Project updates

Final update about the Grand Challenges Explorations grant

posted Jan 16, 2013, 11:31 AM by James Tsuruta

Project update (2013-01-16):  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has reviewed our Phase II application to continue this project.  The Foundation has decided to focus their funding on "female-controlled" methods of contraception and will not continue to fund male contraception research projects.  We thank the Grand Challenges Explorations grant program and the Parsemus Foundation for their funding which enabled us to publish a manuscript in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology that is considered "highly accessed" and presents many of our findings. 

We hope to secure funding from other sources to continue research into the utility of therapeutic ultrasound as a contraceptive.

Thanks for visiting the site and for all your expressions of support for this line of research!


James Tsuruta, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
The Laboratories for Reproductive Biology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Here's a nicely written Press Release

posted Jan 31, 2012, 6:02 AM by James Tsuruta

Click here to go to the press release

This press release was put together by the Male Contraception Information Project, an excellent website for the lay person to learn about alternative methods for male contraception.

We've published some of our findings!

posted Jan 31, 2012, 5:54 AM by James Tsuruta   [ updated Jan 31, 2012, 6:17 AM ]

Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, an open access journal that is part of BioMed Central, published our manuscript, " Therapeutic ultrasound as a potential male contraceptive: power, frequency and temperature required to deplete rat testes of meiotic cells and epididymides of sperm determined using a commercially available system" on January 30, 2011.  Here is the citation:  Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2012, 10:7.  If you want to look at the journal article, click the link above!

Gates Foundation extended project to December 31, 2011

posted Jan 31, 2012, 5:45 AM by James Tsuruta   [ updated Jan 31, 2012, 5:46 AM ]

I'm happy to announce that we received a "no-cost extension" to the end of the 2011 calendar year.  This allowed us to continue to spend money from our Grand Challenges Explorations award until that time and gave us more time to complete unfinished experiments. 

Link to the announcement by the Gates Foundation

posted May 12, 2010, 12:31 PM by Web Master   [ updated May 12, 2010, 12:33 PM ]

Press Release

London Contact: Matti Ojanen 
Phone: +44 (0) 207 067 0195 
Seattle Contact: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 
Phone: +1 (206) 709-3400 
Gates Foundation Funds 78 New Innovative Global Health Projects Including Cell Phone Blood Tests, Carnivorous Plants and Sweat-triggered Vaccines 
Grants from 18 countries poised to help prevent and diagnose infectious disease and promote family health
London, 11 May 2010 –  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced 78 grants of US$100,000 each in the latest round of Grand Challenges Explorations. Grants include the development of a low-cost cell phone microscope to diagnose malaria, study of the strategic placement of insect-eating plants to reduce insect-borne diseases, and investigation of nanoparticles to release vaccines when they come in contact with human sweat. The grants support research across 18 countries and six continents.

“Grand Challenges Explorations continues to generate unique and creative ways to tackle global health issues,” said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. “We are convinced that some of these ideas will lead to new innovations and eventually solutions that will save lives.”

This year’s European grantees are based at universities, research institutes and non-profit organizations. The winners represent groups in Germany, Sweden, Norway and the UK.

Some examples of the breadth of projects funded this round include:

More effective vaccines:

  • Sweat-triggered vaccine delivery: Carlos Alberto Guzman of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany with Claus-Michael Lehr and Steffi Hansen of the Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research will develop nanoparticles that penetrate the skin through hair follicles and burst upon contact with human sweat to release vaccines.
  • A “seek-and-destroy” laser vaccine: Owain Millington and Gail McConnell of University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom will use existing imaging systems to identify and destroy Leishmania parasites with a targeted laser;
  • Treating worm infections to improve vaccine effectiveness: Susanne Nylén Spoormaker of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden will research whether treating patients for worm infections prior to vaccinations can improve the ability of the immune system to respond effectively to vaccines.

New strategies to fight malaria:

  •  Insecticide-treated traditional scarves: David Sintasath of the Malaria Consortium in Thailandwill research whether treating traditional scarves worn by migrant workers along the Thai-Cambodia border with insecticides will reduce the rate of drug-resistant malaria.
  •  Using carnivorous plants to control mosquitoes: Jasper Ogwal-Okeng of Makerere Universityin Uganda will test whether insect-eating plants can reduce the population of malaria transmitting mosquitoes and their larvae.
  • Cell phone microscope to diagnose malaria: Aydogan Ozcan of the University of California, Los Angeles in the U.S. will test a low-cost, compact cell phone microscope to diagnose malaria in field settings.

