Gates Foundation Grant Targets Elephantiasis

Author: Notre Dame Magazine staff

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $5.2 million grant to Notre Dame for a five-year program to research, treat and build resources for eliminating the disease that causes elephantiasis in Haiti.

Rev. Thomas G. Streit, CSC, research assistant professor of biological sciences, will direct the program in collaboration with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The effort focuses on lymphatic filariasis, a disease afflicting some 120 million people in the tropics. Often carried by mosquitoes, the disease is rarely fatal but permanently maims and disfigures its victims. It has been endemic in Haiti since at least the 17th century.

The program will be based at Holy Cross Hospital in Leogane, Haiti, and will serve as a resource not only for Haiti but several other Caribbean and South American countries affected by the disease.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched by and named for the Microsoft founder and his wife, is a philanthropic organization with a major focus on helping improve people’s lives through health and learning.