Professor James Beeson (front, second from left) with his lab including Dr Damien Drew (back, far right).
The Burnet Institute announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Professor James Beeson, Head of Centre for Immunology and Dr Damien Drew, Senior Postdoctoral Research Officer, at the Burnet Institute will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled Novel platform to accelerate vaccine development against Plasmodium vivax malaria.
Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.
Professor Beeson and Dr Drew’s project is one of over 100 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Grand Challenges Explorations encourages individuals worldwide to expand the pipeline of ideas where creative, unorthodox thinking is most urgently needed,” said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We’re excited to provide additional funding for select grantees so that they can continue to advance their idea towards global impact.”
To receive funding, Professor Beeson and Dr Drew with other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, immunization and nutrition.
Applications for the current open round, Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9, will be accepted through May 15, 2012.
Professor Beeson and Dr Drew’s novel approach should accelerate the development of vaccines against Plasmodium vivax, which is one of the two main causes of malaria in humans.
“Malaria caused by P. vivax is a major global health problem, particularly in Asia and the Pacific region with around 2.5 billion people at risk globally,” Professor Beeson said.
“Our project aims to develop vaccines that block the infection of red blood cells by P. vivax, protecting people against this form of malaria. We will use a novel approach to overcome a major roadblock and enable the identification and testing of candidate vaccines.”
About Grand Challenges Explorations
Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 600 people in 45 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.