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SRI International Receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for Innovative Global Health Research
Date:5/13/2010

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- SRI International announced today that it has received a US$100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The grant will support an innovative global health research project conducted by Douglas Watson, Ph.D., protein biochemist in SRI's Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE), titled "Vitamin A-Secreting Probiotics to Activate Mucosal Immunity."

Watson's project is one of 78 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fourth funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. The grants were provided to scientists in 18 countries on six continents.

To receive funding, Watson showed in a two-page application how his idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving almost 2,700 proposals in this round.

Through metabolic engineering, SRI researchers are developing therapies to address diarrheal diseases, which lead annually to as many as 5 million childhood deaths. In areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, severe vitamin A deficiency contributes to poor gut mucosal immunity, which increases susceptibility to acute and chronic diarrhea. Vitamin A supplementation can reduce childhood mortality by 30 percent; however, studies have shown
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