Gates Foundation funding for Burnet diagnostic

Burnet Institute

14 June, 2018

Image: Dr Berhan Haile demonstrates the point-of-care Blood Separator Device

Burnet Institute is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Associate Professor David Anderson will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled, Blood Separator Device.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.

Associate Professor Anderson’s project is one of 35 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 20 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Associate Professor Anderson and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of three critical global heath and development topic areas.

The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in October 2018.

This project seeks to optimise methods for the collection and shipping of plasma samples from remote and resource-poor settings by adapting a blood separator device developed by Dr Berhan Haile during his PhD project at Burnet.

Image: The point-of-care Blood Separator Device

Originally developed to support viral load testing for HIV, the VL-Plasma® device uses the principles of lateral flow chromatography to separate cell-free plasma from whole blood, with the plasma then being dried on paper within the device to allow subsequent HIV nucleic acid testing at central laboratories.

The device and methods will be further optimised for the testing of antibodies and antigens, which along with nucleic acids are the key biomarkers of infectious diseases and many other conditions.

“By providing a standardised device and methods for reconstitution of liquid plasma, our simple approach will support almost any laboratory test, overcoming the many problems associated with use of dried whole blood spots for this purpose,” Associate Professor Anderson said.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Launched in 2008, over 1365 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants.

The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organisation.

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.

Staff Member



Health Issue

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Associate Professor David Anderson

Deputy Director (Partnerships), Burnet Institute; Chief Scientific Officer, Burnet Diagnostics Initiative




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