University of Cambridge receives Gates Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for groundbreaking research in East Africa

7 November 2018

The University of Cambridge has been awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant - an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Chris Gilligan, Professor of Mathematical Biology and Co-Chair of the Cambridge Global Food Security Interdisciplinary Research Centre, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Integrated platform for effective surveillance.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Professor Gilligan’s project is one of 34 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 21 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this week.

The aim of the funded project is to help small-holder farmers make better informed decisions for cost-effective pest and disease control, at the local and regional scales. Professor Gillian’s team will provide an integrated platform for the collection and analysis of surveillance data in near real-time, from multiple sources, to greatly improve the efficiency and utility of crop disease surveillance. Along with existing surveillance mechanisms, the team will also promote the adoption of novel, large-scale SMS/smartphone surveillance platforms.

Funding will enable the team to focus on pests and diseases of maize, wheat and cassava in East Africa, principally in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. They will develop modelling frameworks and pilot large-scale surveillance programmes in collaboration with in-country partners, and the success of these will be reviewed through in-country workshops.

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