Gates Foundation Awards $8.1 Million for Unconventional Global Health Research Projects

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced eighty-one grants of $100,000 each to scientists from seventeen countries for projects that explore ways to improve health in developing countries, with a focus on novel approaches to prevent and treat infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and diarrheal diseases.

The grants are part of the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, which is designed to develop a pipeline of creative ideas that could change the face of global health. Last October, the foundation announced its first round of Grand Challenges Explorations grants, awarding $10.4 million.

The projects will explore a wide range of new ideas, including giving mosquitoes a "head cold" to prevent them from detecting and biting humans, developing a tomato to deliver antiviral drugs, and using a laser to >enhance the effect of vaccines. Other projects include the development of an inexpensive, battery-powered instrument to diagnose malaria by using magnets to detect the waste products of the malaria parasite in human blood samples; a network of outdoor mosquito traps to help reduce malaria transmission in rural areas; and a test of whether protein crystals produced by insect viruses can be used as a new way to deliver vaccines.

"Investments in global health research are already paying big dividends. An incredible number of new vaccines, drugs, and other tools are becoming available to improve health in developing countries," said Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. "Grand Challenges Explorations is our way to help inspire the bold ideas that could one day help transform global health."

"Foundation Invests in 81 Unconventional Global Health Research Projects." Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Press Release 05/04/2009.