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Proposals Sought for Innovative Global Health Research - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

First round of Grand Challenges Explorations to support bold, unconventional ideas to fight infectious diseases

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: 206.709.3400

SEATTLE -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that beginning March 31, 2008, it will accept grant proposals for the first funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, a new $100 million initiative to help scientists across the globe pursue ideas that have never before been tested for solving major health problems. The four topics for the first funding round were also announced.

Initial grants through the Explorations initiative will be $100,000 each, and projects showing success will have the opportunity to receive additional funding of $1 million or more. The initiative will use an agile, accelerated grant-making process—applications will be two pages, and preliminary data are not required. The foundation will select and award grants within approximately three months from the proposal submission deadline of May 30, 2008.

"Breakthrough ideas can come from anywhere, and we hope this new process will encourage a broad range of scientists from around the world to bring their ideas to the table," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program.  "We're especially interested in reaching people who work outside the field of global health, innovators in the developing world, and young investigators."

Grand Challenges Explorations is an expansion of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which was launched in 2003 to spur the discovery of new technologies to improve global health. The Explorations initiative focuses on research areas where creative, unorthodox thinking is most urgently needed.

Topics for First Funding Round

The first funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations will consider proposals in four topic areas:

  • Creating new ways to protect against infectious diseases: Untried or unproven approaches to protect against infectious diseases, including harnessing natural or synthetic immune responses, or eliminating the need for an effective immune response.

  • Creating drugs or delivery systems that limit the emergence of resistance: Innovative ideas for discovering or delivering drugs that are less likely to lose effectiveness because of resistance developing in the disease-causing agent.

  • Creating new ways to prevent or cure HIV infection: Innovative ideas for HIV prevention or treatment methods that fall outside current research on vaccines, antiretroviral drugs, and other biomedical and behavior-change strategies.

  • Exploring the basis for latency in TB: Unconventional approaches to understanding latent TB infection, with the goal of discovering new ways to identify and eliminate latent infection, and break the cycle of TB transmission.

Grant proposals for the first Explorations funding round will be accepted online at Grand Challenges Explorations from March 31 through May 30, 2008; applicants must register intent to submit a proposal by May 15, 2008.

Once the first Explorations funding round is complete, the foundation will announce subsequent funding rounds. Topics may vary over time, to cover a range of priorities in global health research.

Full descriptions of the initial topic areas and application instructions are available at

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