Bill Gates, the wealthiest man in the world, and his wife Melinda, have granted £370,000 to scientists at the University of Southampton to research disease investments.
The offer, from the couple’s foundation, could help save millions of lives from funding researchers to map areas around the world where investments into infectious diseases have been successful.
The data produced from the studies will be used to improve future investment decisions surrounding disease alleviation, from investigating how research funding is allocated globally to institutions in the 20 richest countries.
The impact of these various research programmes will also be analysed, to help assess whether money is going where it is needed most. Research gaps both nationally and globally will be able to be identified as a result, to help inform investment decisions.
Leader of the study, Dr Stuart Clarke, from the University of Southampton’s Faculty of Medicine, assures that the research will help in saving countless lives in some of the poorest countries in the world.
We will quantify the contribution of research funds that these infections receive compared to research involving other pathogens that are important in human health.
This will give policy makers a comprehensive picture of where there’s been a lack of funding relative to the impact of the disease and help to set global research investment priorities.
Infectious diseases, such as pneumonia and tetanus are priority areas for both the Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation.
Despite treatment and vaccines for pneumonia existing, a study carried out in 2013 estimated that each year 800,000 people die from this disease globally. The study further concluded it to be the largest killer of children below the age of five, causing more deaths that tuberculosis, malaria and HIV combined, emphasising how considerable an issue it is and the importance of investigating how funding for different diseases is allocated.
As research investments into diseases such as these are insufficiently documented and poorly tracked, there is limited awareness surrounding the impact and relevance of funding decisions. This therefore signifies the importance of the study planning to be undertaken by University of Southampton researchers, which is set to commence in October.