OSP FO# 11-047

AGENCY: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

PROGRAM: Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative

OBJECTIVES: The Grand Challenges Explorations program provides funding to foster early-stage innovation in global health research and expand the pipeline of ideas that merit further exploration. The Explorations initiative will support hundreds of early-stage research projects—many pursuing ideas that have never before been tested and involving scientists from a wide range of disciplines and regions. The initiative will focus on rapidly evaluating a large number of innovative ideas that could lead to new vaccines, diagnostics, drugs, and other technologies targeting diseases that claim millions of lives every year or new approaches to filling critical gaps in knowledge. Key features of the initiative include a short application (no more than two pages in length) and a rapid turn-around time from submission to award. The Foundation will be willing to take significant risks, reviewing for novel ideas that show great promise. The review process will not be based on consensus and will feature reviewers with a track record of identifying innovative ideas.

Each round of the initiative will award grants against a set of specific topics. Proposals must represent an innovative approach responsive to the topic. The Foundation seeks proposals “off the beaten track,” significantly radical in conception, and daring in premise. For Round 7, the topics are:

(1) Design New Approaches to Cure HIV Infection—The goal of this topic is to solicit new approaches to curing HIV infection in patients in whom a latent reservoir has already been established. Elimination of all reservoirs of HIV from a patient is a complex challenge that may require a combination of approaches. Consideration will be given to proposals that address any of the several different lines of study that could ultimately contribute to an effective cure.

(2) Create the Next Generation of Sanitation Technologies—The goal of this topic is to find affordable, effective, and hygienic sanitation technologies that can improve the quality of sanitation services for the billions of people currently using non-piped sanitation systems. We are specifically seeking proposals for technologies that address:

-  unhygienic and inadequate pit/tank emptying and extraction;

-  recovery of energy from communities’ fecal sludge;

-  inappropriate sanitation solutions for areas challenged by an abundance of water (e.g. communities that face seasonal flooding, high groundwater tables, riparian or tidal communities, etc.); and

-  easy to clean, attractive and affordable latrine pan/squatting platform technologies that enhance latrines.

Proposed ideas must ultimately be designed for low income urban settings such as slums, informal and formal peri-urban settings, or dense rural settings in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where demand for fecal sludge emptying and treatment are high.

(3) The Poliovirus Endgame: Create Ways to Accelerate, Sustain and Monitor Eradication—The goal of this topic is to solicit innovative approaches to address the following roadblocks:

-  Oral poliovirus vaccines (OPV) and other orally administered enteric vaccines have shown reduced efficacy in children living in certain resource-poor environments.

-  The interactions between OPV, live attenuated rotavirus vaccines, and other enteric vaccines are unclear. In particular, the existence, extent and potential mechanisms of vaccine interference are poorly characterized; and whether protection from diarrheal disease by rotavirus vaccine can enhance OPV efficacy is uncertain.

-  Paralytic poliomyelitis incidence currently serves as a surrogate measure for the circulation of wild poliovirus in a region. However, as eradication nears the signal provided by paralytic disease will be eventually lost; new methods to monitor poliovirus circulation are increasingly necessary.

-  Improvements in water and sanitation infrastructure are considered to be effective interventions for reducing poliovirus transmission; however, the true impact and relative importance of these measures in limiting transmission remain unclear.

(4) Create Low-Cost Cell Phone-Based Solutions for Improved Uptake and Coverage of Childhood Vaccinations—The goal of this topic is to solicit innovative approaches to improve vaccine delivery through:

-  positively identifying an individual infant/child for developing world vaccination programs;

-  rapidly determining the immune status of an infant/child at the point of vaccination;

-  connecting vaccine availability with target populations.

(5) Explore Nutrition for Healthy Growth of Infants and Children—The goal of this topic is to solicit new scientific understanding and new science-based preventative and therapeutic approaches to improve nutrition and promote the healthy growth and development of infants and young children. We strongly encourage investigating the mechanisms of action of nutritional deficiencies and interventions, since this will facilitate developing tests to measure nutritional status and to measure treatment outcomes, including discriminating responders from non-responders in population studies.

(6) Apply Synthetic Biology to Global Health Challenges—The goal of this topic is to examine the potential for synthetic biology to contribute novel and radical approaches to generating new global health solutions. We wish to encourage researchers to harness these emerging tools for the goals of global health, and to support innovation in this emerging field that can be brought to bear on the needs of the developing world. Proposals must closely align with one or more of the foundation’s Global Health priority areas: malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, pneumonia, enteric disease & diarrhea, maternal neonatal & child health, nutrition, polio, and/or family planning.

ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS: The Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative will publish topics and invite proposals twice a year, in two separate rounds. Each round, Principal Investigators (PIs) must select only one of the topics under which to submit and may submit only one proposal. An individual PI may lead the submission of only one proposal each round, although he or she may submit multiple ideas in partnership with collaborators.

DEADLINES: May 19, 2011 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time

FUNDING INFORMATION: A Phase I grant of $100,000 will be awarded with an opportunity for successful projects to receive a follow-on Phase II grant of $1 million. The Foundation anticipates funding approximately sixty awards each round.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Grand Challenges in Global Health
PO Box 23350
Seattle, WA 98102
Phone: (206) 709-3400
Email: grandchallenges@gatesfoundation.org
Web: http://www.grandchallenges.org/explorations/Pages/Introduction.aspx

REMARKS: Applications must be submitted online through https://gce.gatesfoundation.org/_layouts/GCE/Pages/login.aspx and will be no more than 2 pages in length (11 point type). Applicants are required to create an account and register for a topic. After registration is complete, an on-line application can be created according to the instructions included in the program guidelines. Proposals must be submitted prior to the submission deadline on May 19, 2011.

Complete program guidelines and application material can be obtained from the web site listed above or from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). Please distribute this notice to any faculty or staff members who might be interested in the information. For more information, please contact the OSP at X3-4365 or ospinfo@bu.edu, or visit the OSP web site at http://www.bu.edu/osp.