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Biodesign Receives Gates Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

May 09, 2012

TEMPE, Ariz. – The Biodesign Institute® at Arizona State University announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  ASU assistant professor Shengxi Chen, Ph.D., will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Fluorescent Protein Sensor to Diagnose HIV at Low Cost.” 

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Chen’s project is one of over 100 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

“There is a great societal need to develop a new technology to allow for the rapid and low-cost detection of HIV,” said Chen.  “We believe this innovative research has the potential to help prevent the spread of HIV, particularly in the developing world.”

Chen, of the institute’s Center for BioEnergetics, led by director Sid Hecht, Ph.D., will design and prepare novel probes for the HIV gp120 protein. By directly detecting a virus protein instead of antibodies or RNA, which take days to months to accumulate sufficiently to detect, HIV infection can be diagnosed immediately to help prevent the spread of the epidemic.

To receive funding, Chen and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 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, immunization and nutrition. Applications for the current open round, Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9, will be accepted through May 15, 2012.  

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 600 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.

About the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University

The Biodesign Institute addresses today’s critical global challenges in healthcare, sustainability and security by developing solutions inspired from natural systems and translating those solutions into commercially viable products and clinical practices. 

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