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Gates Foundation Gives San Diego's Scripps $4.5M For Aids Research

Pictured is Scripps Research Institute's associate professor Andrew Ward in this undated photo.
Scripps Research Institute
Pictured is Scripps Research Institute's associate professor Andrew Ward in this undated photo.

The Scripps Research Institute announced Thursday it received more than $4.5 million in a pair of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pursue a vaccine against HIV/AIDS.

The money from the foundation's Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery program will provide tools to collect and process high-resolution images of HIV proteins interacting with antibodies, giving scientists a picture of which substances that induce immunity, called immunogens, are most effective and why.

"We are delighted by the Gates Foundation's support of this critical work," said Jim Paulson, acting president and CEO of TSRI. "With 35 million infected individuals worldwide, an effective HIV vaccine is urgently needed to slow and ultimately eliminate new infections."

Associate professor Andrew Ward, who will lead the five-year study, said the money will allow researchers to put all their resources "under one roof" to better evaluate HIV vaccine candidates.

"HIV is the Mount Everest of viruses," Ward said. "This is an effort to screen immunogens and vaccines that have a high likelihood of success."

The money will also be used to boost computer processing power, because recent advances in electron microscopy have enabled scientists to collect more detailed images than ever before, providing an unprecedented amount of data.

A grant last year from the co-founder of Microsoft and his wife paid for institute to acquire a powerful cryo-electron microscope.