30 November 2010
RMIT receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for innovative global health research
RMIT University has received a $ US 100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The grant will support an innovative global health research project conducted by Dr Vipul Bansal, titled "Nanochip Biosensor for Infectious Diseases and Malaria".
Dr Vipul Bansal's project is one of 65 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fifth funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. The grants were provided to scientists in 16 countries on five continents.
To receive funding, Dr Bansal showed in a two-page application how his idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving more than 2,400 proposals in this round.
Dr Bansal has proposed a nano-biotechnology enabled transformational approach to develop a low-cost, ultra-fast, disposable, nanochip biosensor that can be non-invasively used to detect malaria and infectious diseases with ultra-high selectivity and sensitivity.
"If successful, a battery-powered, non-invasive finger scanner can be developed in the next stage of the project, and this invention can potentially revolutionise the way infectious diseases are currently diagnosed, particularly in the developing world," he said.
A Senior Lecturer at RMIT's School of Applied Sciences, Dr Bansal is also an early career APD Fellow of the Australian Research Council and has received more than $2.5 million in competitive grant funding in the past two years.
Dr Bansal's collaborators on the research are Pro Vice-Chancellor Science, Engineering and Health and Vice-President, Professor Peter Coloe, and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor International in the College of Science, Engineering and Health, Professor Suresh Bhargava. Professor Ning Gu from China's Southeast University will also be involved in the project.
"These are bold ideas from innovative thinkers, which is exactly what we need in global health research right now," Dr.Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program, said. "I'm excited to see some of these daring projects develop into life-saving breakthroughs for those who need them the most."
About Grand Challenges Explorations
Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote innovation in global health. The program uses an agile, streamlined grant process - applications are limited to two pages, and preliminary data are not required. Proposals are reviewed and selected by a committee of foundation staff and external experts, and grant decisions are made within approximately three months of the close of the funding round.
The next round of Grand Challenges Explorations will open in March 2011. More information, including grant application instructions and a list of topics for which proposals will be accepted, will be available on the Grand Challenges Explorations website.
For interviews: Dr Vipul Bansal, (03) 9925 2121 or 0430 351 326.
For media enquiries: RMIT University Communications, Gosia Kaszubska, (03) 9925 3176 or 0417 510 735.