The foundation is inviting scientists with unorthodox approaches to the issue to apply for small, but quickly awarded grants to further their research, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The Grand Challenges Explorations program is open to all applicants but is primarily focused on researchers in disease-stricken parts of Africa and Asia, where funding is hard to come by.
"Talent is grouped in great institutions, but not all of it," Bill Gates said. "There's a real logic to being where a disease exists."
Gates said he also hopes the grant program will encourage scientists in the poor nations to remain at home rather than seeking more gainful employment overseas.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, welcomed the new program.
"The Gates program is a welcome move toward trying to fund new and high-risk ideas," he said.
MAVEN now orbiting Mars