College officials said the grants will support the development of TB drugs that are more effective than current treatment options.
The researchers noted even the best available TB drugs require difficult and lengthy regimens and are increasingly losing their effectiveness; last year there were more than 400,000 cases of drug-resistant TB. In addition, researchers said there is a need for faster-acting TB drugs since current medications must be taken for at least six months to be fully effective.
"These grants support research focused on testing many existing chemical compounds for their potential ability to kill or interfere with the organism that causes TB," said Dr. Carl Nathan, chairman of Weill Cornell's department of microbiology and immunology. "Finding those effective compounds may also mean more effective therapies for the emerging drug-resistant forms of TB."
The Weill Cornell grants are two of 11 totaling $280 million awarded by the Gates Foundation to speed research and development of promising tuberculosis vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments.