Yesterday afternoon the Gates Foundation announced the successful applications to their new Grand Challenges “Explorations” program. Unlike the first Grand Challenges program, launched the few years back, rather than soliciting grant applications from big name, multi-center, research powerhouses, this time the program sought out ideas from just about anyone who had a good idea and was willing to discuss it on their 2 page application letter. But the big risk, big reward mentality that the Gates Foundation has been advocating remains.

Here are just one example of the successful applications:

Hiroyuki Matsuoka at Jichi Medical University in Japan thinks it may be possible to turn mosquitoes that normally transmit disease into “flying syringes,” so that when they bite humans they deliver vaccines.

By providing lots of smaller, $100,000 grants to researchers, the Foundation hopes to encourage more “out-of-the-box” research ideas. Basically stuff other foundations would be crazy to sponsor…at least at this stage in the game. Who would ever have thought that H. pylori could cause ulcers and that taking an anti-microbial could get rid of them? Just ask Barry Marshall, who literally drank a glass of the stuff to show that it did…and won a Nobel for his craziness.

Will it be successful? Who knows, but it certainly can’t hurt. It is not like the money would be better in the stock market these days….

To read more about the program, click here. Oh, and there is information there on the second round of the program as well.

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