M A I N   N E W S

Health Innovations
Two Indian scientists get Bill Gates’ grant
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, November 9
Two Indian scientists are among the 67 selected from 16 countries by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for award of their research grants to boost innovations in global health improvement.

Both the Indians, IIT’s Sujoy Guha (professor in medical science and tecnology) and HLL Lifecare’s Abi Santosh Aprem, have each bagged the grant of one lakh US dollar each for their pursuit to create new technologies for contraception.

Guha will test a new trans-cervical contraceptive made from a polymer compound for its ability to incapacitate both sperm and ovum. The novel compound is delivered to the fallopian tubes in liquid form, changed to a semi-solid form with an external application of radio frequency and can be flushed out for fast and complete reversibility.

Abi Santosh will attempt to eliminate the side effects associated with copper T intrauterine contraceptive devices by coating the copper with biodegradable polymers. The polymers could prevent bulk shedding of copper ions that cause bleeding, cramping and pain, leading to increased acceptance of this highly effective contraceptive device.

The grants announced globally here tonight support projects in 16 countries with ideas as diverse as a TB vaccine delivered in a traditional Asian bean dish, a mobile phone tool to identify complications for community health workers caring for pregnant women and newborns and solar powered, therapeutic blankets of light for newborns suffering from jaundice.

“The Grand Challenges Explorations is producing innovative ways to tackle ongoing global health challenges like vaccine delivery and caring for mothers and newborns,” said president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program Dr Tachi Yamada. “By applying mobile technology and other tools to global health, we hope to produce breakthrough solutions that could save countless lives,” he added.

In five rounds of the foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, 405 researchers representing 34 countries have been awarded grants. The projects in this round include developing a synthetic lymph node to deliver vaccines, creating a low cost needle-free treatment for post-partum bleeding, and making a mobile phone-based tool that combines diagnostic testing with economic incentives to improve drug compliance.

These grantees were selected from more than 2,400 proposals. Wide ranges of disciplines are represented, including applicants from traditional life sciences, public health, engineering, math and computer sciences. They are based at universities, research institutes, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, and private companies around the world.

Among other winners are Michael Chan of the Ohio State Research Foundation who will develop a safe strain of the Tuberculosis bacterium and use it to ferment beans used in the traditional Asian dish natto, which could then be eaten as an oral TB vaccine and Abdul Quaiyum of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh will develop and test an inexpensive, biodegradable absorbent mat that can be placed under mothers, who have just delivered babies to assess immediate postpartum blood loss.





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