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Grand Challenges Canada announces innovative rising stars in global health

From a tattoo that delivers drugs to combat the debilitating and disfiguring leishmaniasis disease; to solar powered tablets to train women in Haiti on HIV prevention; to a rugged, reliable fetal heart monitor that doesn't require electricity in order to save babies' lives in Africa, Canadian innovators demonstrate creativity, bold ideas and big hearts in the quest to make a difference in the developing world and save lives.

Today Grand Challenges Canada announces 19 grants totalling more than $2 million to Canadian innovators in the first phase of its Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health initiative.

The 19 projects being funded (detailed at

  • Using mobile phone text messaging to reduce maternal and infant deaths in remote areas in China
  • Water and power: Energy-efficient water purification developed for point-of-care and scaled for public health
  • The use of a permanent make-up (or tattoo) device to target drug delivery against cutaneous leishmaniasis
  • mHealth for maternal and newborn health: Using mobile phones to support community health workers in kenya
  • Integration of pulse oximetry into the routine assessment of sick young infants at first-level clinics in Karachi, Pakistan
  • PPAR-gamma agonists for the treatment of cerebral malaria tweaking the host response to save brains
  • Saving mothers: Preventing maternal mortality in rural Africa
  • A primary care toolkit to tackle child labour and promote health equity
  • Egg-free production of influenza vaccines using viral sensitizer technology : A reliable and affordable solution for developing countries
  • To develop a synergistic, innovative, implementation strategy for self testing for HIV in South Africa.
  • A low-cost, multiplexed, point-of-care test for extra-pulmonary tuberculosis
  • The world's first free university
  • Paper as enabling platform for cell-based assays for basic research and medical diagnostics in resource-limited environments
  • Development of non-invasive diagnostic device for Diabetes
  • Development and evaluation of a tablet-based, community health worker delivered HIV/STI prevention intervention for women living in internally displaced persons camps in Leogane, Haiti
  • Revamping an old tool: point-of-care molecular diagnostics in blood capillary tubes
  • The fetal heart monitor project human energy to save lives
  • Kumasi & Accra project to prevent AIDS (KAPPA): A social network-based intervention to prevent HIV among men who have sex with men
  • New therapeutic drug combinations for tuberculosis treatment.

"When I ran the in the Olympic Torch Relay with my wife Sandra, we felt a sense of pride in Canada as we had never felt before," says Joseph L. Rotman, Chair of Grand Challenges Canada. "I feel the same sense of pride about these outstanding Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health who demonstrate the leadership Canadians can and do contribute to the international community."

Says Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada: "These innovators are dedicated to bringing change to the world's poorest countries. They believe Canada has a leadership role in improving health conditions in the developing world. Collectively they are a source of pride for our country."

"We are enabling Canadians to make their contribution to global health challenges, in collaboration with colleagues in low- and middle-income countries. Grand Challenges Canada is just beginning to tap that potential," says Dr. Singer.

In a first for a Canadian grant application process, these innovators each produced a short video to explain their ideas to Canadians. These videos are as creative as the ideas proposed, showing our innovators in a new engaging light. To watch the videos visit

Through a rigorous peer review process, nineteen innovators' proposals were selected from across Canada each receiving a grant of $100,000. Their ideas are innovative, plan to address barriers to implementation such as community values and ethics, the health systems required to deliver the discoveries, and cost-effective commercialization of their solutions Challenges Canada calls this Integrated Innovation, an approach which improves the success rate of discoveries. If their ideas are robust, effective, and proven, the innovators will be eligible for an additional scaleup grant of up to $1 million for each proposal.

There will be three rounds of Canadian Rising Stars for a total of $20 million. Of this amount, approximately $14 million will be available for scale-up grants.

Grand Challenges Canada is a new global health organization funded by Canada's foreign aid budget. Its purpose is to fund research to address some of the most difficult global health issues through Integrated Innovation and save lives. Canada is the first country in the world to adopt a grand challenges approach to foreign aid.

Grand Challenges Canada participates in a consortium with Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Mr. David Malone, President of IDRC, joins Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of CIHR in congratulating the new grantees.

"The grant recipients have all displayed enormous creativity and commitment to solving global health challenges," says Dr. Beaudet. "It is exciting and very rewarding to have the opportunity to encourage them in their work."

Adds Mr. Malone: "We're very pleased to see Grand Challenges Canada, Canada's International Development Research Centre and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research take a 'whole of Canada' approach to creating the Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health initiative and supporting Canadians' contribution to global health."

Today Grand Challenges Canada is also announcing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Round 2 of Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health. In Round 2, proposal submissions will require developing world innovators to collaborate with Canadians on their bold ideas.


Contact: Lyn Whitham
McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health

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