Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine receives $50.7 million from Gates Foundation for malaria research

Press release 30 Oct 2005

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has received a $50.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for new research into malaria. The grant will put the School at the forefront of the global fight to defeat malaria which kills 2,000 African children every day.

The funding is one of three grants, totalling $258.3 million, announced by the Gates Foundation for the advanced development of a malaria vaccine, new drugs and innovative mosquito control methods.

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine will lead a new international Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) to fast track development of improved insecticides and other mosquito control methods. Other distinguished partners in the Consortium include Colorado State University, the University of California at Davis, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Medical Research Council, South Africa.

Said Dr Regina Rabinovich, Director of the Gates Foundation’s Infectious Diseases program: “We're very excited about about the work of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and its partners to improve mosquito control methods. This Consortium grant will bridge the gap between successful development of agricultural pesticides and much needed insecticides for public health use in Africa. 

“Millions of lives have already been lost in Africa as a result of malaria transmitting mosquitoes. Safer, more effective and more affordable mosquito control methods are urgently needed."

Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Professor Janet Hemingway, said that she and School staff were delighted and proud at news of the grant.

Said Professor Hemingway: "This grant is exciting news for the School and the city of Liverpool but also for the millions of people in countries where the School has been at the forefront of the fight against malaria.”

The School has a long history of success in malaria and mosquito research. Professor Hemingway was a member of an international team which has succeeded in genoming the mosquito and Dr Alister Craig was a member of the team which genomed its malaria carrying parasite. Professor Steve Ward was recently involved in the development of the first anti malarial drug for decades.

News of the grant comes only days after the North West Regional Development Agency and the Merseyside Objective One Programme announced that they were each investing £9 million in building a new Centre for Tropical and Infectious Diseases research centre at the School. This will be adjacent to the current building in Pembroke Place and will double the size of the School.

The Gates Foundation grant will be used to fund research to develop safer, more effective and longer lasting insecticides for mosquito control. The Consortium will also develop improved bednets and other insecticide treated materials. Research has shown that use of insecticide treated bed nets in the home in the developing world can dramatically reduce the incidence of malaria deaths in children. The Consortium will also develop software and other information tools to help health authorities in the developing world.

Said Professor Hemingway: “Historically, controlling mosquitoes has been the key to controlling malaria but mosquitoes are developing resistance to insecticides. We need new insecticides that are up to the task today and that are safe for humans and the environment. This grant will enable us to make huge strides in defeating the mosquito which is a very clever foe, constantly re-inventing itself so as to become resistant to insecticides."

Other new grants announced by the Gates Foundation include $107.6 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) to work with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and African investigators to complete testing and apply for licensure of the most advanced malaria vaccine candidate; and $100 million to the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) to work with public and private sector partners to accelerate the development of several promising new drugs through regulatory approval.

*Further information about the Gates Foundation grants. 

Media queries to Eileen Taylor, Press Officer, 0151-708-9393/0778 66 13604