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December 19, 2001

Neglected Diseases of Global Importance—Reply

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;286(23):2943-2944. doi:10.1001/jama.286.23.2940

In Reply: We agree with Mr Ford and Dr Torreele that research and development of therapies for "neglected" diseases is an urgent priority. Innovative approaches to facilitate the development of drugs and vaccines for diseases that predominantly affect the developing world will require commitment by (and partnerships between) government, industry, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and philanthropies.

At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), research into parasitic and tropical diseases has been an important focus for more than 50 years, in intramural laboratories, at grantee institutions, and through global health research networks such as the International Centers for Tropical Disease Research.1 Government-sponsored research in pathogen genomics, as well as efforts to identify metabolic pathways, receptor-ligand interactions, and other potential targets for intervention, sets the stage for the development of new drugs and vaccines against infectious diseases. In this regard, it is incumbent that government agencies and others continue to pursue innovative ways to collaborate with industry to fight diseases that are not addressed by market forces. One example is the NIAID Challenge Grants Program, in which NIAID provides matching funds to companies that will commit their own dollars and resources toward developing new drugs and vaccines for diseases of global health importance.2