Bill Gates Creates $100 Million Grant for New Health Ideas

By admin

Originally published on Advocate.com March 07 2008 12:00 AM ET

If you have an
unorthodox, unproven idea that can prevent HIV infection
or help protect against infectious diseases, one of the
richest men in the world wants to hear from you.

The Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation has set aside $100 million to
encourage innovation in global health research, offering
grants to those with innovative ideas on four topics:
tuberculosis, HIV, infectious diseases, and drug
resistance.

The foundation's
new Grand Challenges Explorations program plans to give
$100,000 each to about 60 projects in the first round of
what is expected to be a five-year program.

Proposal
applications are short -- only about two pages long -- and
preliminary data is not required for the applications due at
the end of May. They'll be accepted beginning March
31.

Of course, each
applicant will need to be a scientist and have a lab in
which to do the work, foundation officials said. But there
won't be many more restrictions.

Foundation
officials say it's one of the most open-ended requests for
proposals they've ever issued, but it fits well with the
organization's quest to be innovative.

''We push
ourselves to be as creative as we can,'' said Martha Choe,
who is slated to become the foundation's new chief
administrative officer.

The foundation
has no plans to open the door to unorthodox ideas for its
other focus areas -- global development, libraries,
education, and support for children and families in
the Pacific Northwest -- although unsolicited grant
requests arrive in the mail daily.

The world's
largest philanthropy, which was established by Bill Gates,
the cofounder of Microsoft, paid out 1,322 grants totaling
more than $2 billion in 2007, compared to 1,283 grants
totaling more than $1.54 billion in 2006.

The Grand
Challenges Explorations program is an outgrowth of an effort
launched by the foundation in 2003 to help foster innovation
in global health discovery.

The foundation is
already spending about $450 million to support 40
bigger projects focused on preventing infectious diseases,
creating drugs or delivery systems that limit
resistance, creating new ways to prevent or cure HIV
infection, and understanding latent tuberculosis infection.

The smaller
grants announced this week will focus on the same research
areas. The foundation expects to make several requests for
proposals each year, officials said. (Donna Gordon
Blankinship, AP)