energies alternatives
  • Institut Pasteur de Lille Fondation
  • Sanofi Pasteur SA

The Gambia

  • Medical Research Council


  • Eurice GmbH


  • Trinity College Dublin


  • Leids Universiteir Medisch Centrum
  • Radboud university medical center
  • Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu part of the Dutch State


  • Universidad de Salamanca


  • Universität Basel
  • Hospices Cantonaux CHUV


  • The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford
  • Department of Health (Public Health England)
  • Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine
  • University of Bath
  • University of Southampton

 Project details

Name: PERISCOPE – PERtussIS COrrelates of Protection Europe
Start date: 2016-03-01
Duration: 60 months
Budget: €28mio
Coordination:Radboud university medical center 


Coordinator                                                                        Project Management

Radboud university medical center                               Eurice - European Research and Project Office GmbH

Prof. Ronald de Groot                                                       Dr Claudia Schacht                              

EFPIA Coordinator

Sanofi Pasteur

Dr Patricia Londoño-Hayes 




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