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June 1, 2016

MSU researcher to lead Grand Challenges Explorations project

A Michigan State University researcher will be the lead investigator for a Grand Challenges Explorations grant, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Peter Lillehoj, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will use the $100,000 grant to develop a skin patch-based rapid diagnostic test for malaria.

“The Grand Challenges Explorations is one of the most competitive grant mechanisms,” Lillehoj said, “and being selected as a grantee demonstrates the significance of my research in creating novel diagnostic tools and technologies to improve health care in the developing world.”

Grand Challenges Explorations funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Lillehoj’s project is one of more than 40 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Lillehoj and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas.

Lillehoj joined Michigan State in the fall of 2012.

His research interests include nanotechnology, microfluidics, biosensors and point-of-care diagnostics. He also has interests in the development of simple and low-cost technologies for sample preparation and bioprocessing.

In 2014 he received a $400,000 NSF CAREER Award

He received three degrees in mechanical engineering: A bachelor’s from Johns Hopkins University (2006), and a master’s (2007) and Ph.D. (2011) from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a U.S., $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, more than 1,186 projects in more than 61 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants.

The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

By: Tom Oswald

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