Grand Challenges Exploration Grant for Global Health and Development

University of Melbourne Professor Stephen Rogerson at the Doherty wins Grand Challenges Exploration grant.

Professor Rogerson heads the Malaria Pathogenesis and Immunity Laboratory, and will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled Ultra-Sensitive Non-invasive PoC Immunosensor for Malaria.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Professor Rogerson’s project is one of more than 40 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Professor Rogerson and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global health and development topic areas.
The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in September 2016.

Professor Rogerson is working with University of Melbourne colleagues Professor Stan Skafidas, Professor Patrick Kwan and PhD student Gita Vita Soraya, to develop a non-invasive malaria diagnostic that will detect malaria proteins with 1000 times more sensitivity than current rapid diagnostic tests, fulfilling diagnostic gaps required for malaria elimination.

Professor Skafidas, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and his team have developed electronic sensors to detect the binding of non-malaria proteins to antibodies coated on chips.

“If we can adapt this technology to malaria protein detection, it will be a significant increase in sensitivity,” Professor Rogerson said.

“We plan to develop saliva and urine tests that would replace current finger-prick rapid diagnostics and time-consuming blood microscopy testing, making them much more acceptable for whole-community malaria screening and treatment programs. This is truly a convergence of research disciplines to solve global health challenges.”

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1186 projects in more than 61 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.