Grand Challenges: Explorations Round 9 Funding

Grand Challenges: Explorations Round 9

The Gates Foundation supports the Grand Challenges Explorations to reward innovative ideas in global health.


Funding Amount: $100,000 total for 18 months   


Deadline: May. 15, 2012


Who Can Apply: The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline, from student to tenured professor, and from any organization – colleges and universities, government laboratories, research institutions, non-profit organizations (NGO) and for-profit companies.


The Grand Challenges: Explorations program fosters innovation in global health research in specific topics. In general, topics are chosen according to three major criteria:


1. The topic fits within the goals and disease priorities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


2. The topic contains a roadblock where radical, new thinking is needed for the discovery of an effective health solution


Potential projects within the topic are likely to be well suited for the phased structure of the initiative


Round 9 seeks applications for the following topics:


1. New Approaches for the Interrogation of Anti-malarial Compounds

The goal of this topic is to support unconventional and radically new approaches, methods, and assays to analyze, characterize, and prioritize anti-malarial compounds and to glean more information required for the development of next generation malaria drugs. Researchers are encouraged to develop and apply innovative biological, chemical, computational, and systems-based approaches for the interrogation of anti-malarial compounds to maximize knowledge gained from the publicly-available anti-malarial compound set, and facilitate compound selection and development. MMV will make available to successful applicants the Malaria Box, and for those projects that demonstrate a critical need to analyze a more extensive compound set, GlaxoSmithKline will make available the 13,500 compounds that comprise the Tres Cantos Anti-Malarial Set (TCAMS). Recipients of these compound collections are required to make publicly available the results of their research.


2. Aid is working. Tell the World

The goal of this challenge is to solicit new approaches to communications that motivate the public in the wealthy countries of the world to change their minds about aid, and take actions to demonstrate their support. The Gates Foundation wants to find revolutionary ways to make these issues matter deeply to the global community and game-changing ideas that could revolutionize the field.


3. Explore New Solutions for Global Health Priority Areas

The Global Health Program aims to create and improve preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic interventions for infectious diseases and conditions affecting maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition. The Gates Foundation does this by identifying and filling gaps in knowledge that limit our progress on the critical path to health solutions; by creating new technology platforms that can accelerate research in support of our goals or enable products suited to resource-poor settings; and by investing in transformative ideas to help solve tough global health challenges.


This topic is focused on:

1.  Solutions applying to global health priority areas: malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, pneumonia, enteric disease & diarrhea, polio, maternal and neonatal health, and/or family planning;

2.     Revolutionary new technologies or improvements upon current technologies;

3.   Low-cost solutions: Interventions that are targeted for populations with individuals living on less than $1 per day, deliverable, and scalable in low- and middle-income countries;

4.    Projects with clear and testable scientific plans: Proposals must (i) have a testable hypothesis, (ii) include an associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated, and (iii) yield interpretable and unambiguous data in Phase I, in order to be considered for Phase II funding


Applications utilizing one or more of the following approaches are highly encouraged.

1.   Intersections between any of the past Grand Challenges Explorations topics (e.g., nutrition for vaccine efficacy; new ways to induce mucosal immunity to protect neonates);

2.    Applying existent knowledge or technologies from developed world funding priorities towards new applications focused on our Global Health priorities;

3.     Cross-disciplinary approaches that engage technical disciplines which are less represented in the global health arena.


4. Design New Approaches to Optimize Immunization Systems

This topic aims to generate novel approaches to optimizing the performance of immunization logistics and supply systems in low-resource settings. Applicants are encouraged to re-examine the systems trusted with delivering vaccines and design innovative solutions to optimize the performance of these systems, both today and in the future. The Gates Foundation seeks proposals that are responsive to the topic that are daring in premise and clearly different from the approaches currently under investigation or employed. The solutions submitted to this topic must be focused on the operational aspects of immunization systems in countries, and must have the potential to be scaled up or reproduced in multiple settings. Proposed ideas must ultimately be translatable to practical interventions accessible in resource-limited settings.


Applications to address one or more of the following gap areas are encouraged.

1.     Vaccine Product Characteristics

2.     Supply System Design

3.     Environmental Impact

4.     Information Systems

5.     Human Resources

6.     Vaccine Acceptance


5. Protect Crop Plants from Biotic Stresses from Field to Market

The aim of this topic is to solicit transformative solutions to the pest and pathogen pressures faced by smallholder farmers in developing countries. Researchers and entrepreneurs are encouraged to harness the emerging information and tools in biology and engineering for the goals of agricultural development, to generate ideas that will revolutionize current approaches to crop protection by focusing on the plant, the pests, pathogens, weeds, and/or their interactions.

To be considered, proposals must closely align with the goals of the foundation's Agricultural Development team. As such, we are looking for proposals that:

1.     Offer an innovative and transformative solution to protect crop plants from biotic stresses;

2.     Substantially increase the sustainable productivity of smallholder farmers in developing countries within the next 10-20 years;

3.     Offer potential for dramatic cost reductions or increases in efficiency compared to currently available crop protection strategies;

4.     Have potential applicability to one or more of the following crops: maize, wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, beans, cowpeas, chickpeas, and groundnuts;

5.     Target a specific or set of specific biotic stresses;

6.     Convey a clear and testable hypothesis.


To apply for it, visit to foundation website.

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