US: Gates backs 81 unconventional research projects

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last week announced 81 grants of US$100,000 each to explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries, reports News Blaze. The grants were awarded to researchers in 17 countries through the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, which aims to develop a pipeline of creative ideas that could change the face of global heath.

The projects focus on novel approaches to prevent and treat infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases. The first round of 104 Grand Challenges Explorations grants was announced in October 2008. The 81 funded researchers 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.

"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 Dr Tachi Yamada, President of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Programme. "Grand Challenges Explorations is our way to help inspire the bold ideas that could one day help transform global health."
Full report on the News Blaze site