Solutions to promote family health:

  •  Ultrasound as a reversible male contraceptive: James Tsuruta and Paul Dayton of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the U.S. will study the ability of ultrasound to temporarily deplete testicular sperm counts for possible use as new contraceptive method for men.
  •  Vitamin A probiotics to combat diarrhea: Douglas Watson and colleagues of SRI International in the U.S. will develop probiotic bacteria that produce Vitamin A to stimulate a healthy gastrointestinal tract in children and reduce diarrheal diseases, the second-leading cause of childhood death.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative to promote innovation in global health.  It is part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative which is supported by the Gates Foundation to achieve major breakthroughs in global health.

Applications for the next round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through May 19, 2010.  Topics for Round 5 are:

  • Create Low-Cost Cell Phone-Based Applications for Priority Global Health Conditions
  • Create New Technologies to Improve the Health of Mothers and Newborns
  • Create New Ways to Protect Against Infectious Disease
  • Create New Technologies for Contraception

Grant application instructions, including the list of topic areas in which proposals are currently being accepted, are available at the Grand Challenges Explorations website:


Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at 

For high-resolution still photography and information about the foundation’s work, please

Notes to Editors
This marks the fourth round of grants awarded by the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations program.  Including those announced today, grants have been awarded to 340 researchers from 31 countries.

Grantees from Round 4 were selected from almost 2,700 proposals.  All levels of scientists are represented – from young post-graduate investigators to veteran researchers – as are a wide range of disciplines, such as chemistry, bioengineering, electronics, mechanical engineering, infectious disease, and epidemiology. 

The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline, from student to tenured professor, and from any organization – colleges and universities, government laboratories, research institutions, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies. For additional information, please

Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Grant Awarded

posted May 10, 2010, 10:04 PM by Web Master   [ updated May 11, 2010, 3:49 PM ]

UNC Medical Center News                                                         Link to original article


Media contact: Tom Hughes, (919) 966-6047,


UNC researchers receive $100,000 Grand Challenges Exploration Grant to develop male contraceptive

CHAPEL HILL – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The grant will support an innovative global health research project conducted by James Tsuruta, PhD, and Paul Dayton, PhD, titled “Ultrasound as a long-term, reversible contraceptive.”

Tsuruta is an assistant professor in the Laboratories for Reproductive Biology in UNC’s Department of Pediatrics. Dayton is associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which is jointly housed at UNC and N.C. State University.

Tsuruta and Dayton’s project is one of 78 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fourth 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.  The grants were provided to scientists in 18 countries on six continents.

To receive funding, Tsuruta and Dayton showed in a two-page application how their idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving almost 2,700 proposals in this round.

“Our long-term goal is to use ultrasound from therapeutic instruments that are commonly found in sports medicine or physical therapy clinics as an inexpensive, long-term, reversible male contraceptive suitable for use in developing to first world countries,” said Tsuruta.

“We think this could provide men with up to six months of reliable, low-cost, non-hormonal contraception from a single round of treatment,” Tsuruta said.  Tsuruta notes that the initial idea to re-examine the effects of ultrasound on sperm production came from another private foundation.  “The financial support of the Parsemus Foundation was instrumental in forming a team to study ultrasound’s effect on the testis.  Our pilot studies would not have been possible without the support of Elaine Lissner (Parsemus), David Sokal (Family Health International), Michael Streicker (Integrated Laboratory Systems) and Michael O'Rand (UNC-CH).” 

Tsuruta and Dayton have successfully depleted testicular sperm using therapeutic ultrasound instruments. Once the testis has stopped producing sperm and all “sperm reserves” have been depleted, it is impossible to be fertile. Their Grand Challenges Exploration Grant project is aimed at fine-tuning this technique for maximum effect and safety.

“The winners of these grants show the bold thinking we need to tackle some of the world’s greatest health challenges,” said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program.  “I’m excited about their ideas and look forward to seeing some of these exploratory projects turn into life-saving breakthroughs.”

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote innovation in global health.  The program uses an agile, streamlined grant process – applications are limited to two pages, and preliminary data are not required.  Proposals are reviewed and selected by a committee of foundation staff and external experts, and grant decisions are made within approximately three months of the close of the funding round.

Applications for the current round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through May 19, 2010.  Grant application instructions, including the list of topics for which proposals are currently being accepted, are available at

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