Gates Foundation rewards high-risk research projects

In a radical departure from traditional research funding standards, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is handing out 81 grants of $100,000 each to researchers who are thinking big about revolutionary new approaches to protecting people from disease. And the Foundation's scientists know going in that as many as 90 percent of the projects will fail.

Based on nothing more than a two-page outline with no requirement for data, researchers around the world have been lining up for these Grand Challenges Explorations grants, which come with the promise of $1 million more if the initial research proves promising.

Projects from 17 countries have been selected. They include work on giving mosquitoes a cold to prevent them from biting people, developing tomatoes that can therapeutically target viruses and using laser technology to enhance the human immune response triggered by a vaccine.

"Some things require a revolution, rather than an evolution, in thinking," says Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health program. "The problem is we can be locked into an orthodoxy of thinking that shackles us and prevents us from thinking in novel ways."

- read the article from The Times