SEATTLE (Reuters) - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Friday it had awarded Stanford University a $50 million grant to accelerate vaccine development efforts for the world’s most deadly diseases, including AIDS and malaria.
The $50 million grant over 10 years will go toward establishing the Stanford Human Systems Immunology Center on the school’s California campus, the foundation and university said in a statement.
The center will focus research on how the immune system can be harnessed to develop vaccines for the world’s most deadly infectious diseases, the university said.
“While illnesses like polio and measles are now readily preventable, scientists have been stymied in their efforts to fight diseases such as HIV and malaria,” according to the statement.
Stanford said cost and the amount of time needed for research have been obstacles in developing new vaccinations. The $50 million gift will help scientists research and prioritize the most promising vaccines for clinical trials.
“What we need is a new generation of vaccines and new approaches to vaccination,” said Mark Davis, a professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine, who will lead the new center.
“This will require a better understanding of the human immune response and clearer predictions about vaccine efficacy for particular diseases,” he said in the statement.
The Seattle-based Gates Foundation’s grant comes as an outbreak of measles has infected more than 90 people in California and elsewhere, with most cases linked to an outbreak that public health officials suspect began when an infected person visited Disneyland.
Public health officials have urged parents to vaccinate their children against the highly contagious disease.
The outbreak also renewed focus on the anti-vaccination movement which fears potential side effects of immunizations.
The Gates Foundation was set up by Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, and wife Melinda to fight disease and poverty around the world.
Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott