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New global vaccine conference to accompany annual Grand Challenges for Global Health meeting

Grant recipients through the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative, a US$436.6 million program funded by theBill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase research on diseases that primarily affect developing countries, recently convened their annual meeting in Washington, DC to highlight progress on the 48 ongoing projects. Grantees include scientists from 33 countries who are working to tackle either scientific or technological challenges that could enhance global public health. The plans for this innovative funding mechanism were initially announced at the World Economic Forum in 2003 and the first round of grants were awarded last year in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health.

The Gates Foundation also recently awarded the Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, a US non-profit organization that hosts many high-profile scientific conferences, a three-year grant of $2.6 million to further expand their offerings of conferences that focus on global health. Keystone already sponsors several conferences concerning infectious diseases, including the annual symposia on HIV Pathogenesis and HIV Vaccines that are held in conjunction each spring.

With this new grant Keystone will add a meeting focused on vaccines called "Challenges of Global Vaccine Development," which will be held either immediately before or after the next Grand Challenges in Global Health Meeting. The first annual conference will take place from October 8-13 next year in Cape Town, South Africa and will involve 300 scientists, many of whom are investigators on one of the Grand Challenges projects. The Keystone Symposia will also use part of the grant to provide scholarships and travel awards to researchers from developing countries, and specifically to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who are completing their studies in Africa.

Other meetings that will be launched next year with this new funding include, "HIV Vaccines from Basic Research to Clinical Trials" and "Molecular and Cellular Determinants of HIV Pathogenesis."

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All articles written by Kristen Jill Kresge