What do chewing gum, chocolate and malaria have to do with each other? Not much, unless you're a young scientist exploring unusual ways
to think about world health.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday announced new grants of $100,000 each for 76 unconventional approaches to world problems.
One will help a UCLA doctoral candidate explore the idea of using chewing gum to detect malaria biomarkers in saliva. Another will give a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York the money he needs to test chocolate for combating the malaria parasite.
Andrew Fung — the UCLA student — admits his idea for an inexpensive new way to detect malaria started out as an intellectual exercise designed to showcase his creativity for a potential postdoctorate employer. He was hoping for a job, not a research grant. He may get both. Fung's idea was built on the need for a malaria test that does not require a blood draw and on research using saliva for detecting other diseases.
This year's 76 grants will go to researchers from 16 countries trying to answer a wide variety of questions: Can you diagnose tuberculosis by analyzing breath samples? Should vaccines be administered under the tongue?