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2 Grand Challenges Explorations grants for global health
Date:5/11/2012

The innovative research of three Northwestern University professors who are making a big difference in the highly promising area of synthetic biology has been recognized with two early-stage discovery awards from Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The global health projects will focus on creating new compounds to combat malaria and on producing biosensors for low-cost, in-home diagnoses.

The prestigious awards are two of 107 Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grants announced this week. The funding supports scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs worldwide who are testing unconventional ideas that show great promise to improve the health of people in the developing world.

Northwestern now has received a total of three GCE grants as part of the Gates Foundation's call to "Apply Synthetic Biology to Global Health Challenges." (Synthetic biology is the design and construction of new types of biological systems.) To date, only 30 synthetic biology grants have been awarded as part of this initiative, acknowledging Northwestern as being at the forefront of its use to address global health issues.

"The Gates Foundation support allows us to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects that are utilizing cutting-edge techniques to engineer biological systems," said Keith Tyo, an investigator on all three grants. "Success on any one of these projects could result in a dramatic improvement in quality of life for millions of suffering people."

Tyo is an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Andreas Matouschek, professor of molecular biosciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Tyo will develop synthetic compounds that target essential proteins in the Plasmodium parasite for destruction by its own protein degradation mechanisms. This strategy could lead to new treatmen
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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