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Family Health International Receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for Innovative Global Health Research Project Led by David Sokal, M.D.
Date:5/28/2009

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., MAY 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Family Health International announced today that it has received a US$100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support an innovative global health research project led by David C. Sokal, M.D., studying a novel approach to inactivate HIV with minimal interference during breastfeeding.

Dr. Sokal's project is one of 81 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the second funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. The grants were provided to scientists in 17 countries on six continents.

To receive funding, Dr. Sokal and his team showed in a two-page application how their idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving more than 3,000 proposals in this round.

The idea for the "Just Milk" project was born in the summer of 2008 when Dr. Sokal and a team of young engineers at an MIT workshop explored various alternatives for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV during breastfeeding. The team focused on modifying an existing nipple shield by putting a porous felt-like material in its tip and saturating the material with a commonly used compound that can inactivate HIV without harming the child. The researchers for the project are also looking into other potential applications of the device including delivery of nutritional supplements and pediatric medicine. Carol Joanis and Mary Lynn Baniecki, Ph.D. of Family Health International have joined the initial team to work on acceptability and laboratory aspects of the project, respectively. External partners on the grant include Sandra Urdaneta Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D. at Drexe
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SOURCE Family Health International
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