Novo Nordisk Foundation inks $300M R&D pact with Gates Foundation, Wellcome

The Novo Nordisk Foundation, Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have inked a $300 million R&D initiative focused in part on infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.

The trio is setting out to tackle several global health challenges, particularly for those that impact more vulnerable populations, according to a May 6 release. The three-year partnership includes a $100 million investment from each party, money that will go toward R&D designed to address the health impacts of climate change; infectious diseases; and better understanding the interaction between nutrition, immunity, disease and developmental outcomes.

The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to advance solutions that are accessible and affordable for people living in low- and middle-income countries. Funding will include direct support for researchers and institutions in those countries, including resources to advance locally relevant research agendas and build out R&D capacities.

When zooming in on infectious diseases, particular focus will be spent on addressing antimicrobial resistance, advancing disease surveillance, and developing vaccines for respiratory infections.  

“By pooling the vast experience and unique expertise of each organization—across research, technology, innovation, and enterprise—we can make advances that wouldn’t otherwise be possible,” Novo Nordisk Foundation CEO Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Ph.D., said in the press release. “I am particularly excited about the chance to break down barriers between often isolated areas of work—between cardiometabolic and infectious diseases, or between scientific discovery and delivery of solutions, for example—and support the development of truly innovative solutions that can improve and save lives.”

The influx of cash tied to Novo Nordisk’s GLP-agonist Wegovy in 2023 has equated to increased interest in the wider Novo name, including the non-profit Novo Nordisk Foundation.

In October 2023, Thomsen told Fierce Biotech that his self-appointed mission at the foundation was to draw together the organization’s disparate research work and make it “more mission-driven, more strategic.”  

Over the past few years, the philanthropic giant has joined hands with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle the creation of new antivirals designed to stave off a future pandemic and ways to utilize CO2 to produce proteins for human food.