• 10.28.10

Infrared Lights to Fight Malaria Just One of the Schemes Funded by Gates Foundation

A Columbia University astrophysicist’s offshoot project one of nine to receive up to $1 million in funds from Bill and Melinda Gates.

The Grand Challenges Explorations has funded 340 projects since its inception two years ago, using a commitment of $100 million. President of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, Dr Tachi Yamada, said that the nine projects “prove the value of investing in truly novel ideas to support global health. If even one of these ideas comes to fruition it could save countless lives.”


Projects include one from a team at Columbia University that attempts to use infrared light to confuse mosquitoes and prevent them transmitting malaria to humans, and a University of Washington professor who is trying to use novel proteins to interfere with the HIV DNA and eliminate it from infected cells.

Szabolks Marca is the scientist behind the infrared light scheme. An astrophysicist by day– his job normally involves using lasers to study black holes–the father of four wanted to do something that helped children. “I was thinking for a long time, how can I do something beyond fundamental science,” he told the New York Times.

Applications for the next round of funding will be accepted starting early next month, and Grand Challenges is looking for potential recipients in the fields of Polio, HIV, sanitation, cellphone apps for healthcare and pre- and neonatal technologies.

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.