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Grand Challenges Explorations #17 Targets Contraceptive Research

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced its Round 17 call for Grand Challenges Explorations. Launched in 2008, the Grand Challenges Explorations vehicle funds early stage discovery research to expand the pipeline of potential solutions to global health and development challenges.  Two of the six topics targeted for this cycle are of particular interest to contraceptive technology researchers.

Assess Family Planning (FP) Needs, Preferences and Behaviors to Inform Innovations in Contraceptive Technologies and Services

The foundation seeks to build the evidence base around the diverse and changing needs, preferences, and behaviors of potential FP users.  Large population-based surveys (e.g. DHS) provide some evidence regarding reasons for unmet need, but more precise and contextualized data could yield better understanding of the real-life experiences, motivations, and preferences of population sub-segments (e.g., women who want no more children, nulliparous women, current non-users of modern contraception, married and unmarried men).  Findings could inform more sensitive and thoughtful FP interventions — both in developing new contraceptive technologies and in designing service delivery approaches to increase family planning access, demand, acceptance, and satisfaction.  More information about this opportunity can be found here.

Develop Novel Platforms to Accelerate Contraceptive Drug Discovery

Drug discovery for many medical indications has been spearheaded by the development of increasingly sophisticated technologies and platforms that validate and accelerate research.  Application of such tools in contraceptive research has been lacking, due to technical barriers.  The foundation seeks to shift that paradigm through this call to develop tools (e.g., screening methods, assays, models) to enable, validate, and accelerate contraceptive drug discovery. Grant applications should focus not on a particular experimental agent, but rather on developing and validating tools and technologies to address technical barriers that currently limit drug discovery. More information about this opportunity can be found here.


To date, more than 1100 researchers from 60+ countries have received grants under this funding mechanism.  That said, these calls are extremely competitive; researchers with novel ideas must submit compelling applications  to the foundation for its consideration no later than 11:30 A.M., PDT, May 11, 2016.


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