I just got off a conference call hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for bloggers interested in the fight against malaria. Specifically, the call focused on the Grand Challenges Explorations, a grant program that aims to foster innovation in global health research. The Foundation commits $100 million to “expand the pipeline of ideas to fight our greatest health challenges.”
As World Malaria Day fast approaches, this call focuses particularly on 3 grant recipients who have made some pretty great achievements in fighting malaria through innovation and hard work. Dr. Szabolcs Marka of Columbia University is an astrophysicist, which was fairly compelling to me as that’s not a field I would generally associate with fighting malaria. But his really innovative idea to use optical ways—essentially a flashlight– to disrupt mosquitoes’ sensory networks, thereby limiting their ability to locate human prey, made a lot of sense to me.
Brian Foy of Colorado State University is seeking to end malaria deaths through other ways by developing and strategically employing drugs that would be administered to humans and then kill mosquitoes upon contact with the blood. Pradipsinh Rathod of the University of Washington seeks to confront the problem of mutating strains of malaria by searching for small molecules that could inhibit some of these mutations and give traditional drugs a fighting chance to make an impact.
It was fantastic to hear about this great program and the excellent work being done all around the world to come up with innovative and creative ways to end malaria deaths. You can learn more about Grand Challenge Explorations here.