Over 20 philanthropists in New York and Boston have united to donate finance a $20 million project at the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard to speed the worldwide fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).
The project is designed to use genomic methods and tools to fight drug resistance and determine the biology behind TB bacteria. The funds will also help researchers create a rapid diagnostic test to detect drug-resistant TB, allowing health care workers to detect and treat TB infections earlier. This is crucial when fighting a disease.
"Drug-resistant TB is a quiet crisis in global health," Bill Ackman, co-founder of the Pershing Square Foundation and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, said. "This epidemic deserves more attention and resources than it's getting. I'm delighted we could join with (the Baupost Group CEO and President) Seth (Klarman) and the Broad Institute to increase awareness and get the ball rolling on an innovative approach. Still, much more needs to be done."
Over 2 billion people around the world have TB infections, and approximately 2 million of these people die each year. Many of these deaths are connected to TB’s drug-resistant strains, which are extremely difficult to treat.
"It has become increasingly clear that we need to develop a new set of tools for those on the front lines," Klarman said. "There is enormous leverage in this project. The first $20 million is going to help propel advances that will inspire and attract further investment. And as a result, millions of people around the world will benefit.”