Why the Grand Challenges?
 
Skip Navigation LinksHome > The Initiative

Of the billions spent each year on research into life-saving medicines, only a fraction is focused on discovering and developing new tools to fight the diseases that cause millions of deaths each year in developing countries. The Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative is an effort to address this imbalance.

 The Model for the Grand Challenges

Grand Challenges in Global Health is modeled after the grand challenges formulated more than 100 years ago by mathematician David Hilbert. His list of important unsolved problems has encouraged innovation in mathematics research ever since.

Similarly, Grand Challenges in Global Health focuses on 16 major global health challenges with the aim of engaging creative minds across scientific disciplines — including those who have not traditionally taken part in health research — to work on solutions that could lead to breakthrough advances for those in the developing world.

 A Family of Grant Programs With One Purpose

Grand Challenges in Global Health is a family of grant programs focused on one unifying purpose: To overcome persistent bottlenecks in creating new tools that can radically improve health in the developing world.

Grand Challenges in Global Health was launched in 2003, and several years later - 45 grants totaling $458 million were awarded for research projects involving scientists in 33 countries. These projects were managed by teams working in partnership across disciplines, sectors, and countries, and many featured work from leaders in fields such as chemistry, engineering, statistics, and business, who had never before focused on global health. New Grand Challenges in Global Health projects are currently under way.

Recognizing that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, in 2008 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched Grand Challenges Explorations, a $100 million program to encourage even bolder and less conventional solutions.

Grand Challenges Explorations is an agile, accelerated grant initiative with short two-page applications and no preliminary data required. Anyone with a bold idea that shows great promise can apply. Applications are submitted online, and winning grants are chosen approximately 4 months from the submission deadline. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

To date, more than 900 Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded for innovative, early-stage projects in more than 50 countries.

 A Commitment to Big Ideas, Bold Investments

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes that solving our greatest global health issues is a long-term effort. Through Grand Challenges in Global Health, the Foundation is committed to seeking out and rewarding not only established researchers in science and technology, but also young investigators, entrepreneurs and innovators to help expand the pipeline of ideas to fight diseases that claim millions of lives each year. Additional grants are being awarded through Grand Challenges in Global Health and new challenges are being defined.

 News & Events

 Key Reading