Gates Foundation Awards 88 New Grand Challenges Grants

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday announced 88 new $100,000 grants for “unusual” global health research projects, the Associated Press reports (Blankinship, 4/28).

“The funding, made possible through the Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) program, will enable researchers worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges,” according to a Gates Foundation press release (4/28).

The foundation received around 2,500 applications for the grants from scientists in about 100 countries, Xconomy reports. “This is our most innovation-seeking, high-risk program that really tries to get new paradigmatic ideas,” said Chris Wilson, director of global health discovery at the Gates Foundation. “Most of these ideas will not succeed, but even if a tiny fraction does succeed, and really does something different, it could have an impact,” he said (Timmerman, 4/28).

Grant recipients include a “Harvard University project to harness dirt to charge cell phones in rural Africa” and a University of California, San Francisco, project that aims “to create a smart diaphragm for detecting preterm labor. A number of other projects focus on improving the efficiency of polio vaccines, a special focus on this round of grants,” the AP writes (4/28). The press release highlights other grant winners (4/28).