Infectious disease

Wellcome is focusing on preventing and stopping future escalations of infectious diseases.

Why we're taking on infectious disease  

Infectious diseases are estimated to cause around a quarter of all deaths in the world and the risk of new pathogens emerging and escaping out of control is rising.   

Science has created vaccines, drugs, diagnostics and other measures to contain many infectious diseases but global connectivity, climate change and the over-use of antibiotics are putting more people at risk. 

Acting as early as possible in an outbreak – or even before an infection starts to escalate – is the most effective way to prevent illness and save the most lives. But the Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that the impacts of infectious disease are not felt equally, and that existing structures and systems limit global access to solutions. 

We’re working alongside people in areas that are disproportionately affected and most vulnerable to future threats. Our work will bring together our diverse expertise across science, innovation and society to prevent the most illness and save the most lives.

"Our ambition is to ensure the world is protected against different types of infectious disease, and the threat of disease escalation now and in the future."

A photograph of the person, Gordon Dougan.

Gordon Dougan

Director, Infectious Disease (Interim) 


What we're doing 

Over the next 30 years, we want to prevent and stop future escalations of infectious diseases.

To understand what causes outbreaks and drives their escalation, we will support research into infectious diseases that are already on the rise and those with the potential to become future outbreaks. We will focus on communities at greater risk, ensuring sustainability and equity are considered throughout.

Our work will also inform how infectious diseases are mapped and measured to better predict outbreaks and intervene earlier. 

Wellcome also funds discovery research into a broad range of disciplines, including infectious diseases. Insights and tools from this research will contribute to solving this health challenge, as well as increasing broader understanding of life, health and wellbeing.

Funded CEPI

the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations – to help fill critical gaps in vaccine funding and research

Funded CARB-X

to accelerate research and development for products against antimicrobial resistant pathogens including antibiotics, vaccines and diagnostics.

£50m investment

in the AMR Action Fund to advance new antibiotics to the market by filling the investment gap in the antibiotics pipeline.

Research funding opportunities 

To help deliver our vision across three key health challenges, we support research through a combination of open calls and direct funding approaches.  

We work with and fund a diverse group of people who can bring innovative and creative insights to these urgent health challenges. 

This page will be updated regularly with the latest infectious disease funding information and the opportunities we have available for discovery research.

Digital Technology Development Awards (Climate-Sensitive Infectious Disease Modelling)

Develop digital tools that will catalyse the next generation of climate-sensitive infectious diseases research. 

Covid-19: understanding the biological significance of SARS-CoV-2 variants

Research the biological significance of SARS-CoV-2 variants, through laboratory investigations in immunology, virology or structural biology.

A girl carries water for her family, in a remote village in West Bengal, India.

Wellcome’s ambitions for 2022 and beyond

Cheryl Moore, Director of Research Programmes, shares how Wellcome plans to spend £16 billion over the next ten years to advance scientific discovery and take on the world’s most pressing health issues.

What we've done so far 

Effective research and coordinated action can stop infectious diseases from spiralling into global health emergencies. Wellcome has led the research response to Covid-19, as we did for Ebola outbreaks in 2014 and 2018, and advocated for policies built on scientific evidence.

Our team 

See who's in our infectious disease team.

Latest report 

Latest news and opinions 

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