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USPCASW Researchers Receive Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

Women & Men in laboratory
The U's Dr. Scott Benson teaches latrine sampling techniques to Mehran University of Engineering & Technology students.

The University of Utah was recently awarded a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations grant. Dr. Windy Tanner, principal investigator and visiting instructor in the Division of Epidemiology and Dr. Jim VanDerslice, co-investigator and associate professor in the Division of Public Health will work with Drs. Ayesha Tajammul and Jamil Ahmed at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Jamshoro, Pakistan to pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Salmonella Typhi survival and gene acquisition in biofilm communities”.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr. Tanner’s project is one of approximately 30 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 23 grants selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

With the help of the GCE grant, the research team will assess mechanisms by which Salmonella Typhi survives in the environment and becomes resistant to antibiotics. Dr. Tanner and colleagues at University of Utah Health and Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) in Pakistan propose to look for typhoid bacteria in bacterial communities in drinking and waste water samples collected in Sindh Province, Pakistan. The study will also utilize advanced genomic methods to determine whether antimicrobial resistance gene transfer events are occurring in the environment.

This research builds on a USAID-funded five-year collaboration between MUET and the University of Utah Water Center to develop a Center for Advanced Studies in Water that includes developing graduate education programs and research capacity to address water issues in Pakistan. This research study is one of the important outcomes from this effort.