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Gates joins Novo Nordisk, Wellcome to back global health research

A $300 million fund will help address health challenges from climate and infectious diseases

Gates joins Novo Nordisk, Wellcome to back global health research
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has tied up with the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Wellcome to support critical scientific research and development (R&D) for global health.

The partnership will focus on supporting science and innovation to advance solutions that are accessible and affordable to people in low- and middle-income countries, the organizations said. 

The three-year initiative was announced at the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Global Science Summit in Denmark this week.

The organizations have committed $100 million each, or a combined $300 million, which will support solutions to address the health impacts of climate change, infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and greater understanding of the interplay between nutrition, immunity, disease, and developmental outcomes.

“Debt crises are forcing governments to cut funding for essential health programs; climate change and conflict are shattering communities; and progress to protect lives from diseases known and unknown is under threat. Across all of these challenges, it is the world’s poorest who are most affected,” the Gates Foundation said in a statement.

Recognizing that philanthropy has an important role to play but can’t do it alone, the Gates Foundation said it will, along with the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Wellcome, explore opportunities to expand this effort to include both public and private partners, as well as engaging other philanthropic partners

“We’re on the cusp of so many scientific breakthroughs in agriculture, health, and nutrition, and with the right support, these innovations will save and improve lives around the world,” said Mark Suzman, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

“Every sector has a critical role to play, and we hope this collaboration opens the door for other funders and partners to contribute to scaling up existing innovations and developing the tools of tomorrow,” Suzman said.

The philanthropic arm of Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates works to help people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. 

Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates. 

“By pooling the vast experience and unique expertise of each organization—across research, technology, innovation, and enterprise—we can make advances that wouldn’t otherwise be possible,” Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, the CEO of Novo Nordisk Foundation, said. 

“I am particularly excited about the chance to break down barriers between often isolated areas of work—between cardiometabolic and infectious diseases, or between scientific discovery and delivery of solutions, for example—and support the development of truly innovative solutions that can improve, and save, lives,” Thomsen added. 

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is a charitable foundation focusing on medical treatment and research. It also owns Novo Holdings A/S, the holding firm that is the majority voting shareholder of Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk.

“We face huge challenges to protecting and improving physical and mental health, compounded by vast inequities globally,” said John-Arne Røttingen, the CEO of UK-based global charitable foundation Wellcome. 

“Solutions will start in science. We’ve seen this throughout history, and we’ve lived first-hand through incredible advances to save and improve lives. In today’s complex world, health challenges increasingly overlap. We need global collaboration and cooperation more than ever to build healthier futures, and for society to thrive. I look forward to seeing the exciting, innovative research that will come as a result of this partnership. By partnering with the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Gates Foundation, we can raise ambition, and combine resources and networks to find new ways to advance global health research—especially for those with greatest need,” Røttingen said. 

Wellcome funds research, leads policy and advocacy campaigns, and builds global partnerships to solve urgent health challenges.

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