Press Release

February 5, 2015

GHIT Fund Launches Target Research Platform in partnership with Grand Challenges

 GHIT Fund Launches Target Research Platform in partnership with Grand Challenges to Harness Cutting-edge Solutions for Neglected Diseases 


Advances bold, new ways to tackle diseases that kill the world’s poor,  

From malaria and TB to Chagas disease and leishmaniasis



TOKYO, JAPAN (February 5, 2015)—The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) today announced the launch of a Grand Challenges initiative to spur bold solutions for infectious diseases that affect the world’s poor. GHIT Fund is a unique public health partnership that is bringing Japanese know-how and investment to the global fight against infectious diseases.


The GHIT Fund’s “Target Research Platform in Partnership with Grand Challenges” will invest up to ¥100 million (US$1million) for early stage development of radically new and improved drugs, vaccines or diagnostics to prevent and treat infectious diseases that are prevalent in developing countries. GHIT will award approximately ¥200 million (US$2 million) in Grand Challenges grant investments per year. These projects will then graduate into GHIT’s regular investment program which invests in a pipeline of new tools for neglected diseases.


First launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 10 years ago, the Grand Challenges contest was created to foster creative and daring breakthroughs to help solve the world’s most pressing global health and development problems. Since then, more than 2,000 grants have been awarded in some 80 countries with many organizations and nations, from India to Brazil to Canada, modeling their own Grand Challenges on the same ideal. Grand Challenges initiatives have ranged from reformulating a tuberculosis vaccine into an inhalable aerosol spray to a new method for controlling malaria: giving humans a drug that makes their blood poisonous to the mosquitoes that carry the disease.


The GHIT Fund’s Grand Challenges is the first for Japan and will harness Japanese innovation and global collaboration to target malaria, tuberculosis, Chagas disease and visceral leishmaniasis, diseases that sicken and kill the poorest people in the world. The investments will support global partnerships between Japanese and non-Japanese organizations.

“Grand Challenges have already sparked groundbreaking new approaches to confronting the most serious global health threats,” said Dr. BT Slingsby, CEO and executive director of the GHIT Fund. “Grand Challenges offers a model on which we can expand our grant-making from supporting product development to supporting a crucial, earlier phase of R&D—discovery of new approaches, concepts, constructs and solutions to fight neglected infectious disease.”


Applications Now Open

“We welcome Japan’s role in using Grand Challenges to catalyze its enormous capacity to tackle neglected diseases that sicken and kill the poorest people in the world,” said Dr. Trevor Mundel, president of the global health division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’ve seen over the decade how Grand Challenges fosters visionary ideas toward solving major global health problems. This new platform in partnership with Grand Challenges will bring together trailblazers with unique and powerful scientific expertise to come up with possible solutions.”


The application for the GHIT Fund’s “Target Research Platform in Partnership with Grand Challenges,” opened today with the first round of investments expected to be announced in August 2015. Applicants must submit an “Intent to Apply” form by March 13, 2015. Visit to view the request for proposal.


* At the exchange rate of USD1 = JPY100.