AddThis ShareCONTACT: Mike WilliamsPHONE: 713-348-6728 E-MAIL: [email protected] Rice University receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant for innovative global health researchRice University announced today that it has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support an innovative global health research project conducted by the lab of Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice’s Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and director of Rice 360˚: Institute for Global Health Technologies. The project supported by the grant is titled “Reagent-Free, Needle-free Microscopy for Malaria Diagnosis.”Richards-Kortum’s project is one of 76 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the third funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. The grants were provided to scientists in 16 countries on five continents. To receive funding, Richards-Kortum showed in a two-page application how her idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, as evidenced by almost 3,000 proposals received in this round. Currently, detecting malaria generally means taking a patient’s blood, staining it and analyzing it under a microscope to see if the person is infected. The Rice technique would require no taking of blood, would produce no waste and wouldn’t require trained personnel to either administer the test or read results. One version of the proposed portable device would clip to a patient’s finger and peer through the skin at superficial blood vessels. It would light up red and white blood cells flowing through the vessels, read and analyze light reflected back and immediately deliver a diagnosis. Another version would look for a way to image blood vessels in the eye.“It would be extraordinary to have a pulse oximeter-type device for detecting malaria, but it’s an enormous challenge,” Richards-Kortum said. Such a device would pay great dividends, though. She estimated it could be built for less than $100, which would make the tests essentially free.“The winners of these grants show the bold thinking we need to tackle some of the world’s greatest health challenges,” said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. “I’m excited about their ideas and look forward to seeing some of these exploratory projects turn into life-saving breakthroughs.” About Grand Challenges ExplorationsGrand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote innovation in global health. The program uses an agile, streamlined grant process – applications are limited to two pages, and preliminary data are not required. Proposals are reviewed and selected by a committee of foundation staff and external experts, and grant decisions are made within approximately three months of the close of the funding round.Applications for the current round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through Nov. 2. Grant application instructions, including the list of topics for which proposals are currently being accepted, are available at http://www.grandchallenges.org/explorations.