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Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. Each initiative is an experiment in the use of challenges to focus innovation on making an impact. Individual challenges address some of the same problems, but from differing perspectives.


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Challenges: Crop Biofortification
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Development of Bananas with Optimised Bioavailable Micronutrients

James Dale, Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
Jul 1, 2005

Bananas are the major staple food in Uganda, where the average person consumes more than 1 kilogram of the fruit each day. Banana-based diets, however, are deficient in vitamin A and iron, as well as in vitamin E. A promising long-term solution to this problem may be to genetically modify crops, including bananas, so that they contain high levels of essential nutrients. Dr. Dale is leading a team of scientists in Australia, Uganda, and the United States who are attempting to genetically modify bananas raised in Uganda so that their content of vitamin A, vitamin E, and iron is equal to or exceeds the required daily allowance. Dale, Tushemereirwe (Grand Challenges in Global Health: 2005-2015 retrospective)

Engineering Rice for High Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E and Enhanced Fe and Zn Bioavailability

Peter Beyer, Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg (Freiburg, Germany)
Jul 1, 2005

Although rice is a primary source of food for much of the world's population, it is a poor source of many essential micronutrients, as well as protein. As a result, widespread reliance on rice is the primary cause of micronutrient malnutrition throughout much of the developing world. Dr. Beyer is leading an international, collaborative effort called the ProVitaMinRice Consortium. The consortium's members are developing new varieties of rice with increased levels or bioavailability of pro-vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, and zinc as well improved protein quality and content. As their platform, the consortium's researchers are using Golden Rice, which has been genetically engineered to produce and accumulate pro-vitamin A in the grain, and are working with novel transgene-based technologies to enhance the availability of the target nutrients.

Improving Cassava for Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Development

Richard Sayre, Ohio State University Research Foundation & Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (St. Louis, Mississippi, United States)
Jul 1, 2005

Poor nutrition is a major global health problem, contributing to half of the nearly 10 million deaths that occur each year in children younger than 5 and much of the death disease and suffering impacting sub-Saharan Africa. A starchy root crop called cassava is the major source of calories for more than 250 million Africans in this region, but cassava has the lowest protein-to-energy ratio of any staple crop. Dr. Sayre is leading a multidisciplinary team of scientists, brought together as BioCassava Plus, that is working to create nutritious cassava for sub-Saharan Africa. Team members are screening additional transgenic plants and expect that complimentary genetic strategies currently underway will soon yield plants that achieve their targeted levels of iron, zinc, and protein.

Nutritionally Enhanced Sorghum for the Arid and Semi-Arid Tropical Areas of Africa

Paul Anderson, Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International (Nairobi, Kenya)
Jul 1, 2005

More than 300 million people in arid and semi-arid regions of Africa rely on sorghum as their primary source of food. The grain is one of the few crops that grow well in arid climates, but it is deficient in most essential nutrients and is difficult to digest. The African Bio-fortified Sorghum (ABS) Project, a consortium of nine institutions led by Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International, is working to develop new varieties of sorghum that are easier to digest and contain higher levels of vitamins A and E, iron, zinc, and the essential amino acids lysine, threonine, and tryptophan.

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View the Grand Challenges partnership network

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.