The internationally recognized Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded VCU’s School of Engineering $25 million dollars to develop a revamped medical institute this week.
The Medicines for All Institute will be a new medical facility that will be charged with the task of creating life-saving medicine that is affordable and readily accessible for people all around the world.
Some of the medicines that are in the works include vaccines and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
This is the second grant, following a $15 million donation from the Gates Foundation distributed over the past three years, to the institute. It is lead by B. Frank Gupton, who serves as the Chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering.
In a press conference held on Aug. 24, Gupton applauded the Gate’s Foundation for investing in the future of the institute.
“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,” Gupton said.
The institute’s goal is to speed up the process of developing certain medications that are used globally without increasing the cost.
According to Gupton, by decreasing the time of production, more pharmaceutical companies will be inclined to manufacture and distribute these necessary drugs.
Ultimately, Gupton said that this grant will help the institute “bring in additional senior scientists and allow them to equip their labs and staff them immediately.”
“I am extremely grateful for Dr. Frank Gupton’s leadership and innovative spirit,” said VCU President Michael Rao.. “With the grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, scholars and researchers with the Medicines for All institute will tackle the difficult work of improving the quality of life for those facing health-related adversities.
The Gates Foundation has donated to the institute in prior years. However, each donation only allowed Gupton and his team of VCU graduate students to work on one drug at a time. With this large sum of $25 million, which will be distributed over five years, his team can work on various drugs at a time, with a goal of 13 drugs in total.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe also played a significant role in securing the largest grant that VCU has ever received from a private organization.
McAuliffe advocated on the behalf of the institute to sway the Gate’s Foundation to further invest in its mission to provide accessible healthcare.
Barbara D. Boyan, Dean of the VCU School of Engineering, thanked the Gate’s Foundation for their gracious donation.
“To be able to work on projects that are not only scientifically interesting, but also critically important for global health, is an incredible opportunity for our students and for the economic development of Richmond.”
Hiba is a senior studying broadcast journalism and religious studies. In addition to writing for the CT, she is the campus editor-at-large for the Huffington Post, a reporter for VCU InSight and president of United Muslim Relief at VCU. This summer, Hiba interned with the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. She previously interned with Voice for America and as a web content intern for VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.
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