Friday, October 23, 2009

Grand Challenges in Global Health

I'm a Bill fan. No, not the Kill Bill movies (eww), or Bronco Bill.

I'm a Bill Gates fan, more specifically the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fan. To be honest, I don't have a PC. My trusty laptop is an Apple.....but most Pacific Northwesterners like myself take some pride in the fact that Bill and his little company, Microsoft, started right here in our neck of the woods. And what a company. I am completely incapable of entering the PC vs Apple technical discussion, but what I am impressed with is what Bill has done with the immense fortune that he has amassed as a result of his ingenuity.

I agree completely with the Gates Foundation's mission: that all lives have equal value. The Foundation goes on to further elaborate on it's mission as defined in it's guiding principles.Their principles can be found on the Foundation's website:

The 15 principles below reflect the Gates family's beliefs about the role of philanthropy and the impact they want this foundation to have. The principles guide what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. While many of them are fundamental to the way we operate, we will remain open to amending them as we grow and learn more about our work.
Guiding Principle #1: This is a family foundation driven by the interests and passions of the Gates family.
Guiding Principle #2: Philanthropy plays an important but limited role.

Guiding Principle #3: Science and technology have great potential to improve lives around the world.
Guiding Principle #4: We are funders and shapers—we rely on others to act and implement.
Guiding Principle #5: Our focus is clear—and limited—and prioritizes some of the most neglected issues.
Guiding Principle #6: We identify a specific point of intervention and apply our efforts against a theory of change.
Guiding Principle #7: We take risks, make big bets, and move with urgency. We are in it for the long haul.
Guiding Principle #8: We advocate—vigorously but responsibly—in our areas of focus.
Guiding Principle #9: We must be humble and mindful in our actions and words. We seek and heed the counsel of outside voices.
Guiding Principle #10: We treat our grantees as valued partners, and we treat the ultimate beneficiaries of our work with respect.
Guiding Principle #11: Delivering results with the resources we have been given is of the utmost importance—and we seek and share information about those results.
Guiding Principle #12: We demand ethical behavior of ourselves.
Guiding Principle #13: We treat each other as valued colleagues.
Guiding Principle #14: Meeting our mission—to increase opportunity and equity for those most in need—requires great stewardship of the money we have available.
Guiding Principle #15: We leave room for growth and change.
Recently, the Gates Foundation announced its recipients of Grand Challenges in Global Health grants:
ARUSHA, Tanzania – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced 76 grants of US$100,000 each to pursue bold ideas for transforming health in developing countries.  The grants support researchers in 16 countries with ideas as diverse as a developing an electronic nose to diagnose tuberculosis and using chocolate to help prevent malaria.
I'm posting just a few of the innovative health projects that were awarded funding. You can see them all here.
o   Andrew Fung of University of California, Los Angeles aims to develop chewing gum that can detect malaria biomarkers in saliva;
o   Ranjan Nanda of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology in India will attempt to create a handheld “electronic nose” that gathers and analyzes breath samples to diagnose tuberculosis;
o   Udantha Abeyratne of the University of Queensland in Australia will equip mobile phones and mp3 players with microphones to record cough and sleep sounds, which could then be screened to diagnose pneumonia.
o   Steven Maranz of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York will test the ability of a compound found in chocolate to keep malaria at bay.

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