Our organization funds research that tries to bring an end to human suffering from disease. We have $5 million over a 3-year period as a single grant. I've narrowed the field down to three very respectable proposals for three very different diseases. Believe me, these are tough decisions. We'd like you to consider two major criteria. First, what is the magnitude of the situation? How many people are affected by the disease? You must consider how serious the consequences of the disease are for the individual and for society.
The second criterion concerns how effective the proposed plan will be for fighting or preventing the disease. Will we be able to get the treatments to those who are affected by it? If the plan is to develop a new treatment or prevention strategy, how likely is it to be successful? What will be the cost, and who will pay? Rate these proposals using these two criteria and then give me a final recommendation.
AIDS is now a worldwide epidemic that affects every sector of society. The most effective way to deal with AIDS is with powerful drugs. We attack the disease with drugs like AZT. It stops the virus from replicating and keeps the amount of virus in the blood low. By doing that and treating the symptoms at the same time, the patient will survive 5, 10 years, even more. Hopefully, then, maybe the body takes over and holds off the disease on its own. It isn't a cure. But living with the disease is better than dying with it. The problem is that these drugs are expensive. Our proposal is simple. Give us the money, and we will give years of life to our patients.
Patients come to our hospital for routine surgery and then, five days later, they have a life-threatening infection of Staphylococcus aureus. But that's not new. Staph is everywhere, especially in hospitals where infants, surgical patients, and others in poor health provide an environment with plenty of easy prey for the bacteria. What's changed is that the antibiotics that once cured a staph infection are not effective anymore. We're lucky, because we have vancomycin, which kills the most resistant strains of Staph. aureus. But recently, we've discovered isolated cases of vancomycin-resistant Staph. aureus (or VRSA). We must work quickly to develop new drug therapies before these resistant strains become widespread. Our proposal is to develop and test drug therapies that can stop Staph. aureus before we have an epidemic.
It may not seem like a big deal, but measles is on its way back. For people in the United States, Measles is a somewhat uncommon childhood disease. You get it once and then become immune. And normally that means nothing more than missing a week of school or an itchy red rash. But it is a major killer in the developing countries, where there are insufficient vaccination programs and poor medical care. We have an excellent vaccine that could eliminate the virus, just as we have done with Smallpox. We would use the grant money to prepare and distribute Measles vaccine globally as part of a coordinated effort to wipe out the virus.
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