Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the Internet search giant, has announced grants totaling $14 million to organizations working in Southeast Asia and Africa to prevent the next global pandemic.
Awarded as part of Google.org's Predict and Prevent initiative, the grants will support efforts to identify hot spots where diseases may emerge, detect new pathogens circulating in animal and human populations, and respond to outbreaks before they become global crises. Several new infectious diseases crop up every year, and three-quarters of all new diseases have jumped from animals to humans.
Grants include $5.5 million to the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative to collect and analyze blood samples of humans and animals; $3 million to the Children's Hospital Corporation to assess emerging disease reporting systems and develop tools to improve the detection and reporting of outbreaks; and $2.5 million to the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health to accelerate the discovery of new pathogens. Grants to identify disease hot spots include $2 million to the Woods Hole Research Center and $900,000 each to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the Columbia University International Research Institute for Climate and Society.
"Business as usual won't prevent the next AIDS or SARS," said Google.org executive director Larry Brilliant. "The teams we're funding today are on the frontiers of digital and genetic early detection technology. We hope that their work, with partners across environmental, animal, and human health boundaries, will help solve centuries-old problems and save millions of lives."