Life science researchers at Stanford University are getting a booster shot from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has pledged to give $50 million over the next 10 years to establish the Stanford Human Systems Immunology Center on the school's California campus.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was set up by Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, and wife Melinda. Through gifts like these, the foundation helps to fund research, develop infrastructure, and to fight disease and poverty around the world.
This $50 million grant will build on existing technology at the University’s Human Immune Monitoring Core to accelerate vaccine development efforts for the world's most deadly diseases, including AIDS and malaria.
The announcement on Jan. 29 named Mark Davis, director of the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection as the head of the new center. There he will continue studying the human immune system alongside colleagues Holden Maecker, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Human Immune Monitoring Center, as well as researchers in the fields of pediatrics and genetics.
According to a university press release,
“The Stanford Human Systems Immunology Center will draw upon a repertoire of technologies, many of which have been pioneered at Stanford, to provide a detailed profile of the human immune response. Seed grants will be made available to Stanford faculty, as well as investigators from other institutions, in order to fuel innovations in immunology and vaccine-related efforts.”
Immunology research at Stanford has been focused on understanding how the human immune system operates in order to accelerate the development of vaccines for the most deadly infectious diseases. Davis said that his research team would use the funding to learn more about the immune system and the best ways for vaccines to capitalize on the body's natural ability to fight off viruses.
The researchers will also study why certain individuals can fight pathogens more successfully than others. For example, millions of people carry the tuberculosis bacteria, but fewer than 10% actually develop the disease. Davis said, "What we need is a new generation of vaccines and new approaches to vaccination. This will require a better understanding of the human immune response and clearer predictions about vaccine efficacy for particular diseases".
The University stated that high costs and time were major factors in the slow development of vaccine research, but that the $50 million would. But now, the $50 million gift would allow researchers from Stanford and other institutions to accelerate their work in immunology and vaccines, get more grants, and help incentivize researchers to prioritize vaccines for clinical trials.
“We hope our work will have a profound effect on our ability to combat diseases of the developing world,” said Davis, who is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
In addition to this incredibly generous gift from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, life science researchers at California institutions receive millions in annual funding dollars for life-saving research.
Life science researchers and lab vendors can now network with peers and industry professionals while learning about the latest technologies by attending the Biotechnology Product Faire Events in 2015. These popular events occur at universities and research institutions across the nation, and are a great marketplace for new ideas and biotechnology.
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Image courtesy of Brian Hoskins, zeathiel