CDC Foundation Receives Three Grants Totaling $13.5 Million For Meningitis and Rotavirus Global Advancements

The CDC Foundation has received three grants totaling $13.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the lives of millions worldwide. The grants will enable the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work in collaboration with partners to advance the implementation of meningitis and rotavirus vaccines, ensuring global disease protection.

“Meningococcal meningitis and rotavirus gastroenteritis are deadly diseases but are increasingly preventable now that immunization initiatives in the African meningitis belt and other resource-poor areas are reaching the most vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “The Gates Foundation funding will allow CDC to work together with countries and international partners to assure that a strong science base is available to sustain prevention efforts. Policy makers need this type of information to justify their own investments in life-saving vaccine programs.”

The first grant provides $10 million for a five-year project in which CDC and its partners will ensure the availability of high-quality, case-based meningitis surveillance data from across the African meningitis belt. This region is located in sub-Saharan Africa where the meningitis incidence rate is very high. CDC’s partners in the effort include the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO), Agence de Medecine Preventive (AMP), ministries of health, and non-governmental agencies with expertise in meningitis surveillance in the region. This grant will provide funding to establish a regional surveillance network to evaluate the impact of MenAfriVac, a meningococcal vaccine specifically designed to prevent epidemics in the region by vaccinating 300 million people by 2015, to guide research on the vaccine’s long-term effectiveness, herd immunity, serogroup replacement, and decision-making regarding future vaccines. The specific countries that will participate in the project have yet to be selected. The Meningitis Vaccine Project, which developed MenAfriVac with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working to eliminate meningitis epidemics as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are very appreciative of the generous investment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in these critical programs that will protect people and save lives,” said Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “With the experts at CDC and partners in Africa we will advance the prevention of disease, disability, and death through immunization.”

Two other grants will advance understanding of the rotavirus vaccination in Africa. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide. Globally, it causes about half a million deaths each year in children younger than five years of age.

The Rotavirus Intussusception Study in South Africa is a $1.9 million, four-year project. This effort will establish surveillance for intussusception, a type of bowel blockage in infants, at pediatric hospitals in seven cities across South Africa. Together with information from ongoing evaluations of vaccine impact and effectiveness in South Africa, these data will let policymakers examine the benefits of rotavirus vaccination and weigh them against any potential risks. The Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit at the University of Witwatersrand will be the lead collaborating partner in South Africa.

CDC’s Leveraging Global Rotavirus Networks program, in partnership with World Health Organization and the University of Virginia, aims to evaluate novel molecular diagnostic tools that allow for the detection of multiple enteric pathogens that cause diarrhea and permit identification of common rotavirus strains. The goals of this project are to better understand the role of different enteric pathogens in severe diarrhea in young children and to study the most common rotavirus strains causing diarrhea. If successful, the tools may also help rotavirus experts understand why some children who are immunized against rotavirus subsequently become ill with rotavirus diarrhea, helping to reveal how often these apparent cases of rotavirus vaccine failure are actually infections from other enteric pathogens. This $1.5 million grant will take place over two years.
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About the CDC Foundation
Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do more, faster, by forging public-private partnerships to support CDC’s 24/7 work to save lives and protect people from health and safety threats. The CDC Foundation annually manages more than 200 CDC-led programs in the United States and in 58 countries around the world. Since 1995 the CDC Foundation, which is the sole entity authorized by Congress to raise funds on CDC’s behalf, has launched more than 700 programs and raised $400 million to advance the life-saving work of CDC. For more information, please visit