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Collaboratory Platforms 2023: Democratizing Access to Technologies

Collaboratory Platforms 2023: Democratizing Access to Technologies RFP

**NOTE: This opportunity was open only to invitees of the 2023 Grand Challenges Annual Meeting whose primary affiliation is with an institution based in a LMIC.

Background

The Global Health Discovery Collaboratory (GHDC) Platforms program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - or "Collaboratory Platforms" program - lowers barriers to accessing best-in-class tools, cross-cutting technology platforms, and expertise for our grantee members in order to accelerate discovery and translation of transformative solutions to global health inequity.  These Platforms guide the design, execution, data analysis, and interpretation to support a wide variety of initiatives, including discovery for vaccines and biologics, human immune monitoring, biomarker discovery, characterization of host-pathogen interactions, and early drug discovery compound profiling. Scientists in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have the local knowledge and perspective crucial to finding the right solution and directing it to the right problem, and the Gates Foundation is committed to ensuring that scientists based in LMICs have opportunities to advance their work through partnership with the Collaboratory Platforms.

The Challenge

We seek creative projects that are led by investigators in LMICs[1] and whose path to global health impact would be accelerated through partnership with the Collaboratory Platforms. Proposed ideas should be in alignment with the Priority Topic Areas listed below. The details and scope of the involvement of the Collaboratory Platform will be co-developed once finalists are identified.

Priority Disease and Topic Areas:

HIV

  • Understanding and measuring mucosal immune responses (particularly reproductive track, and responses in lymph nodes)
  • Novel immunogen design and immunization strategies for HIV vaccines
  • Evaluating durability of protective immune responses
  • Strategies to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies

Malaria

  • Mechanisms of naturally acquired immunity to P. falciparum infection
  • Mediators of P. falciparum liver stage immunity
  • Biomarkers of durability of vaccine-induced protection
  • mRNA vaccine candidates
  • Evaluation of non-CSP antigens in preclinical models
  • Evaluation of novel biologics
  • Testing new drug agents for drug discovery potential

Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases

  • Improved Rotavirus vaccines, optimized to overcome vaccine underperformance
  • Mechanisms to improve gut mucosal immunity
  • Multivalent vaccines for Shigella
  • Cholera genomics

Tuberculosis

  • Evaluation of novel TB vaccine candidates
  • Novel tools to support TB vaccine R&D
  • New TB diagnostics
  • Improving TB drug regimens 
  • New drug targets to overcome resistance
  • Testing new drug agents for drug discovery potential
  • Biomarkers to enable diagnostic or more efficient drug regimen development (or early markers of treatment cure)

Pneumonia and Pandemic Preparedness

  • Pneumococcus, RSV, Meningococcus and viruses of pandemic potential
  • mRNA vaccines
  • Strategies to extend durability of vaccine-induced protection 
  • Preventing mortality from AMR risk pathogens

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

  • Biomarkers for soil-transmitted helminths
  • Schistosomiasis vaccines

Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health

  • The intersection between maternal microbiome, nutrition and pregnancy, birth and infant outcomes
  • -omics studies for maternal health and adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • Fetal, neonatal, and infant nutrition and health (including growth and development)
  • Maternal, neonatal child health – with strategies for the identification/screening and/or treatment of preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction or stillbirth in local settings

Women's Health Innovations

  • STI vaccines and diagnostics
  • Nonhormonal contraceptive small molecule through biologic approaches and technologies (excluding vaccines)
  • Biomarkers of HPV infection, clearance, and immune correlates
  • Vaginal microbiome innovations to enable discovery of probiotic formulations and improved understanding of longitudinal microbiome dynamics before, during and after pregnancy

Funding level: up to USD $250,000 for each award provided to the organization, with a term of up to two years depending on the scope of the project. Application budgets should be commensurate with the scope of work proposed.

What We Are Looking For

We are seeking proposals led by investigators from institutions based in LMICs* that are aligned with our priority topic areas. Proposed activities involving data and sample collection and experiments performed at the LMIC institution will be funded via new direct grants, while work performed by the Collaboratory Platform partners will be funded directly by the Gates Foundation through a separate funding mechanism. Proposed ideas may be entirely new projects or ideas that will enable further in-depth analysis to complement an existing project. Pilot studies to generate initial data that may lead to potential larger follow-on studies (via separate funding), or proposals aimed at generating hypotheses are acceptable, as are studies designed to test specific hypotheses. In addition to collaborating with Gates Foundation-funded investigators, some Platforms can train interested collaborators in wet lab or analytical techniques in the context of a specific project.

Please visit the Global Health Discovery Collaboratory website to learn more about the GHDC and the individual Collaboratory Platforms. Representatives from each Collaboratory Platform are attending the 2023 Grand Challenges Annual Meeting and can be available to answer questions.

Collaboratory Platforms focus areas:

  • Adjuvants and Formulations: Access high quality adjuvants, formulation expertise, and small-animal immunogenicity studies.
  • Antibody Dynamics: Providing qualified/validated GCLP compliant antibody measurements for specificity, isotype/subclass, avidity, affinity, and function; immune systems computational expertise to define immune correlates of protection.
  • Antigen Arrays: High throughput microarray technology enables measurement of antibody responses to thousands of proteins in a single assay.
  • Human immunoglobulin repertoire mice: Interrogate immunogens against a human immune repertoire. Discover and isolate monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to support your research or advance product development.
  • Protein Sciences: Provides in-depth structural characterization of immunogens using a variety of structural and biophysical techniques.
  • Metabolomic Biomarker Discovery: Offers untargeted mass spectrometry-based molecular profiling to measure thousands of distinct small molecules in biosamples to accelerate discovery of biomarkers of health and disease.
  • Proteomic Biomarker Discovery: Quantify thousands of proteins using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to obtain signatures reflective of health or disease status.
  • SARS-CoV-2 Immunoassays: Access validated / qualified assays for vaccines and mAbs for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens of global health importance. 
  • Single Cell Analytics: Provides experimental and computational single-cell genomic profiling for in-depth molecular characterization of biological specimens.
  • Systems Immunology: Offers comprehensive and standardized immune monitoring, cutting-edge technologies and novel analytics.
  • Systems Serology: High-throughput biophysical profiling and functional assays linked with systems biology/machine learning algorithms to characterize protective humoral immune responses.
  • Vaccine Immunology Statistical Center: Access expert biostatistical support for study design, data management, high-dimensional data analysis, statistical and machine learning methods to advance global health research.
  • HTS Teratogenicity Assessment: High-throughput imaging-based teratogenicity platform utilizing Human iPSCs for assessing reproductive and developmental toxicity.
  • Humanized Drug Metabolism Mice: A humanized mouse model that expresses human P450 enzymes and metabolizes drugs like humans, gives human-like pharmacokinetics, and generates human drug metabolites in vivo.
  • Enabling mRNA Immunogens: A solution for formulating high-quality research-grade mRNA-LNP immunogens for preclinical research studies.

We will not consider funding for:

  • Clinical trials
  • In-vivo studies in non-human primates
  • Investigators whose primary appointment is in a high-income country institution
  • Proposals that do not include the use of the Collaboratory Platforms
  • Proposals that do not align with the scope/remit of the Collaboratory Platforms
  • Purchase of capital equipment
  • Institutions that are unable to sign the Collaboratory Guiding Principles by the time of grant execution.

[1]See World Bank - Low & Middle Income Countries for definitions. Subject to the eligibility requirements in the Rules & Guidelines, investigators in low- and middle-income countries are invited (in connection with the organization with which they are affiliated) to apply through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's application portal. We reserve the right to determine eligibility for this call based on these characteristics.


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