UC Receives Grand Challenges Exploration Grant for Global Health

Jennifer Brown, PhD

Jennifer Brown, PhD, in the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

The University of Cincinnati announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Jennifer Brown, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Family Planning Needs of South African Adolescent Girls.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Brown’s project is one of more than 55 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 17 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Brown and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of six critical global heath and development topic areas. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in February 2017.

Globally, South African adolescent girls have some of the highest rates of both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV). Such outcomes can result in numerous adverse health or socioeconomic consequences including elevated risk of maternal and infant mortality, decreased educational attainment and exacerbation of poverty, among others.

“There is a lack of research examining the broader cultural influences on the family planning needs of this population,” says Brown. “The primary aim of this study is to use a novel methodology to expound on the culturally relevant factors associated with the contraceptive practices of South African adolescent girls between the ages of 14 and 17, who are at increased risk for unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.”

The study is a collaboration with Lochner Marais, PhD, professor at the University of the Free State in South Africa; Jessica Sales, PhD, associate professor at Emory University; and Carla Sharp, PhD, professor at the University of Houston.

About Grand Challenges Explorations
Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1228 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.

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