University of Calgary

Three researchers receive Grand Challenges Canada funding

UToday HomeApril 29, 2013

Quynh Ba Le, left, a University of Calgary grad student with David Hall, discusses fish and water health with local Vietnamese producers. Photo by David HallQuynh Ba Le, left, a University of Calgary grad student with David Hall, discusses fish and water health with local Vietnamese producers. Photo by David Hall
Ed Nowicki is researching small-scale hydro power to improve rural health in Nepal. Photo by Jennifer SowaEd Nowicki is researching small-scale hydro power to improve rural health in Nepal. Photo by Jennifer Sowa
Dr. Dylan Pillai working in his University of Calgary lab. Photo by Todd O’KeefeDylan Pillai working in his University of Calgary lab. Photo by Todd O’Keefe
David Hall on one of his many visits to Vietnam. Photo by Quynh Ba LeDavid Hall on one of his many visits to Vietnam. Photo by Quynh Ba Le
Three University of Calgary researchers — David Hall, Dylan Pillai, and Ed Nowicki — were among 102 researchers from around the world awarded Grand Challenges Canada Stars in Global Health funding on Monday.

The three each received $100,000 in funding to support their innovative projects as they search for breakthroughs in global health and other areas with the potential for high impact in poor countries.

"Canada’s commitment to bold ideas with big impact is captured in each of these 102 peer-reviewed projects. By matching talent with opportunity, Grand Challenges Canada is contributing to saving and improving lives," says Peter Singer, CEO, Global Challenges Canada.

David Hall: Improving water and farm health in Vietnam

Emerging infectious diseases are a concern to global health and many low-income countries. Small-scale producers often have limited health knowledge, resulting in decisions that greatly increase the risk of infectious diseases emerging. Dr. David Hall, associate professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM), is setting out to change that with his bold idea for Vietnam.

Hall is working with UCVM grad student Quynh Ba Le, a physician from Vietnam, to create farm water health and management programs in partnership with low-cost water test kits.

“Accidental or deliberate entry of manure runoff into aquaculture systems is a large part of the problem of emerging infectious diseases,” says Hall. “Right now there is little to no examination of water quality on farms in low-income countries. Through our work, we hope to influence and change the risky behaviours associated with livestock and aquaculture in Vietnam to reduce or eliminate livestock waste entering aquaculture systems. We are also building public-private sector partnerships in Vietnam to help sustain the idea of water and farm health and promote social and economic development.”

Hall and his team will be working with 600 farmer households in rural Vietnam to gather data and develop on-farm training with low-cost private sector water testing kits, based on UNICEF and WHO recommendations.

To learn more about the project, go to: http://www.grandchallenges.ca/grantee-stars/0231-01/

Dylan Pillai: Heat shock drugs for malaria: reversing resistance

Malaria is a tropical infection caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, killing about 655,000 people annually. Malaria is not contagious and only those visiting or living in affected regions are at risk.

Drug resistance to the best antimalarials is a major obstacle to eradicating this disease and new ideas on drugs are needed. Dr. Pillai and his team are using grant money from Grand Challenges to try to reverse the resistance to once-effective drugs like choroquine.

Pillai, a member of the University of Calgary’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, will also partner with the University of Yaounde, Cameroon on this project.

To learn more, go to http://www.grandchallenges.ca/grantee-stars/0226-01/

Ed Nowicki: Small Scale Hydro Power for Rural Health in Nepal

Ed Nowicki is an associate professor in electrical and computer engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering and associate director of the Centre for Environmental Engineering Research and Education. His research focuses on power converters with an emphasis on alternative energy.

Nowicki’s Grand Challenges project involves developing a hydroelectric system for a village in the developing world. This system will be unique because it will improve public health while generating electricity. Excess power will be used by water heaters in homes to improve sanitation. Nowicki is the principal investigator of the project and will work with co-investigator David Wood, NSERC/ENMAX Industrial Research Chair in Renewable Energy, also from the Schulich School of Engineering.

To learn more, go to http://www.grandchallenges.ca/grantee-stars/0194-01/

On May 8, 2013 the university welcomes Dr. Peter Singer to the Foothills Campus to present Building a Transformative Approach to Grand Challenges in Global Health. The session runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Health Science Centre, room G500.

 

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