$100 Million Gift to Johns Hopkins University Targets Malaria
BALTIMORE, Maryland, May 10, 2001 (ENS) - An anonymous donor has pledged $100 million to the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health for a 10 year effort to rid the world of malaria by developing a new vaccine and drugs.
The gift will establish the Johns Hopkins Malaria Institute. The multidisciplinary center will combine traditional approaches with new weapons such as genomics and bioinformatics to take aim at a disease that kills an estimated one million to two million people a year and leaves hundreds of millions of others sick and destitute.
The global fight against malaria is losing ground. Anti-malaria drugs are losing effectiveness as resistant strains develop around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
Eradication of parasite carrying mosquitoes with such agents as DDT carries environmental concerns as the pesticide affects the human nervous and reproductive systems and may cause cancers. It is linked with the disappearance of bird species.
Attempts to develop a malaria vaccine have failed. Research is underfunded, because malaria is a relatively small problem in the developed world, the university said. Pharmaceutical companies have limited economic incentive to develop drugs aimed at a market in the developing world.
"This gift is a visionary investment in the health of millions and the future of humanity, especially in the developing world," said William Brody, president of the university. "We are determined to make that investment pay off."
"We will bring together outstanding young scientists from multiple disciplines, not necessarily malaria experts," Sommer said. "We'll teach them about malaria and put them together in a critical mass, the goal being an innovative vaccine," and other new anti-malarial drugs.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Institute will collaborate with scientists across the United States and around the world and with WHO's "Roll Back Malaria" program, aimed at halving the disease's worldwide impact by 2010, Sommer said.
The institute is expected to attract additional funding from government and private sources, he said.
The $100 million gift matches the largest previous gift in Johns Hopkins history, the $100 million given by alumnus and news media entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg during the recent Johns Hopkins Initiative campaign. Bloomberg's gift benefited all the university's schools. The School of Public Health, which received the largest share, was renamed last month in recognition of Bloomberg's devotion to the university.