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."