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Washington University School of Medicine, in Collaboration with MediBeacon, Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

(ST. LOUIS, June 4, 2014) – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Phillip I. Tarr MD, director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with MediBeacon LLC, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project for monitoring human gut permeability.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Over 1,700 applications were submitted this year. Dr. Tarr’s project is one of about 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Dr. Tarr and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, behavior change and looking into animal and human health. Applications for the next round will be accepted starting in September.

Dr. Tarr, who is also the Melvin E. Carnahan Professor of Pediatrics and a professor of molecular microbiology at the School of Medicine, said: "Children in low- and middle-income countries frequently have increased gut permeability, which is believed to underlie intestinal dysfunction and poor growth. However, there are many challenges in trying to measure gut permeability with the current tools. I look forward to tackling these challenges by applying novel fluorescence detection technology from MediBeacon, and I am grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges program for the support to do so."

There is growing research connecting abnormal gut permeability to other disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases, especially Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease. Richard Dorshow, PhD, MediBeacon’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, said: “The ability to measure a patient’s gut function noninvasively without the need for time-consuming and often impractical fluid collection and analytics would be a large step forward. We are excited about the potential to help patients in less developed countries by increasing our understanding of methods to monitor different gastrointestinal diseases using MediBeacon’s technology.”

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About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 950 people in more than 55 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. 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 US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.

About MediBeacon, LLC

MediBeacon LLC is focused on providing clinicians with critical information to improve patient care. MediBeacon has completed initial human trials on its noninvasive point-of-care kidney function monitoring system. The company holds 16 US patents, 35 global patents and has 50 pending patent applications. MediBeacon was initially funded by the St Louis Development Corp., St Louis BioGenerator, the Missouri Technology Corp. and the Helix Fund. MediBeacon is housed within the Helix Center Biotech Incubator in St. Louis. Information regarding MediBeacon can be found at

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Steve Hanley
MediBeacon LLC
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