The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Inviting applications for ‘The Grand Challenge’ for the funding title-‘ Ending the Pandemic Threat: A Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development’ to recognize that solving the most pressing challenges in global health and development requires more of the world’s brightest minds working on them.

Funding brief: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes that solving the most pressing challenges in global health and development requires more of the world’s brightest minds working on them.

The Grand Challenges family of initiatives seeks to engage innovators from around the world to solve these challenges. Grand Challenges initiatives are united by their focus on fostering innovation, directing research to where it will have the most impact, and serving those most in need.

Objective:
● To find a game changing, universal solution to all these challenges, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Page Family are launching the “Universal Influenza Vaccine Development Grand Challenge” during the centenary year of the 1918 flu pandemic. The goal of this Grand Challenge is to identify novel, transformative concepts that will lead to development of universal influenza vaccines offering protection from morbidity and mortality caused by all subtypes of circulating and emerging (drifted and shifted) Influenza A subtype viruses and Influenza B lineage viruses for at least three to five years. It is envisaged that such a universal influenza vaccine would address the threat from both seasonal and pandemic influenza, thus alleviating the need for annual seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns, averting significant global morbidity and mortality, and better preparing the world for the next influenza pandemic.
● While other funders are supporting development of universal Influenza vaccines, three things set this Grand Challenge apart. They seek to fund ideas that are bold and innovative, bridging the funding ‘valley of death’ to translate these novel approaches into products ready for human clinical trials. They also aim to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-fertilization of ideas from outside the traditional influenza research community. Third, we seek completely transformative approaches rather than incremental research.
● Our collective belief is that innovation is catalyzed through rigorous collaboration and enriching of ecosystems, and we hope this Grand Challenge will stimulate creative thinking beyond the traditional influenza community. Although not exhaustive, examples of researchers and disciplines they would like to see further integrated and supported include computational and systems biologists, virologists, immunologists, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, the HIV/AIDS and cancer immunotherapy research communities, etc. Fundamentally, they are looking for unconventional approaches that effectively drive or harness immune responses in desired ways and develop universal influenza vaccines that are ready to start clinical trials by 2021.
● All proposals must be aligned with the Gates Foundation’s intervention Target Product Profile (iTPP). The iTPP (detailed in the Supporting Materials) describes the desired characteristics of a universal influenza vaccine. Most importantly, new vaccines should have the potential to be used in all age groups around the world, especially in developing countries. They are looking for affordable, effective vaccines that are suitable for delivery through existing immunization programs in-country, which has implications for product presentation and stability as well as for dosing route and schedule. The vaccines need to be broadly protective across Influenza A and B strains for a minimum of three to five years. Technologies will need to be scalable to meet worldwide demand.

They are looking for proposals that:
● Engage scientists across a variety of disciplines, including those new to the influenza field
● Demonstrate innovative thinking by incorporating concepts or technologies not currently being used within/addressed by the influenza vaccine field
● Present concepts and strategies that are “off the beaten track,” significantly radical in conception, and daring in premise.

Please note: grantees will have access to a wide-range of Gates Foundation-funded resources and technology platforms to support their projects

Examples of what we’re looking for may fall into broad categories:
● Antigen-centric: discovering new antigens/targets through Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and/or Deep Learning approaches to get beyond traditional surface hemagglutinin
● Host-centric: approaches that (a) generate, enhance, or modify human immune protection, including sterilizing immunity (b) ensure longer term (possibly life-long) immune response (c) describe surrogates for longevity of immune response and (d) that target specific tissue or cell types for appropriate induction of local and systemic immunity leading to broader and longer protection
● Technology-centric: including (a) novel vaccine concepts, targets and constructs inspired by new observations or understanding about the nature of the influenza virus or the human response to it and (b) applications of radically new technologies for disease protection, such as production of immunogens using synthetic biology or radical genetic engineering approaches
● Enabling advances: including challenge models to quickly demonstrate safety and proof-of-concept for influenza vaccines
● They also would be very happy to receive proposals that describe approaches for employing multiple interventions in combination.

In addition, they may entertain concept proposals related to use of DNA/RNA based delivery of longer acting universal influenza monoclonal antibody for passive prophylaxis or use of such monoclonals for exploring appropriate epitopes for universal influenza vaccine, if generally aligned with our iTPP.

They will NOT consider funding for:
● Marginal improvements in current seasonal influenza vaccines
● Precedented approaches using biosimilars to antigens or adjuvants currently in clinical development
● Basic studies of pathogen or human biology without a clear component that tests the potential for translation into product
● Development of assays, new reagents, adjuvants, or production technologies improving licensed and late-stage vaccines already in development
● Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for treatment of influenza patients.

Donor Name: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Funding name: The Grand Challenge (Title: Ending the Pandemic Threat: A Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development)

Deadline: Applications due no later than June, 22nd, 2018, 11:30 a.m. U.S. Pacific Daylight Time

Funding details link: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/challenge/ending-pandemic-threat-grand-challenge-universal-influenza-vaccine-development

Funding limit: Pilot awards ($250,000 up to $ 2 million)

This request for proposals intends to fund pilot awards of up to USD $2 million over 2 years, with the anticipation that one or more pilot projects, on demonstration of promising proof-of-concept data (e.g., from animal models), may be invited to apply for a full award up to USD $10 million. Full awards would be intended to fund IND-enabling and clinical studies.

Pilot awards do not include a requirement for an industry or translation partner but such partnerships would still be welcome. Industry is also welcome to apply directly for the pilot award. Successful pilot award recipients will have the opportunity to apply for additional funding, which could include grants, program related investments and/or contracts and must include a biopharmaceutical industry or other translational partner.

Special Notes: Please contact with the donor directly for further clarification and understanding.

Project start date: Not found
Project duration: Two (2) years.

Eligible organization: As below

Eligibility:
● Grand Challenges is open to both foreign and domestic organizations, including non-profit organizations, for- profit companies, international organizations, government agencies and academic institutions.
● Individuals and organizations classified as individuals for U.S. tax purposes are not eligible to receive an award from the foundation as part of the Grand Challenges initiative.
● Upon registration, applicants must provide information about the tax status of their organization as different terms and conditions may apply. You should confirm your organization’s tax status with the appropriate advisor or entity within your organization such as your grants or contracts department, finance, or office of sponsored research. The foundation may request additional information regarding your tax status. For information about tax statuses, you may check with your own advisors and review information provided on the Internal Revenue Service web site at: www.irs.gov.
● Each challenge published under the Grand Challenges may include additional instructions with regard to specific limitations regarding eligibility for that challenge.

Eligible Country: No country bar found (Open to all regions)

Submission mail: Not found

Other important link:
● Apply: https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/universalflu
● Guideline: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/sites/default/files/additional-materials/Challenge%20Description%20and%20Rules%20and%20Guidelines.pdf
● About: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/about
● FAQ: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/sites/default/files/additional-materials/Frequently%20Asked%20Questions.pdf
● Letter of Inquiry: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/sites/default/files/additional-materials/GC_for_UFlu_Vx_Development_LOI_Template.pdf
● Suggested reading: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/sites/default/files/additional-materials/Suggested%20Reading.pdf
● Target Product Profile: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/sites/default/files/additional-materials/Target%20Product%20Profile%20%28TPP%29.pdf

How to apply: Interested applicant may apply through the website (https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/universalflu).


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