Recipients of global health seed grants announced

The Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health has awarded funding to six multidisciplinary research teams to jump-start novel efforts to address global health challenges.

The Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health has awarded seed funding totaling $300,000 to six multidisciplinary teams of investigators that are evaluating technologies aimed at helping solve health care problems in resource-poor settings.

Michele Barry, MD, professor of medicine and senior associate dean for global health, said the grants were designed to jump-start projects with high-impact potential and foster new interdisciplinary collaborations among Stanford researchers and international partners.

“We firmly believe in the importance of seed funding and the transformative impact it can have,” said Barry.

Following is a list of the principal investigators and a description of the projects they are leading:

Desiree LaBeaud, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, is leading a collaboration that combines complex data sets and deep learning to predict disease outbreaks. Using Rift Valley fever virus — a deadly vector-borne disease that infects livestock and humans — as a case study, the team will model the interplay between vectors, livestock, wildlife, climate and humans and apply machine learning to construct models for inference and prediction of future Rift Valley fever virus outbreaks. The team anticipates the approach will be transferrable­­­­­­ to other outbreak scenarios and diseases because of advances in machine-learning technology.   

Jennifer Newberry, MD, JD, an instructor of emergency medicine, is leading a collaboration among Stanford’s departments of Emergency Medicine and of Pediatrics and partners in India to conduct a preliminary impact analysis of 181 Abhayam, a novel 24/7 helpline in Gujurat state providing phone counseling and assistance to women who are threatened with or have experienced violence. The researchers aim to fill a significant research gap in understanding the impact of the helpline model and to build the evidence base for women’s crisis support and response in India.

Homero Rivas, MD, MBA, assistant professor of surgery, is initiating a pilot project that centers on the use of technology to enable access to medical care in marginalized communities in rural Mexico. Partnering with the local ministry of health, as well as robotics and technology experts, the study will evaluate the feasibility and scalability of using drone telemedicine units equipped with digital health systems as a way to bring prompt medical care to remote or isolated areas.

Robert Shafer, MD, professor of medicine, is working to increase testing capacity of HIV drug resistance in resource-poor settings. Collaborating with colleagues at Stanford, Silicon Valley-based InSilixa Inc. and the Biomedical Research Training Institute in Zimbabwe, the team aims to reduce mortality rates and costs attributable to HIV drug resistance in places where genotypic-resistant testing is unavailable. Project plans include developing point-of-care genotypic testing for drug-resistant HIV-1, as well as evaluating where the intervention is most needed in the HIV care continuum.

Shruti Sheth, MD, clinical assistant professor of oncology, is bringing together a multidisciplinary global cancer team to test a novel molecular technology to help improve breast cancer diagnosis in low-resource settings. She is partnering with the American Cancer Society, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and two comprehensive cancer centers in Nigeria.

Rebecca Walker, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine, is leading an effort to create a mobile application designed to improve health care access and strengthen coordination of a first responder network in rural Nepal. More than 80 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas where health services are scarce and emergency care is unavailable. The application, available on smartphones and tablets, will give rural health care providers information about basic standards of care and better link first responders to create a more cohesive network.

All principal investigators are faculty fellows of the Center for Innovation in Global Health. The grants are funded by the Stanford Office of the President, the Office of the Dean of the School of Medicine, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bowman Family Foundation. 



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