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Innovators funded to develop bold, out-of-the-box ideas to save lives in developing countries

Grand Challenges Canada today announced 15 grants valued in total at more than $1.5 million awarded to some of Canada's most creative innovators from across the country in support of their work to improve global health conditions.

"When you look at the range of innovations and the potential those creative ideas have to make a difference, Canadians can't help but be proud of our country's contribution to the health and well-being of the international community," said Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada. "Bold Canadian ideas with big impact can save lives."

The researchers are each awarded a $100,000 grant to further develop their innovations, which include:

  • Dr. Walter Karlen (Vancouver, BC) is developing a low-cost cell phone test to diagnose pneumonia in the developing world
  • Dr. Aman Ullah (Edmonton, AB) is developing a filter made from chicken feathers to eliminate the deadly carcinogen, arsenic, from drinking water
  • Dr.Karim Damji (Edmonton, AB) is developing methodologies for preventing and treating glaucoma, a major cause of blindness in poor countries
  • Dr. Karim S. Karim (Waterloo, ON) is working on a device for rapid TB detection through digital imaging, a low-cost and effective diagnostic
  • Dr. Jan Andrysek (Toronto, ON) is creating an inexpensive and effective artificial knee joint for disabled people in the developing world
  • Dr. Cedric Yansouni (Montreal, QB) is working on a diagnostic that is cost effective and non-invasive to determine whether a patient has visceral leishmaniasis, a deadly disease
  • Dr. David Richard (Quebec City, QB) is working on a low-cost vaccine for malaria, a disease that infects 216 million people a year and kills 655,000 annually.

Each grantee has created a two-minute video to explain his or her proposal. The videos can be seen at

"Grand Challenges Canada is proud to be supporting these extraordinary ideas," said Joseph L. Rotman, Chair of Grand Challenges Canada. "Our Canada's Rising Stars in Global Health program is designed to tap into the creativity, skills and dedication of these early career innovators. Canada has so much talent and so much to offer to the world."

"The range and diversity among Grand Challenges Canada's Rising Stars in Global Health demonstrates the depth of Canada's commitment to improving the lives of those living in developing countries," said the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Co-operation. "Throughout our history, Canadian ingenuity and innovation has made a significant contribution to advance global health. I have every confidence that through Grand Challenges Canada, our best minds will help further the progress achieved and help us realize a healthier world in the future."

The grantees were selected through a rigorous peer review process. Among the criteria the proposals needed to meet were Grand Challenges Canada's Integrated Innovation (TM) approach, which smoothes the path to implementation of the discovery. Innovators must consider ethical and cultural barriers, the health systems required to deliver the discoveries and the commercialization of their solutions so that they can be distributed to the people who need them, cost-effectively.

If their ideas are effective and proven, the innovators will be eligible for an additional Grand Challenges Canada scale-up grant of $1 million. This is the second round of Canada's Rising Stars in Global Health grants.

Grand Challenges Canada is funded by the Government of Canada through the Development Innovation Fund announced in the 2008 Federal Budget.


Contact: Lyn Whitham
Sandra Rotman Centre for Global Health

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