Today we are excited to announce the new cohort of 56 Grand
Challenges Explorations Phase I winners. The Grand Challenges Explorations
(GCE) initiative is based on the principle that great ideas can come from anywhere.
Twice each year, GCE invites high-risk, high-reward
proposals on a range of challenges, and the program is open to anyone from any
discipline, from student to tenured professor, and from any organization,
including colleges and universities, government laboratories, research
institutions, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies.
In this 17th round of GCE, the awardees were
selected from over 1400 applications from 98 countries in our request for
proposals against six specific challenges. Two topics focused family planning:
the topic Assess
Family Planning Needs, Preferences and Behaviors to Inform Innovations in
Contraceptive Technologies and Services sought ideas to generate new
knowledge and evidence around family planning needs, preference, and behaviors
among users and non-users, and the topic Develop
Novel Platforms to Accelerate Contraceptive Drug Discovery sought new ideas
to address the existing barriers around contraceptive drug discovery – not
seeking new drugs, but rather new tools and platforms to aid in drug discovery.
Similarly, the topic Accelerate
Development of New Therapies for Childhood Cryptosporidium Infection sought
new ideas for technologies and tools to facilitate working with
Cryptosporidium, a parasite that is a major cause of diarrhea, to support the
development of new therapeutics. The Design
New Analytics Approaches for Malaria Elimination sought to rethink malaria
surveillance with a focus on new solutions to address data availability and
decision-making for malaria elimination. In addition, two topics repeated from
the previous round sought Novel
Approaches to Characterizing and Tracking the Global Burden of Antimicrobial Resistance
and to Explore
New Solutions in Global Health Priority Areas. A few of the 56 projects from 11 countries we are announcing today
Two game-based ideas to better understand family
Elmar Stroomer of Design without Borders Uganda
Ltd. in Uganda will develop an interactive game combining methods from
game-based learning to collect data on decisions made around family planning in
Elena Bertozzi of Quinnipiac University and
Aparna Sridhar from UCLA School of Medicine in the U.S. will design a game-like
tool to identify cultural norms that influence future family planning decisions
in adolescent school children in Karnataka, India, to help improve
Marcos Barreto of Universidade Federal da Bahia
in Brazil will build a platform that routinely integrates surveillance data
from malaria with socioeconomic and health care data, and also provides open
access and support for data analysis.
Kevin Osteen of Vanderbilt University Medical
Center in the U.S. will develop a three-dimensional cell model that mimics the
interior of the human uterus (endometrium), which consists of several different
cell types and a vascular system, that can be used to discover new
contraceptives and therapeutics.
Xun Suo of China Agricultural University in
China will develop a rabbit model of cryptosporidiosis that mimics the human
disease, which presents as severe diarrhea particularly in young children, to
help identify new treatments.
Gautam Dantas of Washington University in the
U.S. will measure the effect of the routine use of antibiotics to treat severe
malnutrition or to minimize the risk of HIV infection in young children, on the
bacterial populations and antimicrobial resistance genes in the gut.
Rebecca Traub of the University of Melbourne in
Australia will develop a method to preserve fresh stool so that it can be
transported over longer distances to central laboratories and used to diagnose
intestinal parasites and monitor the different types.
For the full list, please visit the Grand Challenges website.
These partners, like all GCE partners, are selected as part
of a blinded and champion-based review process for the potentially
transformative ideas they present. GCE Phase I awards receive $100,000 USD and
18 months to test out the idea proposed and ideally achieve proof of concept.
Successful Phase I projects that maintain the innovative focus and are
strategically aligned with the foundation’s goals may receive Phase II funding.
Today, we are also thrilled to highlight two GCE Phase II grantees who have
received additional funding to continue work on their great ideas. A list of
all GCE Phase I grants receiving follow-on funding can be found here.
Gorkin of the University of Wollongong in Australia will continue work on the
development and testing of tough hydrogels as an alternative material to latex
for making male condoms with enhanced tactile (touch) sensitivity to improve
Tarr of Washington University in the U.S. will optimize and evaluate the method
he developed to evaluate gut permeability by measuring levels of ingested
fluorescent molecules non-invasively through the skin.
Please join us in congratulating the 56 GCE Phase I winners
along with those who recently received follow-on funding! We wish them success
in their endeavors to solve tough challenges in global health and development.
Applications for the next round of Grand Challenges Explorations
will be accepted beginning in February 2017. To receive email updates with the
latest grant opportunities for the Grand Challenges family of programs, sign-up