updated 5/16/2005 2:58:41 PM ET 2005-05-16T18:58:41

Bill Gates said he is using the same strategy that succeeded in building Microsoft Corp. to tackle his latest challenge — fighting AIDS, malaria and other deadly diseases around the world.

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The featured speaker at the World Health Organization’s annual assembly, Gates told the 192-nation body he was adding another $250 million — for a total of $450 million — to one of his projects: getting “the world’s top scientific minds to take on the world’s deadliest diseases.”

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Gates told The Associated Press that using great minds was part of the approach he has used in building Microsoft.

“The idea of hiring very smart people and getting them to take on very optimistic goals and finding partners and believing in science — that’s very similar to the work I do at Microsoft,” he said.

“Of course, it’s different, but a lot of elements of what you need to bring together are very much the same. It’s the same idea as creating things that are going to have to be extremely low cost, but that can benefit millions and millions of people.”

The foundation Gates runs with his wife already has given more than $4 billion to efforts to combat disease. The new money is for a special project, Grand Challenges in Global Health, involving leading scientists.

Scientists from more than 80 countries sent in thousands of pages of ideas, he said. Ideas included vaccines that don’t need refrigeration, easy-to-use devices to detect life-threatening fevers and drugs that attack diseases hiding from the immune system.

“We were so taken with the response that we increased our commitment to this research,” Gates told the assembly.

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