UA Receives Grand Challenges Exploration Grants

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The University of Arizona announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The UA grant recipients are Zhongguo Xiong and Monica Schmidt, both in the School of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Their projects are two of more than 80 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Grand Challenges Explorations, or GCE, funds individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world's toughest and persistent global health and development challenges. GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve the problems people in the developing world face every day.

"Investments in innovative global health research are already paying off," said Chris Wilson, director of global health discovery and translational sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We continue to be impressed by the novelty and innovative spirit of Grand Challenges Explorations projects and are enthusiastic about this exciting research. These investments hold real potential to yield new solutions to improve the health of millions of people in the developing world and ensure that everyone has the chance to live a healthy productive life."

Xiong, associate professor of plant sciences and member of the UA BIO5 Institute, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled "Gene Editing to Create Immunity Against Cassava Brown Streak."

"This is a perfect opportunity to apply state-of-the-art research to solving the problems of feeding the growing world population," he said. "Cassava is the staple food in many parts of the world, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America."

According to the most recent figures available from the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations, the cassava crop is a major food source for nearly 1 billion people in 105 countries, providing up to one-third of daily calorie intake.

Read more from this article published in UANews on November 1 at the link below.

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