Grand Challenges Explorations is a unique initiative that supports innovative research of unorthodox ideas. Every aspect of the program, including the carefully designed topics describing critical scientific barriers to progress in global health, the two-page online application, and the rapid review process, are designed to swiftly award funding to scientists who are testing unproven ideas that could lead to breakthroughs in global health.
As part of an initial review by internal staff, proposals are screened to ensure that they address the scientific barrier described in a topic. Applications that are disqualified at this stage from further review include those that are outside the scope of the topic; those that focus on ideas specifically excluded in the topic description; or those that do not describe a clear and testable hypothesis.
The second step in the review process is among the most unique in scientific grant programs. Our approach to identifying truly creative ideas and novel approaches requires a panel of reviewers with broad expertise and experience in discovering inventive approaches to daunting issues. All applications are sent to the reviewers without applicant details or organizational information.
Proposals are evaluated by some of the world’s leading innovative minds, who are each empowered to select one to two proposals he/she finds most pioneering based on the creativity of the idea and the experimental plan described in the proposal. No consensus is needed for an idea to be awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant – it simply needs to be championed by one of these reviewers.
The final step in the review is a rapid due diligence evaluation to ensure that the investigator and institution have the basic institutional capacity to receive the grant and perform the work described.