Gates Foundation Awards $436.6M to 43 Research Projects Targeting Public Health in Developing Countries
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday awarded $436.6 million to 43 research projects addressing public health problems in developing countries, including the development of vaccines for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the AP/Tucson Citizen reports (Johnson, AP/Tucson Citizen, 6/27). The money will be directed to Grand Challenges in Global Health, a Gates-funded initiative launched in 2003 to create a competition intended to attract scientists, researchers and inventors to find solutions to global health issues (McNeil, New York Times, 6/28). The grant recipients each will receive up to $20 million over five years -- with $436.6 million coming from the Gates Foundation, $27 million from the Wellcome Trust and $4.5 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Sternberg, USA Today, 6/28). The grants will be administered by the three funding organizations, as well as the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (AP/Tucson Citizen, 6/27). The grant agreements allow scientists to patent their inventions, but they must guarantee that the resulting products will be made available at a low price or at no cost in developing countries. Funding also can be cut off if periodic goals are not met (New York Times, 6/28).
The 43 projects were chosen from more than 1,000 proposals received from scientists around the world, London's Guardian reports. They include research into ways to improve vaccines so that refrigeration, needles and multiple doses are not needed; developing ways to prevent insects from transmitting diseases such as malaria; discovering ways to treat latent infections, such as TB; and developing ways to fight drug-resistant bacteria. For example, a team from St. George's-University of London in London is developing an HIV vaccine for women that aims to stimulate an immune system response to the virus in the vaginal lining. A team from University of Oxford received $10 million to conduct research into stimulating the immune system in ways that could lead to vaccines for HIV, TB and malaria (Boseley, Guardian, 6/28). In addition, two researchers from the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute received a total of $32.5 million to continue their efforts to find an effective malaria vaccine (Paulson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/28). "It's shocking how little research is directed toward the diseases of the world's poorest countries," Bill Gates said in a statement, adding, "By harnessing the world's capacity for scientific innovation, I believe we can transform health in the developing world and save millions of lives" (Fox, Reuters, 6/27).