Prakash wins Gates grant for paper microscope development

- By Kris Newby

Manu Prakash

Manu Prakash, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering, has received a grant from the Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GCE is designed to promote exploration of bold and innovative ways to improve global health.

The $100,000 award announced Nov. 1 will allow Prakash and his team to field test an ultra-low-cost paper microscope to aid disease diagnosis in developing regions.
Prakash's lightweight, print-and-fold microscope — or "Foldscope" as he calls it — can be shipped flat and assembled in minutes. The team will test the microscope in India, Thailand and Uganda, and will assimilate user feedback to help refine the design for mass production. If the pilot is successful, Prakash will have the opportunity to apply for a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

To receive funding, Prakash and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners in this round had to demonstrate, in just two pages, a creative idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas. Among these areas were agriculture, immunization and communications.

Applications for the next round of grants are due Nov. 7. More information on applying for the grants is available online at

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2023 ISSUE 2

How the environment and health interact