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OUHSC receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant for innovative global health research

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center 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 conducted by Sunil K. Joshi, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, titled "Development of Safe, Cost-effective, and Functional Strategy for Immune Intervention."

Joshi's project is one of 78 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fourth 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 18 countries on six continents.

To receive funding, Joshi showed in a two-page application how his idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving almost 2,700 proposals in this round.

In developing and poor countries, the majority of the population has impaired or weak immunity against infectious diseases due to malnutrition, overcrowding, poor socio-economic and poor hygienic conditions. These populations are at increased risk for infections, and they can experience more severe and complicated courses of disease.

Despite the success of many vaccines in developed countries, vaccination to prevent infectious diseases in poor countries has had limited success. This project will explore the implications of using an Electric Wave-Pulse to stimulate immune-cells to boost immunity with minimal adverse effects on human health and in a cost-effective manner.

"Receipt of a Grand Challenges Exploration award is a considerable honor for Dr. Joshi and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. We anticipate, and are excited by the prospect, that Dr. Joshi will use his novel idea to develop improved vaccines against infectious pathogens that present global health problems," said Professor and Chair Jimmy Ballard, Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

"The winners of these grants show the bold thinking we need to tackle some of the world's greatest health challenges," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. "I'm excited about their ideas and look forward to seeing some of these exploratory projects turn into life-saving breakthroughs."


Contact: Jana Smith
University of Oklahoma

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