Health in the future: smartphone malaria diagnostic, male contraception, laser vaccines

On May 10, 78 researchers were awarded grants of $100,000 (€78,880) for their innovative global health solutions. This marked the fourth round of Grand Challenges Explorations, a five-year $100 million (€78 million) initiative to promote innovation in global health funded by the Gates Foundation that began in 2008.

The 78 grants awarded will support research in 18 countries across six continents ranging from vaccines to headscarves and successful innovations can receive extra funding exceeding a million dollars (€788,677). Applications are accepted and awarded biannually in May and October.

Tachi Yamada, MD, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program, said, "Grand Challenges Explorations continues to generate unique and creative ways to tackle global health issues. We are convinced that some of these ideas will lead to new innovations and eventually solutions that will save lives."

Here is a selection of the grantees:

More effective vaccines

 - Sweat-triggered vaccine delivery: Carlos Alberto Guzman of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany with Claus-Michael Lehr and Steffi Hansen of the Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research

 - A "seek-and-destroy" laser vaccine: Owain Millington and Gail McConnell of University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

 - Treating worm infections to improve vaccine effectiveness: Susanne Nylén Spoormaker of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden

New strategies to fight malaria

 - Insecticide-treated traditional scarves: David Sintasath of the Malaria Consortium, Thailand

 - Using carnivorous plants to control mosquitoes: Jasper Ogwal-Okeng of Makerere University, Uganda

 - Cell phone microscope to diagnose malaria: Aydogan Ozcan of the University of California, Los Angeles, US

Solutions to promote family health

 - Ultrasound as a reversible male contraceptive: James Tsuruta and Paul Dayton of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, US

 - Vitamin A probiotics to combat diarrhea: Douglas Watson and colleagues of SRI International

Applications for the next (fifth) round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through May 19 (grantees to be announced in October) and the topics include:
 - Low-Cost Cell Phone-Based Applications for Priority Global Health Conditions
 - New Technologies to Improve the Health of Mothers and Newborns
 - New Ways to Protect Against Infectious Disease
 - New Technologies for Contraception

If you would like to apply and learn more about the Grand Challenges Explorations, go to: www.grandchallenges.org.

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