Gates Foundation's latest giveaway: $279 million

Melinda Gates: We need 'more diverse teams'
Melinda Gates: We need 'more diverse teams'

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just wrote a $279 million check to a University of Washington project that tracks health and cause-of-death data around the world.

The donation is one of the largest ever for the Gates Foundation, and it's the largest private donation in the university's history, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

The money is going to UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which "provides rigorous measurement and analysis of the world's most prevalent and costly health problems and evaluates strategies to address them."

"You've maybe never heard of the IHME, but it has been a game-changer in global health," Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellman said in a blog post Wednesday. "Before the IHME began its work a decade ago, data on global health trends were typically inconsistent and thus not especially reliable."

The group's research helps the organization identify what the world's most pressing health-related issues are.

gates foundation donation
Melinda and Bill Gates

"Our foundation is among many organizations that have benefited hugely from the IHME's insights as we decide where we can have the greatest impact," Desmond-Hellman said.

The Gates' latest grant will provide funding for the institute over the next 10 years.

The University of Washington is no stranger to the foundation's generosity. The Gates, who are Seattle natives, have given more than 250 grants totaling about $1.25 billion to the school.

"We feel lucky that our local university is also on the leading edge of innovation globally, and we are grateful that it has chosen to innovate to help the poorest people in the world," Melinda Gates said in a statement Wednesday.

Bill Gates, the co-found of Microsoft (MSFT), and his wife Melinda have committed to give more than half of their $84 billion fortune away during their lifetimes. Gates and investing powerhouse Warren Buffett launched the Giving Pledge in 2010 to encourage the world's billionaires to boost their philanthropic donations.

Health is one of the Gates Foundation's primary focus areas. The foundation made headlines in 2015 for backing the world's first malaria vaccination.

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