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Gates Foundation hands out prizes for health ideas

More than 100 prize winners were selected for their proposals on how to best transform health care.

If you've got a good idea to improve global health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is ready to pony up serious money to see it through to completion.

The foundation announced Wednesday that it has chosen 104 scientists from 22 nations across five continents to receive $100,000 each. This is the first round in what will become a regular practice as the foundation seeks to develop what it calls transformational ideas that will help revolutionize health care.

Andrew Serazin Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

"We have a few examples of ideas which will turn conventional wisdom on its head and seek an alternative approach to a long-standing problem," said Andrew Serazin, program officer at the Gates Foundation. "The transformational part of that is something which is a little bit of an unconventional approach that can lead to having a long-term health impact."

Given the strength of the ideas sent in, Serazin said, the foundation handed out grants to about twice as many people as it originally planned in this round.

"It's hard to say what the future numbers will be though each round," he said, adding that it will depends upon the quality of the submissions. More than 4,000 proposals were sent in.

"One great thing about the program is the opportunity for really anyone with an idea to apply for funding," he added. "We're very open to as broad a set of ideas as possible...whether it be from a Nobel laureate or a grad student--we want to hear from them."

Among the winners, my personal favorite concerned one Hiroyuki Matsuoka from Jichi Medical University in Japan. He believes it may be possible to turn mosquitoes that normally transmit disease into "flying syringes," so that when they bite humans, they instead deliver vaccines.

You can find the full list of the funded projects at