The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $7 million grant for genomic research in eight low and middle-income countries, including India. South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Brazil are among the other countries.
The pledge was made during the 17th Grand Challenges Annual Meeting, which took place between November 8 and 11, and is part of the foundation’s newly launched Global Immunology and Immune Sequencing for Epidemic Response (GIISER) programme. GIISER works to ensure that scientists are able to detect new SARS-CoV-2 variants in their communities as soon as they show signs of evading immune response.
GIISER will function as a decentralised network of autonomous and geographically distinct hubs capable of connecting local pathogen sequencing data and clinical epidemiology with local immunological knowledge and tools.
Data science, such as mathematical modelling to inform national malaria control programmes, digital health services for pregnant women, and innovations to close gaps identified by current programmes for eliminating neglected tropical diseases, will be initial focus areas.
In addition, the Foundation pledged an initial $50 million toward a new 10-year programme to support science and innovation in low- and middle-income countries. It also provides 14 African scientists with science leadership fellowships.
“We need the ideas and leadership of the people who are closest to the global health challenges we’re working to address,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The programme “represents our commitment to advance innovation and equity while strengthening local partners in a sustainable way”, she added.