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Blog Post

Grand Challenges in Rio de Janeiro

  • Steven Buchsbaum, Carlos Gadelha, Oct 27, 2013

Brazil is a leader in public health – from the establishment of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation at the beginning of the 20th century, a premier health research institute here in Rio de Janeiro, to the implementation of the Unified Health System 25 years ago, and as an epicenter of an effective response to HIV/AIDS in recent years. As such, it is a great pleasure to be co-hosting the 9th annual Grand Challenges Meeting in Rio de Janeiro this week, highlighting the commitment of the country and its researchers to health innovation, access and equity.

This year's event, which is hosted by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Grand Challenges Canada, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the Wellcome Trust and others, promises to be a dynamic one, featuring leading researchers from Brazil and beyond.

As in years past, we've convened this meeting because we believe that exchange between researchers, practitioners, funders and other stakeholders can accelerate the translation of innovative ideas into new solutions with real potential for impact. We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, and we believe that breakthroughs to pressing health and development challenges require new thinking and innovative partnerships.

It has been a productive year for Grand Challenges in Brazil. In February, we announced a partnership around the first-ever country-specific challenge on Reducing the Burden of Preterm Birth. The initiative sought bold ideas from Brazilian researchers to develop tomorrow's innovations to prevent and manage the high burden of preterm births in Brazil, and around the world. Winners will be announced in the next couple of weeks, and together they will receive approximately US$4.5 million in funding. This achievement is complemented by other exciting Grand Challenges work happening around the world, including, most recently, two new RFPs launched by Grand Challenges India around agriculture and nutrition and reinventing the toilet.

The Gates Foundation also launched Round 11 of Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) which generated an unprecedented number of Brazilian applicants. The number of proposals ranked it behind only the United States, India and the United Kingdom in terms of most applicants from a single country. Round 12 of GCE is currently open for applications now.

This year's meeting will celebrate the commitment of Brazil and many other partners to the Grand Challenges approach. It will recognize the successes of existing partnerships under Grand Challenges, identify future co-funding opportunities, and promote international scientific collaboration. Above all, this meeting is an opportunity to build momentum for global health innovation. Our hope is that conversations over the next three days, and the collaborations that come out of them, will help accelerate the translation of innovation to health impact.

This year's meeting will feature a range of keynotes and panel discussions. Key components of the meeting will include:

  • Plenaries: The meeting will include three exciting plenaries: (1) the opening plenary, which will highlight Brazil's commitment to accelerating the discovery, development and delivery of innovative health solutions for both domestic and global challenges; (2) a thematic plenary that will examine how science, technology and policy can be leveraged to make health technologies and programs affordable, accessible and sustainable; and (3) the closing session, which will bring together existing and exploratory Grand Challenges partners to discuss lessons-learned and offer a united vision for moving forward.
  • Scientific Keynotes: Nine scientific keynote speakers will share their innovative research in women's and children health, dengue prevention, vaccine production and beyond.
  • Scientific Tracks: As in year's past, the scientific tracks are the core of the meeting. Topics were selected based on pressing global health and development challenges as well as partners' priority areas, and include: (1) Vaccine Discovery & Translational Sciences; (2) Women's & Children's Health; (3) Livestock Genetics; (4) Labor Saving Innovations for Agriculture; (5) Diagnostics; (6) Global Mental Health; (7) Vector Control; and (8) Geospatial Data and Remote Sensing for Agriculture and Health.

Throughout the conference, we'll also plan to give you glimpse into some of these conversations by posting updates to the blog. We hope you will join the conversation with us on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtags #grandchallenges and #GCRio.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.
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