Oregon Health & Science University researchers have received additional funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to conduct AIDS vaccine research. The funding enables individuals worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges. OHSU’s research funded through a $999,998 grant will take place at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute on OHSU’s West Campus in Beaverton, Ore., and will be led by assistant scientist Jonah Sacha, Ph.D.
Sacha and colleagues are taking a unique approach to a problem that has eluded scientists for many years: the development of a protective, antibody-based AIDS vaccine that stops the virus from infecting the host. Previous research, also funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has suggested this might be possible. These studies are based on lessons learned from the immune response to both HIV and cancer. Instead of targeting the highly mutable virus itself, the new approach will target a surrogate marker of HIV infection to block the transmission of HIV.
“Grand Challenges Explorations encourages individuals worldwide to expand the pipeline of ideas where creative, unorthodox thinking is most urgently needed,” said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’re excited to provide additional funding for select grantees so that they can continue to advance their idea towards global impact.”
Grand Challenges Explorations funds scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Sacha’s project is one of six Grand Challenges Explorations Phase II grants announced today.