Georgia Institute of Technology Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Funding

Assistant Professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Mark Styczynski Will Pursue an Innovative Global Health Research Project


Josie Giles
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
(404) 385-2299 

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About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to nearly 500 researchers from over 40 countries. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short, two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have an opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.


Summary Sentence:

Assistant Professor Mark Styczynski will pursue an innovative global health research project, titled “Pigment-Based, Low-Cost, Portable Nutrition Status Tests.”

Full Summary:

Assistant Professor Mark Styczynski will pursue an innovative global health research project, titled “Pigment-Based, Low-Cost, Portable Nutrition Status Tests.”

  • Dr. Mark Styczynski Dr. Mark Styczynski
  • Dr. Mark Styczynski working in his lab. Dr. Mark Styczynski working in his lab.

Georgia Institute of Technology announces that it will receive funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that enables researchers worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges. Dr. Mark Styczynski, assistant professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, will pursue an innovative global health research project, titled “Pigment-Based, Low-Cost, Portable Nutrition Status Tests.”

Grand Challenges Explorations funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Styczynski’s project is one of 108 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced in November 2011 as part of Round 7 of the program.

“We believe in the power of innovation—that a single bold idea can pioneer solutions to our greatest health and development challenges,” said Chris Wilson, Director of Global Health Discovery for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Grand Challenges Explorations seeks to identify and fund these new ideas wherever they come from, allowing scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs to pursue the kinds of creative ideas and novel approaches that could help to accelerate the end of polio, cure HIV infection, or improve sanitation.”

Projects that are receiving funding show promise in tackling priority global health issues where solutions do not yet exist. This includes finding effective methods to eliminate or control infectious diseases such as polio and HIV as well as discovering new sanitation technologies.

To learn more about Grand Challenges Explorations, visit

Styczynski’s project proposes to create portable, low-cost, bacteria-based genetic circuits to measure blood micronutrient levels without requiring sophisticated instrumentation to perform or read the test. These circuits would provide an inexpensive, rapid method to diagnose nutrition levels, such as vitamins and minerals, in the field.

“Sophisticated equipment is not easily operated in the field, which means that samples must be sent to regional labs for nutritional analysis, resulting in delays of potentially life-saving treatment,” Styczynski says. “We are looking to enable more point-of-care diagnostics using synthetic biology to eliminate the long wait and enable more rapid diagnosis and treatment of those with deficiencies.”

Styczynski received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007. He joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2009 after a postdoctoral appointment at the Broad Institute, a world-renowned genomic medicine research center located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
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biomedical, Biomolecular, chbe, chemical, chemical & biomolecular engineering, Gates Foundation, global health, Mark Styczynski, nutrition, Research
  • Created By: Josie Giles
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jan 18, 2012 - 6:20am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:10pm