Gates Foundation Awards $40 Million for Pneumonia Screening

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $40 million to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to screen for the causes of pneumonia in children in developing countries, the New York Times reports.

Pneumonia kills two million children a year — more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. Although the disease has many causes — bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitical — it is often treated with antibiotics without testing for the cause. The grant will be used to pay for laboratories in five developing countries that will employ techniques not yet in use in the developing world, including inflating children's lungs with mist to get deep sputum samples and using a technology called MassTag PCR that screens for pathogens; the five countries have not yet been chosen. The foundation also awarded Johns Hopkins a number of smaller grants to calculate how many pneumonia cases there are in adult and adolescent populations.

"Most existing information," said Orin S. Levine, the leader of the research group receiving the grant, "was generated ten to twenty years ago with lab techniques that hadn't changed vastly since Louis Pasteur's time."