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Blog Post

Award Recognizes Efforts to Unite Brazilian Researchers around Global Health Innovation

  • Trevor Mundel, May 6, 2015

It's incredible to think what can be accomplished in just a couple of years. This week, the foundation was honored to receive an award from Hernan Chaimovich, President of the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), recognizing our dedication to fostering innovative research in Brazil. Yet just a few years ago, the foundation and the Brazilian government had no serious formal relationship. Our progress since then is the result of our shared values and our commitment to health and development, in Brazil and beyond.

In 2012, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the foundation and CNPq to promote and financially support scientific and technological investigations led by Brazilian scientists. Over the last two years, this coalition to fund Brazilian scientists produced important outcomes. Along with the Ministry of Health, we launched two joint calls seeking proposals on maternal and child health issues around the Grand Challenges initiative.

In 2013, we announced the first ever country-specific Grand Challenges initiative in Rio de Janeiro. Grand Challenges Brazil: Reducing the Burden of Preterm Birth sought bold ideas to address a pressing issue in Brazil. The call for proposals yielded 156 projects and funded 12 scientists, whose projects range from clinical biomarkers that predict preterm birth to interventions in prenatal care. If these solutions work, they will not only save lives in Brazil, but also in other countries with high rates of preterm birth.

Building on the success of this first initiative, the foundation, CNPq and the Ministry of Health launched a second country-specific Grand Challenge in October 2014 that can also generate global impact. Grand Challenges Brazil: All Children Thriving focuses on measurement tools and new combinations of approaches to ensure all children become healthy adults. The call for proposals attracted 117 letters of interests from scientists all over the country. After a first review in March, 23 proposals were approved and invited to submit full proposals. In August, we will announce the grant winners.

Beyond the particular projects, this work also reinforces our belief in the value of diverse partnerships. The Brazilian scientists we work with, including both the grantees and our partners in government, bring unique resources and experience to our global network. We see the same pattern in our partnerships with other countries, from India to South Africa to China. Each partnership brings us one step closer to a united global community, working together to solve the biggest problems in global health and development.

I am honored and grateful to receive this award, and am extremely excited about the relationship we have built with CNPq and the Ministry of Health. If we can come this far in just a couple of years, I can't wait to see what we can create in the years and decades to come.

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