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ASU researcher receives $14.8 million Gates grant for pneumonia vaccine

Summary:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded an Arizona State University researcher a $14.8 million grant for his work on a pediatric pneumonia vaccine. Roy Curtiss, who joined the Biodesign Institute at ASU last year, won one of 43 grants given by in the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. The foundation awarded a total of $436.6 million in this grant round.

Full Story:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded an Arizona State University researcher a $14.8 million grant for his work on a pediatric pneumonia vaccine. Roy Curtiss, who joined the Biodesign Institute at ASU last year, won one of 43 grants given by in the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. The foundation awarded a total of $436.6 million in this grant round.

The grant represents the Seattle-based foundation's first grant to an Arizona researcher or institution, and the third largest to a researcher in ASU's history, according to the Arizona Republic.

Curtiss, co-director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at the Biodesign Institute, left Washington University, St. Louis to join ASU after a big recruiting push and the construction of $3.8 million research lab.

Pneumonia, caused by about 100 different bacterial strains, kills 3 million people each year, 95 percent of them in the developing world. Curtiss' vaccine fits the Gates model nicely because it would significantly reduce the complication and cost of current pneumonia vaccination practices, which cost nearly $40 per dose to produce and require a series of four injections.

Curtiss' oral vaccine uses a weakened live strain of the salmonella virus and would cost only about $1 to produce. It is slated for clinical trials in the U.S. within two years, and Korea in three. If the vaccine proves effective and safe, it could be available to children in developing countries within 10 years.

Curtiss' research team will work on the pneumonia vaccine with researchers at the University of Alabama, Duke University, and Tufts, as well as institutions in Australia and Korea.

In 2003 the Gates Foundation launched the $450 million Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative to help solve the 14 most severe public health problems in the developing world with innovative and cost-effective health care technologies. The project recently garnered additional support from the Canadian Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust.

"Scientific advances are of little value unless they are accessible to the people who need them," Dr. Richard Klausner, executive director of Global Health and a member of the Grand Challenges scientific board said in a news release. "Grand Challenges researchers will pursue affordable and practical health solutions that have access built in from the very start."


For more information:

"Grant to target childhood pneumonia," Arizona Republic, 06/28/2005

"ASU health researcher gets $14.8 mil Gates grant," Arizona Republic, 06/28/2005

ASU news release

Vaccinologist follows inner compass to right place at right time, 11/30/2004

Grand Challenges in Global Health

Gates Foundation