Gates Foundation Awards $6.5 Million for Innovative Global Health Projects

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced sixty-five grants totaling $6.5 million to researchers from sixteen countries working on innovative projects that address global health issues.

Representing the fifth round of the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, the $100,000 grants are designed to encourage scientists to pursue bold ideas that lead to breakthroughs in global public health, with a focus on the prevention and diagnosis of infectious disease and the promotion of family health. Through its first five funding rounds, the Grand Challenges initiative has awarded grants to more than four hundred researchers in thirty-four countries.

Projects receiving support in this funding round include efforts to develop a synthetic lymph node to deliver vaccines; create a low cost needle-free treatment for post-partum bleeding; and make a mobile phone-based tool that combines diagnostic testing with economic incentives to improve drug compliance. The Explorations initiative is the second-generation version of the foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health program, which launched in 2003.

Last week, at the final Grand Challenges conference in Seattle, the foundation announced that it planned to scale back its "mega-philanthropy" approach to solving the world's most vexing health programs and would instead focus on supporting technologies with the biggest health payoffs and near-term applications, the Seattle Times reported.

"We've changed the way we work," said Gates Foundation global health director Tachi Yamada. "In the very earliest days...[w]e were giving away money as fast as we could....Now we're trying to be more strategic."