Public Release: 

Boyce receives Gates Foundation grant for groundbreaking research in global health

University of North Carolina Health Care

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IMAGE: Ross Boyce, M.D., M.Sc., received funding from the Gates Foundation to investigate vaccination access in Uganda. view more 

Credit: Morag MacLachlan

Chapel Hill, NC - The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases announced today that Ross Boyce, M.D., M.Sc., is a winner of a Grand Challenges Explorations grant - an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Boyce, a clinical instructor in the UNC Division of Infectious Diseases will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled, Accessible Measures of Access: Novel Tools to Measure Immunization Coverage.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grants support innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how persistent global health and development challenges are solved. Boyce's project is one of 35 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 21 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Boyce and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of three critical global heath and development topic areas. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in February 2019.

Boyce works in the highlands of Western Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His home base is the Bugoye sub-county, which sits within the Rwenzori Mountains. The extreme elevations provide challenges to the people who live here. Challenges that Boyce is looking to solve.

Boyce will utilize the funding from the Gates Foundation to analyze where people are coming from to get their children vaccinated. He will use software to map where these people live and analyze it in comparison to people seeking care for malaria and prenatal services.

"If we see 100 people coming from one village and only 10 coming from another, it's an opportunity to improve services there and also do a little more digging to find out exactly why they aren't coming; is it just distance, or is it some sort of fear or cultural attitude," Boyce said.

Around 50 percent of Ugandan children receive the standard package of vaccinations and even less receive them on time, Boyce said.

"We are going to triangulate this data with data on people seeking prenatal services and malaria care so we can see where the gaps overlap," Boyce said. "Then, the next step will be to take services to these people."

About Grand Challenges Explorations Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1400 projects in more than 65 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 US$100,000 are awarded two times per year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.

About the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases The mission of UNC's Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases is to harness the full resources of the University and its partners to solve global health problems, reduce the burden of disease, and cultivate the next generation of global health leaders. Learn more at http://www.globalhealth.unc.edu.

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