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Global health grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded to the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey announced today (3rd June) that it has been awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With the grant, Professor Johnjoe McFadden will aim to revolutionise the control of tuberculosis by modifying the vaccine and designing a new test for the human form of the disease.

The current skin test used to detect presence of the disease is usually unhelpful since it gives a positive result regardless of whether the person is infected or has received the vaccine. Instead, an expensive chest X-ray is required to diagnose the infection, which is unsustainable in developing countries where the disease is most common. Scientists are now looking to modify the existing BCG vaccination, so that the skin test only gives a positive result when someone has the infection.

"Tuberculosis is curable and preventable, yet it remains one the world's most deadly infectious diseases," said Professor Johnjoe McFadden from the University of Surrey.

"Utilising our expertise at the University of Surrey, we hope to design an affordable test which will help to combat this condition. I am delighted that this project was selected to receive a Grand Challenges Explorations grant which will allow us to investigate the feasibility of this approach to help control human tuberculosis."

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Professor McFaddden's project is one of over 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Professor McFadden and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, behaviour change and looking into animal and human health. Applications for the next Round will be accepted starting September 2014.


Contact: Peter La
University of Surrey

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