The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced grants totaling more than $21 million through its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative to organizations working to tackle global health and development issues.
Ninety-four projects in nineteen countries were awarded phase I grants of $100,000 each to begin testing their ideas. Grant recipients include Michael Harrison of Deep International Ltd. in Cyprus, who will build an online tool that connects children from developing and developed countries who share a birthday, enabling them to exchange personal stories about how development aid is making a difference; Koen Dechering of TropIQ Health Sciences in the Netherlands, who will develop a high-throughput assay using parasites that emit light as they develop in mosquitos' stomachs to allow easy identification of compounds that block malaria transmission; and Noor Sabah Rakhshani of the Trust for Vaccines and Immunization in Pakistan, who will develop children's ankle bands that change color when children are due for their next vaccination.
The foundation also awarded phase II funding of up to $1 million each to fifteen projects for the development of resources that could contribute to the eradication of malaria. Grant recipients include Filippo Mancia of Columbia University, who is studying the molecular details of how malaria-transmitting mosquitoes use their sense of smell to find humans — research that could help improve insect repellant formulas; Ali Salanti of the University of Copenhagen, who is developing and testing a combined malaria-cervical cancer vaccine that has the potential to protect women against both diseases; and Mark Mescher, Consuelo De Moraes, and Andrew Read of Pennsylvania State University, who are identifying and studying characteristic odors associated with malaria infection — research that could be used to develop a simple diagnostic test for malaria.
"Investments in innovative global health research are already paying off," said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Gates Foundation. "We continue to be impressed by the novelty and innovative spirit of Grand Challenges Explorations projects and are enthusiastic about this exciting research. These investments hold real potential to yield new solutions to improve the health of millions of people in the developing world and ensure that everyone has the chance to live a healthy productive life."
For a complete list of the winning projects, visit the Gates Foundation Web site.