Gates Foundation Awards $7.6 Million to Fund Novel Ideas to Improve Global Health

Gates Foundation Awards $7.6 Million to Fund Novel Ideas to Improve Global Health

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced grants of $100,000 to 76 researchers with unconventional ideas for transforming public health in developing countries.

Awarded through the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, the five-year grants are designed to encourage scientists to pursue bold ideas that lead to breakthroughs in global public health, with a focus on ways to prevent and treat infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and diarrheal diseases.

Newly funded projects include efforts to develop a paper cup that turns tuberculosis-positive sputum samples a bright orange; using a peptide found in scorpions to block development of the malaria parasite; and adapting a protein that parasites use to seal their egg cases as a "sticky coating" for intranasal vaccines. Other projects receiving support include the development of an "electric nose" to diagnose tuberculosis; using a compound found in chocolate to keep malaria at bay; and developing a chewing gum to detect malaria biomarkers in saliva. Through its first three funding rounds, the initiative has awarded grants to 262 researchers in thirty countries.

"Some of the biggest stumbling blocks in global health are now being overcome with promising new vaccines and treatments," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. "Grand Challenges Explorations will continue to fill the pipeline with possibilities and hopefully produce a breakthrough idea that could save untold numbers of lives."

For a complete list of third-round grantees, visit the foundation's Web site.

"Gates Foundation Grants Support Unusual Research." New York Times 10/20/2009. "Gates Foundation Funds 76 New Ideas to Improve Global Health, From Chewing Gum to Chocolate." Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Press Release 10/20/2009.