The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund research into next-generation condoms that people can use more effectively to reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. The foundation said it will award a pair $100,000 grants to researchers working on improving condoms, two of 81 grants it announced this week improve global health and development.
One grant goes to Benjamin Strutt and a team from Cambridge Design Partnership in the United Kingdom, who are building a male condom out of a new composite material "that will provide a universal fit and is designed to gently tighten during intercourse, enhancing sensation and reliability," the foundation said. The other grant goes to South Africa's Willem van Rensburg, who is building an applicator called the Rapidom designed to make it easier to put on condoms. The applicator is "designed to be applied with one motion," according to the foundation, "thereby minimizing interruption."
The awards were given as part of the foundation's Global Challenges Explorations, which tackle health problems around the world. Grants were also given to projects focused on making research data easier to share, increasing the productivity of female farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, and the control of tropical diseases, among others. A full list of the award winners can be found here.