Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 13:16 UK

Tycoon helps pneumonia research

Bill Gates

Billionaire computer tycoon Bill Gates has given more than £1m to Scottish scientists to help tackle the world's biggest childhood killer.

Edinburgh University experts were given the funding by the world's richest man in a bid to tackle childhood pneumonia.

The condition causes two million deaths in under-fives each year.

Edinburgh University said it was "delighted" to work with the Gates Foundation to help "prioritise" the most effective treatment.

Deaths from childhood pneumonia occur mainly among youngsters from poor backgrounds with limited access to healthcare.

Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by a variety of different germs, symptoms of which include chest pains, fever, coughing and vomiting.

By acting now and acting together we could have a great impact on childhood disease

Professor Harry Campbell
Edinburgh University

The funding, from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, amounts to about £1,360,000.

It will allow mathematicians to work with doctors to predict how effective new preventions and treatments might be.

This will help prioritise the best approach to save lives, the university said.

Professor Harry Campbell, from the university's school of clinical sciences and community health, said: "Childhood pneumonia affects millions of poor and under-privileged families around the world every year.

"But solving a problem like this takes hard work and hard choices. We need to know which strategies work best and where investment will make the greatest difference."

He added: "We are delighted to work with the Gates Foundation to help them prioritise the most effective treatment solutions.

"By acting now and acting together we could have a great impact on childhood disease."

Former Microsoft chief Mr Gates set up the foundation with his wife Melinda in 2000.

Its broad, philanthropic aims include improving people's health in developing countries to help lift them out of poverty.

The software visionary was listed this year in business magazine Forbes as the world's richest person with a net worth of $40bn (around £27bn).

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