Alberta Glycomics Centre Receives Grand Challenges Tuberculosis Biomarkers Grant

The Alberta Glycomics Centre will receive a grant through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?s Grand Challenges in Global Health program

13 February 2012

The Alberta Glycomics Centre will receive a tuberculosis (TB) biomarkers grant through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health program, an initiative that seeks to overcome persistent bottlenecks in creating new tools that can radically improve health in the developing world.

Dr. Todd Lowary, the Centre Director and a Professor in the Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta will pursue an innovative research project to identify and validate TB biomarkers, titled "Cell Wall Glycan Biomarkers for Tuberculosis."

The Grand Challenges TB biomarkers program provides funding for groundbreaking research into TB biomarkers for the development of a low-cost, simple to use tool that can quickly and accurately diagnose TB in developing countries.

"There is an urgent need to break through barriers in biomarker research in order to develop a highly-sensitive point-of-care diagnostic to improve identification of active TB cases," said Chris Wilson, Director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope these innovative ideas lead to effective and affordable TB diagnostics that can make an impact on one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases."

Dr. Lowary's project is one of ten Grand Challenges TB biomarkers grants announced today. Projects that receive funding show promise that measurement of the specific biomarker is linked to the presence of TB.

Supported by the grant, Dr. Lowary's team will work to identify TB biomarkers from the carbohydrate-containing molecules on the outer surface of the bacteria that cause the disease. "This $375,000 grant allows us to investigate various research strategies aimed at the early detection of TB," said Dr. Lowary. "Our Centre's success in health-related research and innovation has been advanced through the efforts of organizations like Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures."

About Grand Challenges in Global Health

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes that solving our greatest global health issues is a long-term effort. Through Grand Challenges in Global Health, the foundation is committed to seeking out and rewarding not only established researchers in science and technology, but also young investigators, entrepreneurs and innovators to help expand the pipeline of ideas to fight diseases that claim millions of lives each year. We anticipate that additional grants will be awarded through the Grand Challenges program in the future.

About the Alberta Glycomics Centre

The Alberta Glycomics Centre (formerly known as Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Carbohydrate Science) is an Alberta Innovates Centre for Research and Commercialization. The Centre uses glycomics* to address complex health issues by exploring novel strategies to lead the development of new vaccines, diagnostics and other medicinal applications. Some of these novel applications include strategies to combat tuberculosis, Clostridium difficile, and other infectious diseases and foodborne pathogens. More information can be found at

*Glycomics is the study of the role of carbohydrates and carbohydrate-containing biomolecules in biological systems. Carbohydrates play a critical role in many biological processes including biological recognition, cell-to-cell interaction, immune response, infection and inflammation. It is anticipated that the Glycomics field will lead to the development of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics.