Gates Foundation Awards $25 Million to VCU to Expand Access to Drugs

Gates Foundation Awards $25 Million to VCU to Expand Access to Drugs

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond has announced a $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of efforts to expand global access to live-saving drugs.

The largest grant ever from a private entity to VCU will establish the Medicines for All Institute in the School of Engineering and fund work on a wide range of essential treatments for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases. The Gates Foundation has awarded grants totaling nearly $15 million to the Medicines for All program over the last four years, during which researchers developed a model for accelerating the creation of more efficient ways of synthesizing the active ingredients in AIDS drugs, thus lowering their costs. Medicines for All also has worked with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and other partners to transfer the new processes to manufacturers so that more drugs and treatments reach communities in need.

B. Frank Gupton, the Floyd D. Gottwald Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering at VCU, said that while grants from the Gates Foundation to date have supported work on a single drug at a time, the latest award will enable researchers to study multiple drugs in parallel. The grant also will fund the institute’s work on an additional thirteen global health treatments over the next five years.

"These funds will allow us to bring in additional senior scientists and allow them to equip their labs and staff them immediately," said Gupton. "The funds and the milestones on the grant are not only linked to the drugs that we are optimizing but in how we create a sustainable organization."