A Christchurch-based microbiologist is heading the international fight to prevent childhood pneumonia.
Professor David Murdoch is helping to oversee the world's biggest study into the acute respiratory infection - which is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.
"The focus of the study is to determine the cause of pneumonia in severely ill children," Murdoch said.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, up to 10,000 young pneumonia patients from seven Asian and African nations are being studied as part of the project.
Murdoch is in charge of special purpose-built laboratories in each of the seven countries.
"There is a lot of pneumonia occurring throughout the world, without a lot of information on what the actual causes are," he said.
The expectation is that the research will reveal previously unknown viruses and bacteria, which will consequent in the development of a targeted treatment.
The project is estimated to cost $50 million.