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November 2, 2012

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grants for Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

Two researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have won Grand Challenges Explorations grants to pursue innovative global health and development research projects. The Grand Challenges initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationDavid Sullivan, MD, an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, will focus on the project A Quantum Physics Search for Liver-Stage Antimalarials. Saifuddin Ahmed, MBBS, PhD, an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of  Population, Family and Reproductive Health, will work on the project Saving Preterm Infants with Chemical Warming Padded Jacket.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world’s toughest and persistent global health and development challenges.  GCE  invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve the problems people in the developing world face every day.  The Bloomberg School’s projects are two of over 80 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

“Investments in innovative global health research are already paying off,” said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We continue to be impressed by the novelty and innovative spirit of Grand Challenges Explorations projects and are enthusiastic about this exciting research. These investments hold real potential to yield new solutions to improve the health of millions of people in the developing world, and ensure that everyone has the chance to live a healthy productive life.”

To receive funding, Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a creative idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, immunization and communications. Applications for the current open round, Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10, will be accepted through November 7, 2012

For their project, Sullivan, along with Martin N. Martinov of Gradient Biomodeling LLC, will create a quantum physics computer model of liver-stage malaria parasite infection to screen existing commercial drug and compound databases to identify molecules that possess liver-stage-specific, anti-malarial activity. Those molecules will then be tested in vivo and in vitro, and the ones that are effective will be optimized via computer modeling for future pre-clinical development.

To explore new solutions for global health priority areas, Ahmed will develop and test a low-cost, reusable warming jacket for use in preventing hypothermia in preterm babies. The jacket uses the non-toxic salt solution currently used for hand warmers and muscle pain relief pads, and could be used in tandem with Kangaroo Mother Care in developing countries where electricity and incubators are not available.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 700 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.

Media contact for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or nwoodwri@jhsph.edu.