Gates Foundation Awards Grants to “Unconventional” Global Health Initiatives

On May 4, 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced grants of $100,000 to 81 unconventional global health initiatives as part of the Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations initiative.

These “bold” and “unproven” global health research projects have the goal of improving health in developing countries. The projects focus on the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and diarrheal diseases.  The grants were awarded to researchers in 17 countries.

2009 winners included:

  • Luke Savage and Dave Newman of the University of Exeter in the U.K. will attempt to build an inexpensive, battery-powered instrument to diagnose malaria by using magnets to detect the waste products of the malaria parasite in human blood samples.
  • Boitumelo Semete at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa will attempt to develop “sticky nanoparticles” that attach to tuberculosis-infected cells and slowly release anti-TB drugs. The new therapy could shorten treatment time and reduce side effects, using existing medications.
  • Eric Lam at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in the U.S. will work to develop a tomato that delivers antiviral drugs when eaten.

Applicants were selected from more than 3,000 proposals in the second round.  The first round of 104 Grand Challenges Explorations grants was announced in October 2008.

If you have a bold or innovative global health research proposal and you think you have what it takes, the Gates Foundation is accepting applications for Round 3 of Grand Challenges Explorations through May 28, 2009.

Round 3 topics include:

  • Create Low-Cost Diagnostics for Priority Global Health Conditions
  • Create New Ways to Induce Mucosal Immunity
  • Create New Vaccines for Diarrhea, HIV, Malaria, Pneumonia and Tuberculosis
  • Create New Tools to Accelerate the Eradication of Malaria


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