Grand Challenges 2022 & Meeting Bill Gates

*images were obtained from Johan’s LinkedIn post

Last week, on the 24th of October 2022, our partner Johan Neyts and his associates welcomed Bill Gates (of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Mr. Trevor Mundel, Mr. Chris Karp and Mr. Niranjan Bose at the KU Leuven Rega Institute. Bill Gates was in Belgium for the Grand Challenges 2022, an annual meeting that brings together funding and research partners within the Grand Challenges network and beyond. During this visit, Johan and his associates led impactful discussions on strategies against viral threats and visited the high biosafety laboratories in KU Leuven.

Johan Neyts and his associates welcoming Bill Gates at KU Leuven Rega Institute, Belgium

At the Grand Challenges 2022 event, Johan was selected as the first spotlight talk. During his talk (titled the Battle Against Viruses: No Time to Lose!), Johan explained the urgent need to develop potent antiviral drugs against neglected viral infections such as dengue, rabies, polio and broader-acting antivirals for epidemic and pandemic preparedness. 

To be able to develop antiviral drugs and prepare for an epidemic or pandemic, it is important to consider other factors such as research & development and the characteristics of the virus. We have witnessed how resource mobilization has resulted in a rapid and successful COVID-19 discovery, but other viruses and future outbreaks may be harder to mitigate. Therefore, it is important to develop these antiviral drugs before another crises forms. During his talk, Johan highlighted this point by describing a program in which the Belgian government currently invests to help prepare for crises such as an epidemic or a pandemic.

Johan’s spotlight talk is now available on the website of Grand Challenges. To watch his talk, click on the button below.