Researchers with the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative (NGDI) at the University of British Columbia have attracted more than $20 million in funding to find ways to eliminate diseases and conditions that kill millions of people in developing countries worldwide.
Launched in 2009, the NGDI brings together top UBC researchers to study and develop treatment for infectious diseases of poverty, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Their work includes basic understanding of these diseases, vaccine and drug development, health care infrastructure and food security.
“As a whole, neglected global diseases affect one billion people worldwide and approximately 8.7 million die from them each year,” says Kishor Wasan, NGDI director and a professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “But compared to other diseases such as diabetes or heart disease they receive relatively little research funding.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($7M), the Canadian International Development Agency ($6.8M in conjunction with the International Development Research Centre and the National Research Council of Canada) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research ($6.6M) make up the bulk of neglected global diseases research funding at UBC.
In 2010, global investment in research and development in the area of neglected global diseases totaled just over $3 billion, more than half of it towards HIV and TB and $547M towards malaria.
Twelve funders provide almost 90 per cent of this overall investment, with the U.S. National Institutes of Health as the top funder at $1.2 billion, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies at $503 million and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at $455 million.
Funded projects at UBC include $7 million from the Bill & Melinda Foundation towards research on pre-eclampsia, a high blood pressure disorder that is the second leading cause of maternal death worldwide; $4.9 million towards nutrition related studies and $4.6 million towards the treatment and prevention of HIV/ADIS and tuberculosis.