Published: 03 June 2014

Global health grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded to the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey announced today that it has been awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  With the grant, Professor Johnjoe McFadden will aim to revolutionise the control of tuberculosis by modifying the vaccine and designing a new test for the human form of the disease.

The current skin test used to detect presence of the disease is usually unhelpful since it gives a positive result regardless of whether the person is infected or has received the vaccine. Instead, an expensive chest X-ray is required to diagnose the infection, which is unsustainable in developing countries where the disease is most common.  Scientists are now looking to modify the existing BCG vaccination, so that the skin test only gives a positive result when someone has the infection.

“Tuberculosis is curable and preventable, yet it remains one the world’s most deadly infectious diseases,” said Professor Johnjoe McFadden from the University of Surrey.

“Utilising our expertise at the University of Surrey, we hope to design an affordable test which will help to combat this condition. I am delighted that this project was selected to receive a Grand Challenges Explorations grant which will allow us to investigate the feasibility of this approach to help control human tuberculosis.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  Professor McFaddden’s project is one of over 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

To receive funding, Professor McFadden and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 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,  behaviour change and looking into animal and human health.   Applications for the next Round will be accepted starting September 2014.

Editors' Notes

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 950 people in more than 55 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.

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