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Friday December 03, 2010

Nanochip project to speed malaria diagnosis

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An RMIT University researcher has received a $US100,000 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant to help develop a nanochip biosensor for detecting malaria.

Dr Vipul Bansal's project was one of 65 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fifth funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries.

Dr Bansal has proposed a nano-biotechnology enabled transformational approach to develop a low-cost, ultra-fast, disposable, nanochip biosensor that can be non-invasively used to detect malaria and other infectious diseases with ultra-high selectivity and sensitivity.

"If successful, a battery-powered, non-invasive finger scanner can be developed in the next stage of the project, and this invention can potentially revolutionise the way infectious diseases are currently diagnosed, particularly in the developing world," he said.

Dr Bansal is a Senior Lecturer at RMIT's School of Applied Sciences and an early career APD Fellow of the Australian Research Council, who has received more than $2.5 million in competitive grant funding in the past two years.

He is also Bionanotechnology program leader in the Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry Group, led by Professor Suresh Bhargava, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor International in the College of Science, Engineering and Health.

Dr Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program, said: "These are bold ideas from innovative thinkers, which is exactly what we need in global health research right now.

"I'm excited to see some of these daring projects develop into life-saving breakthroughs for those who need them the most."

Dr Bansal will collaborate on the research with Pro Vice-Chancellor Science, Engineering and Health and Vice-President, Professor Peter Coloe, and Professor Bhargava. Professor Ning Gu from China's Southeast University will also be involved in the project.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote innovation in global health. The next round of Grand Challenges Explorations opens in March.

Source: RMIT University;ID=hvo620o5z3ea;STATUS=A

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