It’s incredible to think what can
be accomplished in just a couple of years. This week, the foundation was honored
to receive an award from Hernan Chaimovich, President of the Brazilian National
Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), recognizing our
dedication to fostering innovative research in Brazil. Yet just a few years
ago, the foundation and the Brazilian government had no serious formal
relationship. Our progress since then is the result of our shared values and
our commitment to health and development, in Brazil and beyond.
In 2012, I signed a Memorandum of
Understanding between the foundation and CNPq to promote and financially
support scientific and technological investigations led by Brazilian
scientists. Over the last two years, this coalition to fund Brazilian
scientists produced important outcomes. Along with the Ministry of Health, we launched
two joint calls seeking proposals on maternal and child health issues around the
Grand Challenges initiative.
In 2013, we announced the first
ever country-specific Grand Challenges initiative in Rio de Janeiro. Grand Challenges Brazil: Reducing the Burden
of Preterm Birth sought bold ideas to address a pressing issue in Brazil.
The call for proposals yielded 156 projects and funded 12 scientists, whose
projects range from clinical biomarkers that predict preterm birth to
interventions in prenatal care. If these solutions work, they will not only save
lives in Brazil, but also in other countries with high rates of preterm birth.
Building on the success of this
first initiative, the foundation, CNPq and the Ministry of Health launched a
second country-specific Grand Challenge in October 2014 that can also generate
global impact. Grand Challenges Brazil:
All Children Thriving focuses on measurement tools and new combinations of
approaches to ensure all children become healthy adults. The call for proposals
attracted 117 letters of interests from scientists all over the country. After
a first review in March, 23 proposals were approved and invited to submit full
proposals. In August, we will announce the grant winners.
Beyond the particular projects,
this work also reinforces our belief in the value of diverse partnerships. The
Brazilian scientists we work with, including both the grantees and our partners
in government, bring unique resources and experience to our global network. We
see the same pattern in our partnerships with other countries, from India to
South Africa to China. Each partnership brings us one step closer to a united
global community, working together to solve the biggest problems in global
health and development.
I am honored and grateful to
receive this award, and am extremely excited about the relationship we have
built with CNPq and the Ministry of Health. If we can come this far in just a
couple of years, I can’t wait to see what we can create in the years and
decades to come.