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Department of Plant Sciences

Groundbreaking research results in grant

University of Cambridge receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for groundbreaking research in Global Health and Development

The University of Cambridge has been awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant - an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationChris Gilligan, Professor of Mathematical Biology and Co-Chair of the Cambridge Global Food Security Interdisciplinary Research Centre, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Integrated platform for effective surveillance.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  Professor Gilligan’s project is one of 34 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 21 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this week

The aim of the funded project is to help small-holder farmers make better informed decisions for cost-effective pest and disease control, at the local and regional scales. Professor Gillian’s team will provide an integrated platform for the collection and analysis of surveillance data in near real-time, from multiple sources, to greatly improve the efficiency and utility of crop disease surveillance. Along with existing surveillance mechanisms, the team will also promote the adoption of novel, large-scale SMS/smartphone surveillance platforms.

Funding will enable the team to focus on pests and diseases of maize, wheat and cassava in East Africa, principally in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. They will develop modelling frameworks and pilot large-scale surveillance programmes in collaboration with in-country partners, and the success of these will be reviewed through in-country workshops.

To receive funding, Professor Gilligan and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of three critical global heath and development topic areas.  The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in February, 2019.  

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 1400 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants.  The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization.  The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required.  Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times per year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.