New York Times Reports On Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges In Global Health Grant Program

The New York Times examines the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health program, which gave a total of $450 million to 43 research projects over five years. “On drawing attention to ways that lives might be saved through scientific advances, I’d give us an A,” Bill Gates, co-founder of the foundation, said of the program in an interview with the newspaper. “But I thought some would be saving lives by now, and it’ll be more like in 10 years from now,” Gates said.

Some scientists at a recent conference on the program “noted that Mr. Gates comes from the software industry, where computing power constantly doubles. Biology, by comparison, moves glacially – and microbes are less cooperative than electrons,” according to the New York Times. Improved ethical standards have increased the cost and the amount of time it takes to conduct clinical trials, the newspaper writes. “Also, poor countries lacking regulatory authorities and highly educated political and scientific elites may be nervous about being misused by Western scientists and careful about accepting new technologies,” according to the article.

“Despite discoveries on many fronts, up to two-thirds of the grants either did not get renewed or may not in the near future, Mr. Gates estimated. In some cases, it was because they were not succeeding, either scientifically or because of political obstacles, or someone else had found a better path. In others, the foundation changed the goal,” the New York Times writes. The article includes descriptions of some grant recipients and reports on the status of their research and whether they will continue to receive funding from the Gates Foundation (McNeil, 12/20).