Gates Gambles Big on Bold Medical Probes

$10M in public-health grants eschew peer review for innovation
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2008 2:13 PM CDT
Research funded by the Gates Foundation.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Gates Foundation has awarded more than $10 million to medical researchers with quirky ideas that might not be funded otherwise, the Washington Post reports. The initiative, dubbed Grand Challenges Explorations, offered a simple 2-page application and vetting by entrepreneurs, not medical professionals. “Peer review—by definition almost—excludes innovation because innovation has no peers,” the Foundation’s global health director said.

“It’s just opening the world up to a broader array of ideas,” he continued, “rather than placing our bets on just a few horses that might not ever succeed.” If successful, researchers can look forward to a second round, and $1 million. Among the 104 projects awarded the $100,000 grants are a gene-therapy approach to viral infection and a study of mosquitoes as vaccine carriers.