Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Receives Additional Grand Challenges Explorations Funding

Press release 15 Nov 2011
 A 3D sculptural representation of two cells - a macrophage and a T cell - forming an ‘immunological synapse’.

It was announced today that LSTM will receive additional funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that enables researchers worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges.  Professor Stephen Gordon will continue to pursue an innovative global health research project, titledExperimental Human Carriage of Pneumococci.

Grand Challenges Explorations funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  Professor Gordon’s project is one of 9 Grand Challenges Explorations Phase II grants announced today.

“Grand Challenges Explorations aims to tackle critical health and development challenges by funding creative, high-risk concepts that show the greatest potential for impact,” said Chris Wilson, Director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “With this additional phase of funding, we’re excited to move the most promising projects closer to products that could ultimately save millions of lives.”

Projects that are receiving funding show promise in tackling priority global health issues where solutions do not yet exist.  This includes finding effective methods to address diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

To learn more about Grand Challenges Explorations, visit

In this project Stephen Gordon and his team will use an intranasal inoculation with a safe strain of pneumococcus to study the mechanisms of mucosal immunity in the lungs and to explore the potential for a vaccine based on his findings.  It has been shown that human carriage of pneumococcus usually results in improved immunity to future infections without any development of disease.  In the previous Phase I research, Gordon successfully demonstrated that human carriage of pneumococcus provides improved immunity to future infections, and that nasal inoculation immunizes the lungs against the pathogen. In Phase II, Gordon will work to assess the reproducibility of his model to ensure its robustness as a candidate for a pneumococcal vaccine. 

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to nearly 500 researchers from over 40 countries.  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 $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have an opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.