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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
8-Jun-2010

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Contact: Carol Holm-Hansen
carol.holm.hansen@fhi.no
Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Norwegian Institute of Public Health receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health announced today that it has received a US$100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support an innovative global health research project conducted by Dr Carol Holm-Hansen titled "TB Rapid Test (TBRT) Project."

This project is one of 78 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fourth 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 18 countries on six continents.

To receive funding, Carol Holm-Hansen showed in a two-page application how the TBRT idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving almost 2,700 proposals in this round.

The aim of the TBRT project is to develop a simple and rapid saliva-based screening test for the detection of tuberculosis (TB) disease in the developing world. Accurate and timely diagnosis of TB during the first visit to a formal health care provider will hasten referral, confirmatory testing and treatment. Expedient diagnosis will also reduce the infectious pool of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and potentially curb the TB pandemic. It is important that a TB screening test can be performed at local health posts that do not have laboratory facilities. The grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be used specifically to address diagnostic challenges related to TB/HIV co-infection and pediatric TB.

The TBRT project is a multinational collaboration coordinated by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The project has also received funding from the Research Council of Norway (2009-2012). The partners from Norway, the Netherlands, USA, UK, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa, China and Vietnam have extensive expertise, experience and network participation in the fields of immunology, proteomics, molecular epidemiology, cloning and production of recombinant antigens, public health, development of routine and alternative (saliva-based) diagnostic methods, evaluation and validation of diagnostic assays, and field work. Carol Holm-Hansen has over 20 years' experience working with multinational interdisciplinary collaborative projects addressing HIV and TB in the developing world.

"The winners of these grants show the bold thinking we need to tackle some of the world's greatest health challenges," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. "I'm excited about their ideas and look forward to seeing some of these exploratory projects turn into life-saving breakthroughs."

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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.

Applications for the next round of Grand Challenges Explorations will be accepted from September 2010. Grant application instructions, including the list of topics for which proposals are currently being accepted, are available at http://www.grandchallenges.org/explorations.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is a governmental institution placed directly under the Ministry of Health and Care Services. NIPH acts as a national competence institution for governmental authorities, the health service, the judiciary, prosecuting authorities, politicians, the media and the general public. NIPH has an administrative division and five other divisions; Infectious Disease Control, Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology, Mental Health and Forensic Toxicology and Drug Abuse Research.



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