April 03, 2014

Research Roundup: What we’re reading this week

Senior Program Assistant

In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

During a meeting last week at the United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Medicine, the topic of health research was raised and how it might fit into the post-2015 development agenda. At the meeting, UK Department for International Development Chief Scientific Officer Chris Whitty spoke about the necessity of forward thinking as it relates to global health research. Whitty acknowledged the need to think ahead to what research will be needed from 2020-2040 so that priorities are defined by what the global public health world might look like in the future.

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline plans to invest up to £130 million in Africa over the next five years to build the continent’s capacity to develop new tools to combat the region’s rising occurrence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). New money will go to expanding manufacturing capacity in specific African countries, as well as open the world’s first open-access research and development laboratory for NCDs in Africa.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, and other donors will invest $240 million to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in low- and middle-income countries. The new funding comes after a pledge by 13 drugmakers two years ago to donate medicines to treat ten NTDs, including river blindness, Guinea worm, and sleeping sickness.

Dr. Deborah Birx has been confirmed by the Senate to be the next Global AIDS Coordinator, filling the post to lead the world’s largest health program. Widely praised by global health advocates, Dr. Birx previously led efforts to introduce the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-sponsored rollout of life-saving HIV treatments to certain sites in Africa, and launched the first clinical research trials to show proof of concept that an HIV-preventing vaccine was possible.