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University of Utah Health Sciences Center Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development



The University of Utah Health Sciences Center announced in June that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Research assistant professor Lara Brewer, Ph.D., M.S., will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled "An Oxygen Conserving Oxygen Concentrator."

Grand Challenges Explorations funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr. Brewer's project is one of more than 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 14 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Dr. Brewer and other GCE winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included development of the new ways to measure fetal and infant brain development. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in September 2015.

In low resource settings, 1.2 million children below age 5 die each year from childhood pneumonia. Low-flow oxygen delivery can lower fatality by 35%. Lara Brewer and her colleagues at University of Utah Health Sciences Center will upgrade oxygen concentrators in low-resource settings by adding manual powering, oxygen storage and a conservation function, allowing for the simultaneous delivery to multiple children. Oxygen is required to treat children with pneumonia, but current concentrators rely on a continuous power supply and can only support one child at a time. They will incorporate a pedal-powered compressor and low-pressure storage tank to maintain supply during power outages. They will also design a flow splitter for supporting up to 5 patients and an oxygen-conserving device that restricts oxygen delivery to the start of inhalation.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, more than 1,100 projects in more than 60 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.