At a glance
- Tackling diseases individually won’t solve many global health challenges. Working across disease areas allows us to identify public goods that can accelerate global health impact and reduce the threat of epidemics.
- We believe technical innovation has a critical role to play in the design, development, and deployment of these public goods.
- We invest in deep technical expertise and novel platforms in vaccine development and manufacturing to accelerate innovation for better, faster, and cheaper vaccines.
- We also invest in building high-quality modeling and forecasting capabilities informed by trustworthy primary data. We make this information public to allow all experts to better prioritize our collective global health resources.
The latest updates on vaccines
We invest in expertise and platform technologies that help us make vaccines faster, better, and cheaper. We also invest in education and training to ensure that knowledge around vaccine development and manufacturing is created, shared, and retained. Examples of this include:
- Adaptive clinical trial design
- Streamlining the schedule and dosing of vaccines
- Novel delivery formats for vaccines
- Developing modular, automated manufacturing platforms that enable small-batch vaccine production
Better data help us prioritize products, which increases our ability to make a meaningful impact. To that end, we fund institutional capacity for world-class modeling to provide critical information about the changing nature of
disease in time and space. We also invest in improving the underlying primary data feeding into these models. In some cases, this requires changing how we collect information. For example, the gold standard in assessing cause of death is an autopsy. However, when traditional autopsies are conducted on children, parents may be unable to preserve their child’s body, which can be painful and distressing. To address this, our grantees pioneered the minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) methodology. We believe that MITS, when combined with other elements of a national surveillance system, can dramatically improve the accuracy of investigations into the cause of death. This, in turn, will improve the aggregated data used by public health institutions and industry.
Areas of focus
Our team is organized into five domains.
Our Vaccine Clinical domain provides technical support on the clinical evaluation of vaccines to all disease areas within the foundation. It also houses our product development investments on human papillomavirus (HPV), most notably a series of clinical trials funded to help our partners determine the health impact and cost effectiveness of giving just one dose of HPV vaccine instead of the existing schedule of two doses.
To ensure a sustainable supply of high-quality, affordable biologics and vaccines, our CMC domain provides advice to all priority disease areas within the foundation on improving the cost and manufacturability of their vaccines. We also invest in a number of platforms to increase manufacturing flexibility, reduce the number of injections through long-acting and slow-release formulations, increase the simplicity of giving injections through novel devices, decrease the cost of vaccine containers, and improve vaccine quality.
Our Surveillance & Epidemiology domain works to improve the world’s understanding of the causes of mortality and disability through two primary activities: 1) unprecedented pathology-based child mortality surveillance through MITS, and 2) the extrapolation of the MITS data nationwide through our Countrywide Mortality Surveillance for Action (COMSA) program.
Our Genomic Epidemiology and Modeling domain focuses on building platforms to democratize the use of genomic surveillance for infectious disease in low- and middle-income countries and improving the modeling and mapping of global mortality and disease data through global partnerships.
Our Epidemic Preparedness domain aims to reduce the threat of epidemics by investing in novel vaccines and rapid-response platforms, innovative surveillance methods, and accountability systems to improve country-level preparedness.
Why focus on vaccine development and surveillance?
In global health, the focus put on fighting individual diseases has had enormous impact, yet many of the most stubborn challenges we continue to face are shared across disease areas. Whether it’s accelerating the development of new vaccines, forecasting the global health challenges of tomorrow, or preparing for epidemics, we must work beyond the scope of one disease area and create durable public goods whose benefits permeate global health.
Vaccines are among the most powerful tools used in combating diseases. Yet despite substantial scientific advances and investment, bringing vaccines to market affordably and reliably remains a challenge. Promising candidates can fail late in development, and existing vaccines can face supply shortages, resulting in wasted time, wasted investments, and missed opportunities to improve human health. The diseases of low-resource settings—whether they are entrenched, like malaria and HIV, or the next outbreak pathogen—are often some of the hardest to address scientifically. They are also often the least attractive commercially. These challenges mean vaccine development for low-resource settings will only be successful if we use innovation in technologies, platforms, processes, and business models to accelerate timelines and reduce costs.
Because developing new vaccines is a lengthy and expensive undertaking, it is particularly important that we understand how to prioritize our efforts. Some diseases lend themselves to vaccine intervention. Others, like the neglected tropical diseases, are best tackled through better deployment of existing interventions. And still others, like noncommunicable diseases, require non-vaccine approaches. Unfortunately, because the quality of our primary data is so poor, it is difficult to determine, for example, how many deaths a malaria vaccine could prevent. Or, in the case of parents who experience the tragedy of losing a child, they may never know the true cause of death. The mystery behind these individual tragedies accumulates into a collective public health conundrum, making it impossible for product developers, governments, and funders to effectively prioritize resources for global and public health.
We believe we can accelerate the impact of vaccines in low-resource contexts by cultivating deep expertise in the vaccine manufacturing process, quality control, and clinical evaluation. This expertise allows us to advise on more effective vaccine development programs and identify new areas of innovation to benefit multiple disease programs.
In addition to technical expertise, we also need to know which problems are the most important to tackle. Trustworthy primary data and high-quality modeling and forecasting allow us to better prioritize the collective resources of global health. By improving the methods for primary data collection, we can give parents the peace of knowing what caused their child to pass away. We can also enhance the aggregated data that policymakers, health workers, funders, and product developers use to make decisions about innovation and implementation.
Finally, we know we need to address the time it takes to develop and deliver vaccines for epidemics. The urgency of epidemics requires solutions in months or even weeks, whereas traditional vaccine development can take years. Addressing this challenge will take innovation. We need to reimagine the way we use our immune systems to combat disease, allowing us to develop both “just-in-time” vaccines for unknown epidemics as well as a store of “just-in-case” vaccines for the next outbreak.
CHAMPS collects, analyzes, and shares evidence to prevent child mortality in regions where it is highest.
COMSA is building a surveillance system that continuously tracks pregnancies, births, and deaths in representative communities, allowing countries to produce estimates on an annual basis.
IHME is an independent global health research center based at the University of Washington that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them.
CEPI is a global partnership that works to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to those vaccines during outbreaks.
The Discovery & Translational Sciences team invests in the development of new, better, more affordable, and more easily disseminated tools that can have transformational impact on global health and development.
The Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases team supports the development of vaccines for the leading causes of gastrointestinal and diarrheal infections, which kill hundreds of thousands of children in lower-income countries each year.
The Global Delivery Programs team works with partners to improve the delivery of health products and services and promote health system innovations so countries can reduce maternal and child mortality, improve disease control, and advance health equity.
The Integrated Development team advises our global health teams on how to support partners in navigating complex regulatory and manufacturing challenges related to new drugs, vaccines, and devices.
The Pneumonia team works to reduce childhood deaths from pneumonia in lower-income countries by supporting pneumonia vaccine development and delivery and expanding the use of antibiotic treatments and diagnostic tools.
The Polio team supports efforts to eradicate polio from the remaining endemic countries through targeted vaccination campaigns, improved disease surveillance, routine immunization efforts, and new vaccine development.