Newsroom

Our Stories

St. Michael’s Hospital receives Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations funding

Toronto, November 7, 2011

Dr. Mario Ostrowski
Dr. Mario Ostrowski

TORONTO, Ont., Nov. 7, 2011—St. Michael’s Hospital announced today that it will receive 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.

Dr. Mario Ostrowski, an infectious disease consultant, will pursue an innovative global health research project, titled A Human Endogenous Retrovirus Vaccine to Eliminate Latent HIV Reservoirs.

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. Dr. Ostrowski’s project is one of 110 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced today.

“We believe in the power of innovation—that a single bold idea can pioneer solutions to our greatest health and development challenges,” said Chris Wilson, Director of Global Health Discovery for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Grand Challenges Explorations seeks to identify and fund these new ideas wherever they come from, allowing scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs to pursue the kinds of creative ideas and novel approaches that could help to accelerate the end of polio, cure HIV infection or improve sanitation.”

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 eliminate or control infectious diseases such as polio and HIV as well as discovering new sanitation technologies.

To learn more about Grand Challenges Explorations, visit www.grandchallenges.org.

Dr. Ostrowski hopes to develop a vaccine that would eliminate the HIV from infected people, including the persistent viruses that hide in unknown “reservoirs” in the body. He proposes to target human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs)– sequeneces in the human genome thought to be derived from virsuses that existed millions of years ago. Scientists have observed that when HIV viruses grow, so do HERVS, so if they can trigger the immune system to destroy one, perhaps it can also destroy the other.

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.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.