Most of the criticism I’ve seen of Gates’s philanthropy are of a tilt toward incorporating private-sector, profit-driven participants. I don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to evaluate the criticisms one way or another.
As for Gates-funded projects, here are three that I’ve been involved in. Two are ongoing, one is done and we’re trying get the results published.
One project is to identify a set of protein markers in blood that could be used to determine whether a child was suffering from viral or bacterial pneumonia (or malaria) so they could be treated correctly. There is currently no good way to distinguish the cause of pneumonia and treatment is very different for viruses and bacteria. Pneumonia is a major killer of children in lower income countries.
Another project is a followup to the RTS,S malaria vaccine trial, which showed partial effectiveness of the vaccine. This study looks at different vaccine delivery schedules to see if efficacy of the vaccine (which currently is pretty crappy) can be improved.
The third project is the latest in a long-standing collaboration between Harvard and malaria researchers in Senegal. The goal now is to move genetic studies of malaria parasites out of the research lab and make them a practical part of Senegal’s national malaria control program. The project funds ongoing genetic sampling of parasites (and mosquitoes) throughout the country, with the goal of tracking drug resistance, distinguishing local transmission from imported cases, and using genetic measures of things like inbreeding to evaluate how anti-malaria interventions are working in different parts of the country, allowing the NMCP to prioritize efforts.
Pretty much without exception, I’ve found everyone involved to be fiercely dedicated to improving human health and well-being. These are mostly people who could be making more money and spending less time traveling to malaria-endemic places if they were some other line of work. The idea that they’ve dedicated their lives to doing this so they can kill people would be deeply offensive if it weren’t so ludicrous.
(Killing people is a lousy way to reduce the population, by the way. It’s abundantly clear by this time that the way to slow and reverse population growth is through better health care, better education, and access to birth control.)