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Virginia Tech Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Funding
December 12, 2011

Virginia Tech has announced that it will receive funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that enables researchers worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges.

Peter Vikesland

Peter Vikesland, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, will pursue an innovative global health research project, titled “Inkjet Imprinted Paper for Polio Virus Detection and Differentiation.”

Grand Challenges Explorations funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Prof. Vikesland’s project is one of 110 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced Nov. 7, 2011.

Projects that are receiving funding show promise in tackling priority global health issues where solutions do not yet exist. This includes finding effective methods to eliminate or control infectious diseases such as polio and HIV as well as discovering new sanitation technologies.

Prof. Vikesland’s project will employ paper-based diagnostics, already used to detect proteins and chemical contaminants, but have yet to be used for virus detection. Polio, a problematic disease in many developing regions of world, is a suitable candidate for initial studies to determine if paper-based tests can be used for the isolation and detection of virus, according to Prof. Vikesland.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a U.S. $100 million initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to nearly 500 researchers from over 40 countries. 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 $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have an opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to U.S. $1 million.

This story can be found on the Virginia Tech News website.

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