Ben-Gurion U. Prof. Zvi Bentwich receives Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant

November 09, 2014

BEER-SHEVA, Israel...November 10, 2014 - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Professor Zvi Bentwich has received a Grand Challenges in Global Health Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his project in Ethiopia to wipe out parasitic worm infections.

The funding will help support mass drug eradication efforts against these infections by implementing in parallel a health education campaign run by local students with the provision of clean water and sanitation facilities. Behavioral change and hygiene are essential for the eradication of many diseases.

Prof. Bentwich is a member of BGU's Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics and heads the Center for Emerging Diseases, Tropical Diseases and AIDS (CEMTA). His groundbreaking research in the 1990s uncovered a strong link between intestinal worms and immune system deficiencies, and he has been working to eradicate worms in Ethiopia ever since.

Bentwich will test his approach in an Ethiopian region with 30 schools, connected to a wider population of 200,000 people. Families will be treated with anti-parasitic drugs. Local students will be trained to provide health education, explaining the causes and symptoms of diseases, and how to avoid contracting them. The grant will also make it possible for the research team to provide water and latrines to schools. The effect of their approach on infection rates will be evaluated over an 18-month period.

The Center for Emerging Diseases, Tropical Diseases and AIDS was established in 2006 within the Faculty of Health Sciences at the BGU. This multidisciplinary center works to enhance existing scientific collaborations and facilitate new collaborations both inside and outside of Israel.

"We applaud Prof. Bentwich who has dedicated his career to solving the problems of Neglected Tropical Diseases," says Doron Krakow, executive vice president, American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, headquartered in New York City. "It is immensely gratifying to see that a prestigious grant organization such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes the groundbreaking work our faculty is passionate about to bring hope to all corners of the world."

Grand Challenges has given out 1,689 grants in 80 different countries across the globe.
-end-
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and has nine regional offices throughout the U.S. For more information, please visit http://www.aabgu.org.

Contact: Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications
alc@alavin.com
516-944-4486

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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