NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Ninth Global Health Workshop Held with Gates Foundation

Gates speaks at a microphone while two men in suit jackets look on smiling
Bill Gates (r) addresses the workshop assembly in the Porter Neuroscience Research Center. The annual gathering focuses on global health issues.

Photo:  Marleen Van Den Neste

NIH hosted the ninth annual NIH-Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Leadership Workshop on Dec. 8. 

NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was set to retire at year’s end, co-chaired the morning session. Tributes to Fauci, who has spent the last 50-plus years at NIH fighting infectious diseases around the world, closed the morning. 

President Bill Clinton, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and prominent HIV scientists Dr. Salim Abdool and Dr. Quarraisha Karim of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa in Durban praised Fauci in pre-recorded remarks. 

Foundation co-chair Gates attended the workshop and added his own remarks of appreciation for Fauci’s leadership. 

Fauci and Gates sit next to each other at a conference table.
NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci co-chairs the morning session, which featured several pre-recorded tributes to his leadership over the last half century. He retired from NIH at the end of 2022.

Photo:  Marleen Van Den Neste

NIH and the Gates Foundation have pursued a working partnership since 2003, when the foundation created its Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative. The venture engaged scientists to work on 14 identified challenges that could lead to breakthrough advances in medicine. 

Major current collaborative projects include:

  • Novel potent broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies against HIV
  • Single-dose protection of licensed HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancers and substantively increase HPV vaccination coverage worldwide by reducing cost and simplifying administration 
  • Multi-country efforts to test intrapartum use of azithromycin to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes   
  • A novel tuberculosis vaccine designed to stop latent TB from becoming active and causing disease
  • Gene-based cures for HIV and sickle cell disease, using an in vivo gene-based approach that can be accomplished in a single or very few interventions 
Hunegnaw speaks at a podium
Dr. Ruth Hunegnaw, scientific advisor in the VRC biodefense research section, speaks at the morning session of the workshop.

Photo:  Marleen Van Den Neste

Notable achievements made possible through the partnership include a meningitis vaccine resulting in the lowest seasonal incidence recorded in the African meningitis belt, and a rapid molecular diagnostic test for drug-resistant tuberculosis that has reduced the time of diagnosis from three months to less than two hours. The same platform is used as one of several diagnostics for infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Based on annual surveys of financial flows, NIH and the Gates Foundation consistently contribute an estimated 60% of identified global health research and development spending. That estimate highlights the usefulness and influence of the annual meeting in framing global health priorities. 

Leaders at NIH and the foundation have valued the yearly sessions to gain insights on pioneering and deliverable innovations to advance global health.

About 200 people attended the day-long event, which was held on campus in the Porter Neuroscience Research Center.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)