What's the Latest Development?

Last week the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a "grand challenge" to find newer and more user-friendly designs for the common condom. Interested parties have until May 7 to submit an application that includes a basic proof-of-concept, and the winners will get $100,000 to further flesh out their ideas. Challenge coordinators Stephen Ward and Papa Salif Sow hope to get lots of entries, and as of right now they're open to all ideas no matter how impractical they may sound. "We're looking for a couple of experiments to show the idea has legs," says Ward.

What's the Big Idea?

Despite the fact that condoms are one of the simplest and best methods of protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, many men don't like wearing them for a variety of reasons. This is especially problematic in the developing world, where HIV is still a real threat. Ward says that the challenge gives "an opportunity for people in all areas of research to think about a problem they might not have thought about before...If we could make something better, we could have a really substantial effect on HIV prevention and unintended pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia."

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