Building cross-border collaborations to increase diversity and accelerate rare disease drug development – meeting report from the inaugural IndoUSrare Annual Conference 2021

Harvinder Kour Khera, Nisha Venugopal, Ramya T. Karur, Rakesh Mishra, Reena V. Kartha, Harsha K. Rajasimha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The inaugural IndoUSrare Annual Conference was held virtually from 29 November to 2 December 2021 and was organized by the Indo US Organization for Rare Diseases (IndoUSrare). The event saw participation from over 250 stakeholders of rare diseases who joined in virtually by audio/video on the Zoom platform from around the world, with a majority of attendees concentrated in the Indian subcontinent and the United States. The conference was held over 4 days from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time on each day, which accommodated participation by speakers and attendees from both the eastern and western hemispheres. The agenda over 4 days holistically covered broad topics of interest to different stakeholder groups such as representatives from organizations working toward policy frameworks for rare diseases or orphan drugs (Days 1, 4), biomedical research institutions (Day 2), patient advocacy organizations (Day 3), and patient advocacy and engagement offices within Industry (Day 4). In this meeting report, we summarize the key highlights from each day of this conference, with a perspective on future directions encouraging cross-border multistakeholder collaborations to maximize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in rare disease diagnosis, research, clinical trials, and treatment access. Each day included a keynote lecture on the theme of the day followed by a series of individual speaker presentations and/or a panel discussion. The goal was to understand current barriers and bottlenecks in the rare disease ecosystem. The discussions also helped highlight gaps and identify potential solutions that can be achieved through building multistakeholder collaborations across international borders, which we believe IndoUSrare is uniquely positioned to do with organizational programs such as rare patient foundation alliance, technology-enabled patient concierge, research corps, and corporate alliance program. The inaugural conference of the then 2+-year-old IndoUSrare organization laid the foundation for ongoing engagement of stakeholders between the two countries – the United States and India. The long-term goal is to scale the conference more broadly and serve as a model for other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Plain language summary: IndoUSrare held its inaugural Annual Conference from 29 November to 2 December 2021. It was focused on the theme of cross-border collaborations for rare disease drug development, with each day dedicated to a specific patient-focused discussion topic, ranging from patient-led advocacy (Advocacy Day), research (Research Day), rare disease community support and engagement (Patients Alliance Day), to industry collaborations (Industry Day). The 4-day conference was held in virtual mode and attracted over 250 attendees from across the globe. This meeting report provides the key highlights of the event and summarizes learnings and future directions encouraging cross-border collaborations to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in rare disease research and clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Rare Disease
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022.


  • DEI
  • clinical trials
  • collaborations
  • diversity
  • meeting report
  • orphan drugs
  • patient advocacy
  • patient engagement

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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