Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre shines a light on Rare Disease Day

March 12, 2024

Magdalen College Chapel on Rare Disease Day 2024
Magdalen College Chapel

On the 29th of February, International Rare Disease Day, the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre (OHC) joined hundreds of organisations across the world in raising awareness about rare diseases. 

Illuminating Rare Disease Day across Oxford and Cleveland

On the evening of the 29th, the OHC illuminated the Magdalen College chapel at University of Oxford with Rare Disease Day lights to raise awareness for those living with rare disease and the global unmet need for therapies.

As a prominent Oxford landmark, Magdalen College chapel was illuminated in the official Rare Disease Day colours — blue, green, pink, and purple to bring urgent attention to the enormous challenge faced by the rare disease community. 

Magdalen College Chapel

In the UK alone, there are 3.5 million people living with a rare condition, while over 400 million people are affected globally. As 70% of these rare diseases begin in childhood, children are disproportionately impacted, with a third of affected children dying before their fifth birthday. 

To tackle the challenge of delivering innovative therapeutics, the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre was formed as a partnership between the University of Oxford and Harrington Discovery Institute based at University Hospitals, Cleveland, Ohio. 

The Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre thus combines world-leading strengths in research at Oxford and therapeutics development excellence at Harrington Discovery Institute. The mission of the OHC is to address the unmet need in rare disease across the globe by delivering 40 drugs into clinical trials in the next 10 years.

Terminal Tower, a landmark skyscraper in Cleveland, was also illuminated as a part of the Rare Disease Day campaign. 

Rare Disease Day Webinar

In recognition of Rare Disease Day 2024, the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre brought together a distinguished panel of experts for its 4th annual Rare Disease Day Webinar on 28th of February. This year’s webinar, "Pioneering a Path to Rare Disease Therapeutics," described groundbreaking initiatives and insights aimed at addressing the unmet needs of rare diseases.

The webinar was opened by University of Oxford Professor Matthew Wood, Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre. He said:

“There has been a noticeable increase in approvals of therapies for rare disease, which is very welcome. This is driven by advances in genomics and new and innovative therapeutic approaches and this brings hope and opportunity for us.”

Jonathan Stamler, MD, President and Co-Founder of Harrington Discovery Institute, shared updates on OHC's vision and global initiatives aimed at advancing cures for rare diseases, emphasising the imperative of collaborative research and translational efforts.

Guest speakers included other prominent voices within the rare disease therapeutics development community. To find out more about the webinar, watch the webinar recording.

Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre in the Media

The Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre was also featured in a special edition of the 2024 Rare Diseases Campaign with Mediaplanet UK and Genetic Alliance UK. The edition was published as a supplement to The Guardian on the 28th of February.

The OHC feature titled ‘Pioneering pathways to rare disease therapeutics’ delved into the significance of the recently launched Oxford-Harrington Therapeutics Accelerator.

Jonathan Stamler, MD, President of Harrington Discovery Institute, said:

“This new Accelerator and extended collaboration with Oxford and Oxford Science Enterprises represents a major step forward towards finding the best medicines that improve outcomes for the millions of individuals and families affected by rare diseases.”

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