Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finding Innovative Solutions

In September 2009, the President released his “Strategy for American Innovation” to find ways to foster innovation in science and technology to help the U.S. obtain sustainable growth by creating high quality jobs. The President wants to see the country address the “grand challenges” we face by creating multidisciplinary teams of researchers and multi-sector collaborators to bring new expertise to bear on important problems and strengthen the social contract between science and society.

In the field of medicine alone, there are specific grand challenges that need to be addressed:

• Complete DNA sequencing for every case of cancer
• Develop smart anti-cancer therapeutics to kill cancer cells and leave their normal neighbors untouched
• Detect diseases earlier from a saliva sample and enable researchers in the field of nanotechnology find ways to deliver drugs precisely to the desired tissue
• Develop personalized medicine to enable prescriptions to be given individually in the right dosage to each person
• Develop a universal vaccine for influenza to protect against all future strains
• Fund regenerative medicine so that the wait for an organ transplant will end

To move the innovation concept forward, the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President and the National Economic Council on February 3, 2010 issued a Request for Information to determine exactly what the needs are to further develop innovative solutions to problems.

Go to for the topics that responders to the RFI l need to address. Responses to this RFI must be submitted by April 15, 2020. Email for further information.

In another initiative seeking new solutions, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative” focuses on finding new ways to handle major global health challenges. As part of the Initiative, the Foundation is accepting Letters of Inquiry for “Grand Challenges Point-of-Care Diagnostics Grants” that will fund innovative ideas for diagnostics in the developing world.

The goal for this new initiative is to develop common features and standards that will result in diagnostic devices that cost less, are easier to use, will be more thoroughly disseminated, and be more appropriate for healthcare applications in resource poor settings.

The program has a total of $30 million in funding available to create technologies and components to use to assess patients at the point-of-care in a variety of settings. This competition is expected to fund between ten and fourteen grants and both the public and private sector are eligible to apply. Letters of inquiry must be received by February 16, 2010, then invitations to submit proposals will be made by April 2010, and full proposal applications are due June 2010.

For more information, email