Nowadays, it seems like if there's a big scientific problem, like how to send explorers back to the moon or build a robotic vehicle, organizations put several million dollars on the line and wait for private industry to invent the solution.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is taking a similar approach to fight global health problems, in a first-ever initiative called the Grand Challenges Explorations. On Monday, the foundation said it would put up $100 million to fund novel ideas, vaccines, or drug-delivery systems that protect people against infectious diseases.
Of course, the foundation already funds global-health projects. But it says that this initiative is different because it involves a faster grant-making process. People can apply online with a two-page application, without providing preliminary data about their proposed research. And the foundation will be looking at proposals from scientists who don't typically work in global health, including people from Africa, Asia, and other parts of the developing world.
It is accepting proposals online through May 30, 2008.