The search for solutions to major health problems – many of which plague southern Africa – has received a major fillip from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has set aside $100-miilion to help scientists pursue new ideas.
Dubbed Grand Challenged Explorations, the initiative is looking for grant proposals. 

Initial grants through the Explorations initiative will be $100 000.00 each, and projects showing success will have the opportunity to receive additional funding of $1-million or more.
The initiative will use an agile, accelerated grant-making process – applications will be two pages, and preliminary data are not required. The foundation will select and award grants within about three months from the proposal submission deadline of 30 May 2008.
Breakthrough ideas can come from anywhere, and we hope this new process will encourage a broad range of scientists from around the world to bring their ideas to the table," says Dr Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program.  "We're especially interested in reaching people who work outside the field of global health, innovators in the developing world, and young investigators."
The first funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations will consider proposals in four topic areas:
* Creating new ways to protect against infectious diseases: Untried or unproven approaches to protect against infectious diseases, including harnessing natural or synthetic immune responses, or eliminating the need for an effective immune response.
* Creating drugs or delivery systems that limit the emergence of resistance: Innovative ideas for discovering or delivering drugs that are less likely to lose effectiveness because of resistance developing in the disease-causing agent.
* Creating new ways to prevent or cure HIV infection: Innovative ideas for HIV prevention or treatment methods that fall outside current research on vaccines, antiretroviral drugs, and other biomedical and behavior-change strategies.
* Exploring the basis for latency in TB: Unconventional approaches to understanding latent TB infection, with the goal of discovering new ways to identify and eliminate latent infection, and break the cycle of TB transmission.