Major Programs under

Grand Challenges India (GCI) - the flagship program

Grand Challenges India (GCI) program is the flagship program managed by the PMU at BIRAC for the Department of Biotechnology and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partnership.

GCI is the Indian arm of the Global Grand Challenges program launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Foundation launched Grand Challenges, as Grand Challenges in Global health in 2003, to focus on 14 major scientific challenges that if solved, could lead to improving the health of people in the developing world. Today, Grand Challenges has awarded 44 grants with a total funding of over $450 million across 33 countries for research projects during the course of its existence. The scope of the program has also expanded over the last decade to include challenges to global development along with global health.

Grand Challenges India was launched with the aim of fostering Indian innovation and research to develop affordable and sustainable solutions to improve health, in India and across the globe.

The ambit of Grand Challenges India is varied and includes health and development priorities. These include; maternal and child health, infectious diseases, vaccines, point-of-care diagnostics, agricultural development, food and nutrition, among others.

GCI is committed to seeking and rewarding both established researchers and young entrepreneurs, and other innovators, with the overall goal of expanding the pipeline of ideas for developing new preventive and curative therapies, piloting new technologies, and researching new ideas.

GCI supports projects under specific calls or programs by providing financial support in the form of grants, cooperative agreements and contracts, which are co-funded by the partner organizations or funded individually. PMU-BIRAC is responsible for managing these projects and providing technical and financial oversight.

The following are the three Grand Challenges India calls managed by the PMU at BIRAC. Please click on the individual links for more details on each. 

AGN- Achieving Healthy Growth through Agriculture and Nutrition
RTTC- Reinvent the Toilet Challenge
ACT- All Children Thriving
Immunization Data: Innovating for Action (IDIA)
Grand Challenges India call on Antimicrobial Resistance
Grand Challenges India call on ki (knowledge integration) Data Challenge

Knowledge Integration and Translational Platform

KnIT is a unique platform that has been launched with the aim of collating and analyzing available evidence within India, to inform policymakers and health authorities and aid in the development of evidence-based policy to address the inequalities in the health outcomes in our country.

The platform will work by collecting and analyzing currently available evidence, identifying gaps in our knowledge and directing research to these areas, and will work to improve our understanding of current or new interventions or packages of interventions to address the inequalities in our healthcare system.

This platform was launched in 2016 and will specifically target the Indian State Governments for development and implementation of cost-effective, sustainable interventions or packages of multi-sectoral health interventions. The platform will work by conducting extensive systematic reviews and will conduct workshops and other meetings to widely share the findings of these studies.

Currently, KnIT focuses on two tracks, maternal and child health issues and nutrition. MCH focuses on identifying the health system challenges that are barriers to effective, equitable, impactful delivery of health services and identifies strategies how to overcome them. It also focuses on designing delivery strategies based on evidence, and piloting and evaluating programs aimed at improving program delivery, directing implementation research to optimize primary and secondary level healthcare, and generating evidence-based, human resource linked strategies relevant to MCH. The Nutrition track examines public health and medical interventions to mitigate stunting, wasting, severe malnutrition, low birth weight, optimal body composition and metabolic unfitness or obesity. In addition KnIT also aims to address multi-sectoral interventions for health; nutrition; family planning; water and sanitation hygiene; air pollution; child development; food fortification; and agri-nutrition linkages.

Currently, the Society for Applied Studies (SAS) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) are the two domain centers that are working on the nutrition track and the Maternal and child health track respectively.