UCL Grand Challenge of Global Health



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UCL Grand Challenge of Global Health (GCGH): Small Grants for 2013

The winners of the 2013 UCL Grand Challenges Small Grants for the Grand Challenge of Global Health have been awarded to the following projects.

To view GCGH grants for previous years please select a year from the left-hand menu.



Estimating the likely impact on TB control of interventions to improve the ventilation of indoor public spaces in rural South Africa

Lead applicant: Professor Ibrahim Abubakar (UCL Infection & Population Health)

Main collaborator: Dr Hector Altamirano (The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)

In high burden settings, most TB transmission occurs outside the home. This project will estimate ventilation in a number of indoor congregate settings in a rural area in northern KwaZulu-Natal. We will then model the impact of simple interventions on ventilation rates and TB transmission. This work is being conducted in collaboration with investigators in the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies.

Socioeconomic factors and suicide mortality rate in Iran

Lead applicant: Dr Hassan Haghparast-Bidgoli (Institute for Global Health)

Main collaborator: Mr Jeff Round (Mental Health Sciences Unit)

Over the last 45 years, suicide rates have increased dramatically worldwide. According to the WHO (2008), suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-44 years. Similar to other developing countries, Iran has been experiencing a rapid increase in suicide rate during recent years.

In Iran, where information on individual risk factors and outcomes of suicide attempts have been well documented in previous studies, there is little information on the role of socio-economic factors and suicide incidence. Such information is valuable for policy makers in order to prioritise prevention strategies.

The current study aims to investigate the effects of socio-economic factors on suicide rate across different regions in Iran.

A life history approach to diabetes in rural India

Lead applicant: Professor Jonathan Wells (Institute of Child Health)
Main collaborator: Dr Andrea Migliano (Anthropology)

Late-onset diabetes affects millions of people in India, with numbers expected to increase in coming decades. Diabetes occurs at lower levels of body weight and younger ages in Indians compared to European populations, but these differences are poorly understood.

This project will use life history theory to consider the wide range of factors which affect healthy development. We will use data from the Pune Maternal Nutrition Study to provide insight into how parental health influences the health of their children, and the factors that influence the development of late-onset diabetes in adolescents and adults.



Examining the feasibility and ethical acceptability of providing cause of death information to families of the deceased in rural Nepal

Lead applicant: Dr Joanna Morrison (Institute for Global Health)
Main collaborator: Dr James Wilson (Centre for Philosophy, Justice & Health)

The births and deaths of two-thirds of the world’s population go unrecorded. This project examines the feasibility and ethical acceptability of Mobile InterVA (MIVA), a new low-cost mobile system for recording probable cause of death.

MIVA uses a simple computer programme to determine probable causes of death, which means that families can be informed much more quickly than with traditional forms of verbal autopsy. However, it also raises significant ethical questions. This project will use interviews with professionals and families we will explore the issues which affect how people respond to the death of a family member, and how MIVA can be used most effectively and appropriately in rural Nepali settings.



Adaptation to milk drinking in Chilean goat herders; the role of genetics and selection

Lead applicant: Professor Dallas Swallow (Faculty of Life Sciences)
Main collaborator: Professor Ruth Mace (Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences)

The ability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, is a genetically linked trait, which demonstrates natural selection in humans. This genetic trait also provides insight into the way communities grow and migrate, and the cultural changes that affect diet and way of life.

This project will focus on goat herders living in the Chilean Andes, who have a relatively recent history of dairy farming and milk consumption. Building on work already conducted in the community, we will explore the cultural and biological evolution of milk drinking, exploring evolutionary advantages of carrying lactase persistence alleles and their effect on fertility, child morality, height, and milk consumption. 



A Smartphone App for Neonatal Jaundice

Lead applicant: Dr Terence Leung (Medical Physics & Bioengineering)
Main collaborator: Dr Judith Meek (UCLH)

Neonatal jaundice is a common condition in newborn infants, caused by increased bilirubin level and characterised by a yellow colouration of the skin. While it is usually not serious, it may affect the child’s health and can even cause brain damage or death.

This project aims to develop a smartphone app to help midwives and parents to easily identify jaundice. We hope that this simple, low-cost solution will enable health workers in the UK and in developing countries The project will measure bilirubin levels in newborn babies at UCL Hospitals to develop an accurate and reliable evidence base. A workshop will be organised in UCLH to report the results towards the end of the research and also gather new healthcare app ideas for future projects.



An integrated approach to HIV and AIDS and informal settlements in sub-Saharan Africa

Lead applicant: Dr Colin Marx (Bartlett Development Planning Unit)
Main collaborator: Dr Sarah Hawkes (Institute for Global Health)

Research indicates that people living in informal settlements are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. This project will analyse 'integrated interventions' that respond to the confluence of HIV and informal settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa amongst established networks of HIV and urban planning activists. Workshops and a working paper will provide opportunities for researchers and practitioners to share their experiences and ideas on new strategies to address inequalities and diseases.

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