CINCINNATI—The University of Cincinnati (UC) James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy 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 project conducted by UC’s Giovanni Pauletti, PhD, titled "Tampon-Like Foam Device for Dual-Purpose Contraception.”
Pauletti’s project is one of 65 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fifth 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 16 countries on five continents.
To receive funding, Pauletti showed in a two-page application how his idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving more than 2,400 proposals in this round.
Pauletti, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, proposes to develop a foam-based insert that rapidly dissolves in the vaginal cavity forming a protective layer that then helps guard against both unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV/AIDS.
"Particularly in developing countries, women have little opportunities to control their sexual health. If successful, our proposed drug delivery system will empower women to participate more actively in those decisions,” says Pauletti, who has been researching vaginal drug delivery for 12 years.
The primary demographic for use would be females in developing countries, where women often have no say in their reproductive or sexual health. In contrast to current vaginal gel formulations, the tampon-like device does not require use of an applicator; thus decreasing the cost to manufacturer and transport, and eliminating refuse.
"Dr. Pauletti's research has implications for helping millions of women around the world,” says Daniel Acosta, PhD, dean of the UC College of Pharmacy.
"These are bold ideas from innovative thinkers, which is exactly what we need in global health research right now, " said Tachi Yamada, MD, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. "I'm excited to see some of these daring projects develop into life-saving breakthroughs for those who need them the most.”
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.
The next round of Grand Challenges Explorations will open in March 2011. More information, including grant application instructions and a list of topics for which proposals will be accepted, will be available at www.grandchallenges.org/explorations.