College of Medicine receives additional funding from Gates Foundation

Hershey, Pa. -- Penn State College of Medicine announced Wednesday (July 13) that it will receive additional funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that enables researchers worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges. Jose A. Stoute, associate professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology, will continue to pursue an innovative global health research project titled “Use of Microwave Frequency as Treatment for Malaria.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Stoute’s project is one of 12 Grand Challenges Explorations Phase II grants announced this week.

“Finding solutions to persistent global health problems is a difficult, lengthy and expensive process. GCE was designed to tap the innovators of the world by providing resources needed to explore bold ideas that are typically too risky to attract funding through other mechanisms,” said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’re excited to enable further development of novel approaches that can prevent or lessen the burden of diseases that kill or disable millions of the world’s most vulnerable.”

Projects that are receiving additional funding show promise in tackling priority global health issues where solutions do not yet exist. This includes finding effective methods to eliminate or control infectious diseases such as malaria and HIV.

Stoute’s research will be carried out in conjunction with Carmenza Spadafora from the Institute for Advanced Scientific Studies in Panama, Republic of Panama. Other collaborators include Dinesh Agrawal and Jiping Cheng from Penn State's College of Engineering, and William Jemison and Christopher Nadovich from the College of Engineering at Clarkson University, N.Y. The research will explore the effectiveness of low power microwaves for the treatment of malaria both in mice and in vitro. Malaria, once inside the red cells, accumulates iron in its food vacuole and researchers believe this iron may be targeted by microwaves. If successful, this study may yield a new strategy for the treatment of malaria.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to nearly 500 researchers from over 40 countries. 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 $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

To learn more about the next open round of Grand Challenges Explorations, visit http://www.grandchallenges.org/explorations/.

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Last Updated July 21, 2011