New strategy for Statens Serum Institut (SSI)

Statens Serum Institut’s new mission statement reads:
”We aim to reinforce health through disease control and research”, with a focus on infectious disease preparedness, biobanking and biomarkers, and research.

Growing worldwide antibiotic resistance, increased mobility of people, animals and food among countries, and climate changes causing increased incidence of e.g. malaria and dengue fever. These are only some of the factors that demand a strong programme of infectious disease preparedness to prevent, investigate and control disease outbreaks. In Denmark, Statens Serum Institut is responsible for infectious disease preparedness.

Infectious Disease Preparedness constitutes one of three health priority areas on which SSI’s organisation will now be based.  Infectious Disease Preparedness will bring together laboratory and epidemiological expertise and include e.g. surveillance of infectious diseases, special diagnostics, vaccine supply, pandemic preparedness, and national biosecurity and biopreparedness.

”In a world with increasing cross-border mobility of people, food and microorganisms, the expertise and competencies of Statens Serum Institut are more important than ever. Through infectious disease surveillance, special diagnostics and international collaborations, we provide infectious disease preparedness and counseling to the Danish healthcare system and authorities that is of crucial importance to the health of the Danish population,” says President, CEO Mads Melbye.

The three health priority areas at SSI are:

• Infectious Disease Preparedness
• Danish National Biobank & Biomarkers
• Research

Research in new diagnostic methods and treatments

Life expectancy in Denmark is increasing and the prevalence of chronic diseases, lifestyle diseases and cancer is rising. The prevention of infections is important in the treatment of these diseases, as patients’ immune systems are often weakened.

Presiden, CEO Mads Melbye

"The restructuring provides an excellent opportunity to reform SSI’s mission and strategy to reflect a leaner SSI and ensure that we remain at the forefront of new disease challenges”, says Mads Melbye.

Furthermore, new diagnostic methods and treatments are needed. The development of both is among the most important tasks of the health priority area Danish National Biobank & Biomarkers.

”Research into, and detection of, new disease markers will help us ensure more targeted treatment of these diseases. This is called personalized medicine and is one of the goals we strive for – both in our own research and in the operation and expansion of the Danish National Biobank, which is a resource available to all researchers,” says Mads Melbye.

Top-level international research

All of SSI’s activities are based on research. SSI provides counseling  based on research. Data and new knowledge are gathered and produced in all priority areas, communicated to the outside world by SSI employees and published in scientific journals.

Each year, SSI’s researchers publish approximately 400 scientific articles.

Research therefore constitutes a cornerstone and prerequisite for both the Infectious Disease Preparedness and Danish National Biobank & Biomarkers areas. Moreover, SSI houses two additional world-class research environments. One is Epidemiology Research, where scientists investigate e.g. disease etiology and risk factors for disease using the unique Danish health registers and biobanks. The other is Vaccine Research, where scientists investigate the effects of vaccines and develop new vaccines against e.g. tuberculosis and chlamydia.

”Top-level international research is a requirement for SSI to contribute to solving the challenges that face Denmark and the international community now and in the future. Therefore SSI must remain one of the country’s largest and most important health science research institutions.”, says Mads Melbye.

Divestment and restructuring

Over the past 1½ years, the staff at Statens Serum Institut has been reduced from 1,400 to approximately 700 employees. This reduction is due to SSI’s divestment of its two produc-tion facilities, SSI Diagnostics and its national vaccine production, as well as to the restructuring of the Danish Ministry of Health, including the establishment of the Danish Health Data Authority.

”The separation of these three areas does not alter SSI’s 100-year-old primary duty, namely the control  of infectious, hereditary and autoimmune diseases. Also, SSI remains responsible for the purchase and supply of vaccines to the Danish national vaccination programmes. But the restructuring provides an excellent opportunity to reform SSI’s mission and strategy to reflect a leaner SSI and ensure that we remain at the forefront of new disease challenges ”, says Mads Melbye.

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