News from TDR Director, John Reeder

TDR news item
23 May 2014

This is an important milestone year for TDR. Forty years ago, the World Health Assembly agreed to create a programme like TDR. So much good has come about from this commitment – from basic science to map the genome of the tsetse fly that carries sleeping sickness, to development of new drugs for leprosy and malaria, and to new strategies that are eliminating diseases like lymphatic filariasis and visceral leishmaniasis. These major achievements have come about through truly committed work by the thousands of scientists supported and mentored by TDR over the years.

You can find out more about our history and the anniversary activities planned this year on our website, and also on the Geneva International Cooperation website, where they interviewed me about TDR’s past as well as current work.

World Health Assembly acknowledgement

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan called attention to TDR in her speech to Member States at the World Health Assembly, praising our work “to find the barriers to access, including costs, in impoverished settings and to break them down.”

"It’s truly inspiring to see how people can take a good idea and a small amount of money and create such positive change."

John Reeder, TDR Director

A stellar panel and standing-room only crowd gathered at the Assembly on Friday, 23 May, to review and discuss two major TDR achievements – helping to change the delivery system of the annual mass treatment for onchocerciasis, the cause of river blindness, into a community-directed process that is now used for 60 million Africans, and working toward the elimination of visceral leishmaniasis in Bangladesh.

Eliminating visceral leishmaniasis

You can find an overview of the coordination between the government in Bangladesh, the World Health Organization and TDR to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis, along with a profile of Dinesh Mondal, who has been using his grant support to truly make a positive difference in his country. The countries of Bangladesh, India and Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the World Health Assembly in 2005 to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis and TDR has been strongly involved, helping to support the research necessary for this final phase.

Dengue fever control

We were also pleased that one of our grantees, Dr Htin Zaw Soe from Myanmar, was awarded a Jacques Parisot Foundation Fellowship at the World Health Assembly. Dr Soe is developing innovative environmentally-friendly vector control tools for the control of dengue haemorrhagic fever. More on this is in our news.


I hope you can find the time to watch the new video on TDR. It shows the impact that specific grantees and programmes have made through their commitments – it’s truly inspiring to see how people can take a good idea and a small amount of money and create such positive change. You can also read profiles of alumni and their work.

If you have a story of impact that you would like to share, please send it to us at We’re going through the stories being sent and hope to share as many as possible during this year.

For more information, please contact

Jamie Guth
TDR Communications Manager
Telephone: +41 79 441 2289