Gates Foundation commits $120M for nonprofit PATH's vaccine work

The Gates Foundation granted Seattle nonprofit PATH $120 million to advance its vaccination programs.

After launching its Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access (CVIA) last year, nonprofit PATH secured a major commitment from the Gates Foundation as it strives to develop new vaccines for and improve access in low-resource areas around the world.

The Gates Foundation’s $120 million grant is “critically important,” CVIA Director David Kaslow, M.D., told FiercePharma, as the group works on 30 vaccine projects across 17 disease targets. His organization aims to provide vaccines and improve access in areas overlooked by the global pharmaceutical industry.

Particularly, he said, the grant will allow the center to improve its quality systems to keep up with ever-increasing international standards. Along with the funding, the center announced it's bringing on former officials from the NIH and FDA, plus experts with experience at GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Sanofi, MedImmune and Roche.

The Gates Foundation backed CVIA with $11 million last year so it could get on its feet. The new funding lasts for 4 years and additionally will give CVIA the ability to pivot resources to projects with a higher chance of success, Kaslow said.

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Over 20 years in the vaccine business, PATH, a global nonprofit based in Seattle, has developed a meningitis A vaccine that “essentially eliminated” the disease in parts of Africa, Kaslow said, and helped a Chinese manufacturer win WHO prequalification for a Japanese encephalitis vaccine that’s since made its way to 305 million people. The group is also involved in projects for pneumonia, rotavirus and malaria vaccines.

Founded in 1977, PATH also works in drugs, diagnostics, devices and health system improvements. The group started as a way to bring medical breakthroughs and resources from industry and academia to people in poor communities.

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This isn’t the first time the nonprofit’s work has won major support from the Gates Foundation. Back in 2014, PATH’s Malaria Vaccines Initiative secured a $156 million commitment from the foundation to advance its research against the disease.

Along with many other programs in science and elsewhere, the Gates Foundation also funds the nonprofit international vaccine group Gavi. A new study said that group’s efforts will save 20 million lives and $350 billion in healthcare costs by 2020.