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November 4, 2010

Global infectious disease researchers awarded Gates grants

Two UW scientists with bold new ideas for treating infectious diseases rampant in developing nations are among the latest recipients of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Exploration Grants.


The $1 million grants were awarded this past week to scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs to test innovative approaches to global health problems. Nine projects worldwide were recently funded. At the UW, the grants were awarded to Keith Jerome, assistant professor of laboratory medicine and microbiology, and Pradpsinh Rathod, professor of chemistry.


Jerome is seeking ways to defeat the AIDS virus before it gains a tenacious grip on the immune systems of infected individuals. His work involves delineating those DNA sequences of the virus that are destined to create a stronghold inside the body, and cutting them apart. His goal is to find a treatment for HIV infection that does not require ongoing medication to manage an incurable disease. Jerome is an assistant member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.


Rathod is working on methods to disable mutations in malaria parasites that make them resistant to anti-malarial drugs. Preventing such mutations may extend the usefulness of existing drugs to prevent and treat malaria, which sickens 250 million people each year, mostly in the tropics of Africa and Asia.