NGDI Member Funding of over $4,000,000

WelTel Retain: Promoting Engagement in pre-ART HIV care through SMS

Dr. Richard Lester and the WelTel team have been awarded a $545,361 grant over 3 years from the US National Institutes of Health.  

The program’s long-term research goal is to capitalize on the almost ubiquitous use of cellular phones to implement a sustainable mHealth service that improves health outcome and engagement in care. In Kenya (WelTel Kenya1), a weekly short message service (SMS) text message led to improved ART adherence and viral load suppression. This study, WelTel Retain, will evaluate the effect of WelTel on retaining pre-ART patients in care and determine the cost effectiveness of the intervention.

Specific Aims:
1) To determine if the WelTel SMS intervention improves patient retention in the first stage of HIV care.
2) To determine whether the WelTel SMS intervention improves 12-month retention.
3) To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the WelTel SMS intervention.

Maternal-Infant Microbiome and Immunity (MIMI) Network

Dr. Tobias Kollman, and co-investigators Dr. Gregory Gloor, and Dr. Gregor Reid have received a three year funding award from the CIHR Network Catalyst – Infection and Immunity program.  The $600,000 will establish the Maternal-Infant Microbiome and Immunity Network (MIMI). This network is centered on how the microbiome and immune system interact in the mother and child, as the mother is the initial source of the child’s microbiome. MIMI will formalize the collaboration of three groups with ex pertise logy, maternal health and probiotics, and DNA sequencing and data analysis. By bringing these groups with complementary expertise together, MIMI will amplify each group’s strength, build research capacity in the field of microbiome analysis, and to transfer knowledge and thus inform maternal and child health policy.  T

The study of the microbiome and its importance is described here:
There are ten times as many bacterial cells in our body than human cells. This community of microorganisms (called the microbiome) plays an important role in influencing human health. For example, in our gut, bacteria aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, keeping dangerous microbes in check and directing our defense system’s response. Thus, the understanding of how the microbi ome cont s of great importance. Understanding the human microbiome is a daunting task because of its complexity. First, there are very different communities of bacteria present in different parts of the body. Second, these bacterial communities arise from different initial sources and interact with the human defense system in different ways. Third, the human microbiome is affected by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Finally, people living in different areas of the world have different bacteria living in and on them. These and other factors require that the study of the microbiome should be approached from a global health perspective.


UBC research receives $2.9 million to improve nutrition of rural Cambodian women and children

The University of British Columbia and Helen Keller International of Cambodia have received $2.9 million from the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) for research to increase and diversify food production and nutrition for small, rural households in Cambodia.

The study, led by UBC researchers Tim Green and Judy McLean, will examine how farmers can combine aquaculture and home gardens to produce more affordable and nutritious food and gain the tools they need to improve agricultural practices and nutrition.

This $2.9M project is one of six new projects funded under CIFSRF. A five-year, $62 million initiative, CIFSRF is funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and brings Canadian and developing-country researchers together to improve food security in the developing world.

“Homestead food production has long been promoted as a means to improve nutrition, food security, and livelihoods of poor rural farmers, although a better evidence base is needed,” says Green, who leads the Cambodian study with co-investigator McLean, both from UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. “Our project in rural Cambodia will be the first to rigorously evaluate the actual impact of women-centered homestead food production models, which will include fish ponds.”

Cambodia produces enough rice to feed its population but maternal and child under-nutrition remains high due to a lack of crop diversity and shortage of nutrient-rich food.

In this project, 600 households, largely headed by women farmers, will raise small nutritious fish for their families in the same ponds as large fish, which will be sold for income. Combined with vegetable and fruit production, the project is expected to help reduce anemia and under-nutrition in a country where one-third of childhood deaths are directly related to under-nutrition and poor feeding practices. It should also increase household food security and incomes.

“We expect that the results of this project can be effectively scaled up and adopted for broader use throughout Asia,” says IDRC President David Malone. “This is very much in keeping with IDRC’s commitment to research that supports development through the practical application of science.”

Today’s funding announcement brings to 19 the number of projects supported under CIFSRF, which includes researchers from 11 Canadian universities and 26 developing-country organizations. It also represents the third and final round of funding announcements in the first phase of CIFSRF, a key component of the Government of Canada’s Food Security Strategy, announced by the Prime Minister at the 2009 G-8 Meeting in L’Aquila, Italy.

International Development Research Centre (IDRC): A key part of Canada’s aid program, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. IDRC also encourages sharing this knowledge with policymakers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting local solutions that aim to bring choice and change to those who need it most.

 Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA): The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is Canada’s lead agency for development assistance. CIDA’s aim is to manage Canada’s support and resources effectively and accountably to achieve meaningful, sustainable results. It also engages in policy development in Canada and internationally, enabling Canada’s effort to realize its development objectives.