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Tsinghua University, Gates Foundation to set up institute on drug discovery

Updated: Jan 23,2016 10:03 AM     Xinhua

Committed to creating an advanced drug discovery and translational platform, Tsinghua University and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on Jan 22 decided to join forces to establish the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI) in Beijing.

At a meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Qiu Yong, President of Tsinghua University, and Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), agreed to co-found the institute. They signed a memorandum of understanding.

The institute will be the first research and development center of its kind in China, a joint statement released by the two sides said.

The institute will tackle major diseases faced by many developing countries, including China.

As co-founding partners of GHDDI, BMGF will provide financial support as well as assistance on institutional development, whereas Tsinghua University will invest various resources to support the institute, including talents and scientists, programs, facilities, as well as operation and management.

According to the statement, GHDDI will enter into a strategic alliance with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), which has an outstanding track record in early drug discovery and development. This partnership will help the institute strengthen its expertise and capacity in translational medicine.

“China has made incredible progress in reducing poverty and shares the foundation’s commitment to harnessing advances in science and technology to address the critical health challenges affecting the world’s poorest people,” Bill Gates said.

“We are excited about GHDDI’s potential to drive innovation in global health research and development, and look forward to partnering with Tsinghua University on our continued work to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges,” he added.

“The establishment of GHDDI is an important effort by Tsinghua University to advance pharmaceutical research and translational medicine,” Qiu said.

Tsinghua University had been building biomedical research since the 1980s, and had since made substantial developments. Building on these progresses, Tsinghua University established the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences on Dec 25, 2015, and has designated pharmaceutical sciences as a new key development area in its thirteenth five-year plan, according to Qiu.

Meanwhile, he emphasized that, in parallel with the development of the pharmaceutical sciences, Tsinghua University will leverage its strengths in related disciplines such as chemistry and chemical engineering, material science, medical engineering, and information technology to enhance its overall capabilities in biomedical research. He also hoped this initiative will facilitate the reform of pharmaceutical research and development system in China and impact global health.

The establishment of GHDDI in Beijing is another important collaboration between the Gates Foundation and China. BMGF is dedicated to driving innovation in global health and development. It endeavors to solve health problems that plague the poorest populations in the world, including diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

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