New York University College of Nursing announced today that it has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support an innovative global health research study titled “Enhancing Innate Vaginal Defenses to Reduce the Risk of HIV.” The research will be conducted by Professor Ann Kurth, PhD, CNM, Director of Global Health Initiatives, at a clinic that NYU supports in Mombasa Kenya.
Kurth’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, Kurth showed in a two-page application how her 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.
Kurth will test the hypothesis that eliminating intravaginal practices such as douching will allow the return of healthy vaginal flora conditions which includes ideal pH and an intact vaginal mucosa. By restoring and maintaining this healthy environment, Kurth proposes that incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease and HIV infection can be reduced.
"Around the world many women are at risk of getting HIV from men who refuse to use condoms. Any method that reduces this risk and that is ’invisible’ to male partners -- such as stopping harmful douching and other intravaginal practices -- might be able to make a difference for the most vulnerable women,” said Kurth. “Even if the risk is lowered just slightly, given the high prevalence of harmful intravaginal practices in sub-Saharan Africa, the population- attributable HIV risk reduction from this approach could be significant."
“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.”
About Grand Challenges Explorations
Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote innovation in global health. The program uses an agile, streamlined grant process – applications are limited to two pages, and preliminary data are not required. Proposals are reviewed and selected by a committee of foundation staff and external experts, and grant decisions are made within approximately three months of the close of the funding round.
Applications for the current round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through May 19, 2010. Grant application instructions, including the list of topics for which proposals are currently being accepted, are available at http://www.grandchallenges.org/explorations.
About New York University College of Nursing
The NYU College of Nursing is one of the leading nursing programs in the United States. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Master of Arts and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs; a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.