Seed Grants

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GHI Seed Grants support UW-Madison efforts to launch new global research projects and make them competitive for sustained external funding. Seed grants allow researchers to reach across disciplines for collaborators and make many projects possible.

Apply for 2017 Seed Grants

Seed Grant applications are due by 5:00 p.m. February 13, 2017. In addition, Seed Grant applicants must submit a Letter of Intent by 5:00 p.m. December 1, 2016.

Seed Grant Application 2017

Application Title Page 2017

Please be sure to download the application title page, fill it out, and then attach to the email. Note: Only attachments to the email will be uploaded to the Box site. Email text will not be visible.

2016 Seed Grants


Principal Investigator: Paul Block, assistant professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Flood catastrophes lead all natural hazards in terms of impacts on society. Most floods occur in developing regions and tropical regions where the impact on public health is substantial.  The usage of such scientific forecasts on disaster management has been highlighted, however there are limited predictive factors and forecasting techniques for specific health risks, and equally limited capacity to develop the infrastructures for such a health forecasting system, particularly in developing countries. In this project, we propose to develop a global flood prediction model to support disaster preparedness and managements for potential flood and flood-induced public health risks.  Advanced long-term flood forecasts and early warning outputs from the model will contribute to developing practical pre-disaster actions and policies under current management systems. The model will be coupled with existing flood risk assessment models and health vulnerability indicators, and then provide innovative health risk forecasts for international and local disaster management agencies and health planners.


Principal Investigator: Jessica Corman, Ph.D., postdoctoral research associate, Center for Limnology

Lake Victoria water quality and fisheries impact livelihoods and health of local communities. Lake Victoria, surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya, represents the largest tropical lake by surface area in Africa and supports the largest freshwater lake fishery in the world. Population growth, land cultivation, nutrient pollution, climate variability, resource extraction, intensive fishing and other stressors have dramatically altered water quality and fisheries ecology, affecting 30 million people living around the lake. Satellite imagery and direct observation show harmful algae blooms and water hyacinth invasions, which can negatively impact livelihoods and health.

Ecological, health, and economic effects disproportionately place the burden of compromised water quality on women.

The Seed Grant will be used to investigate the interrelationship between these two ecological realities and empower communities through women-led initiatives and interventions to reduce impacts on fisheries livelihoods and community health. Focus groups and economic surveys within impacted communities will identify management strategies and establish a platform in which to empower women to reduce community health risks.

Analysis of fish tissues for cyanotoxins, heavy metals, and pesticides will provide an assessment of health risks for local and global consumers. Historical data, water quality surveillance, satellite imagery, and experimentation will be utilized to investigate the complex relationship between water hyacinth and cyanobacterial-associated health risks. Expected outcomes include publications, formation of partnerships for community based participatory research, identification of intervention strategies to improve water quality locally, establishment of a database for monitoring data and satellite imagery, and hypothesis testing of potential low-cost predictors of health risks associated with harmful blooms. The seed grant findings, establishment of community trust, and formation of collaborations will provide foundation for subsequent NSF and NIH solicitations.


Principal Investigators: Peter McIntyre, Ph.D., assistant professor, Center for Limnology; James Hurley, associate professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering; director, UW Aquatic Sciences Center

This project addresses an unrecognized facet of the cycle of poverty: contamination of food fish with neurotoxins. Mercury from global and local sources biomagnifies in fish, and even low dietary levels can impair human cognitive development. The investigators will analyze archived tissues from four continents, yielding an overall assessment of the threat posed to hundreds of millions of poor people.

Pilot data reveals that mercury concentrations in Central Africa vastly exceed recommendations, and levels in most other regions are sufficient to threaten the health of women and children if consumed weekly. To elucidate needs for building awareness and creating regional consumption advisories, investigators will pursue three specific objectives:

  • assess the geography of mercury contamination of subsistence fisheries,
  • test whether simple correlates of contamination levels could be used to design appropriate advisories, and
  • quantify mercury stable isotopes to trace sources of contamination at each site.

Together, these efforts will set the stage for a major initiative to document and publicize the safety of eating wild-caught freshwater fish. Without such awareness, cognitive impairment of people who depend on subsistence fisheries will further reduce their odds of rising out of poverty.


Principal Investigators: James Svenson, MD, MS, associate professor, Emergency Medicine; Kevin Wyne, PA-C, faculty associate, Family Medicine

San Lucas Tolimán is a town of 17,000 people in southern Guatemala.  The population is mostly indigenous highland Maya with an average income of about $3 per day. This population is experiencing rapid growth in rates of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. There are many barriers to effective treatment of diabetes in this population including access to care and medications. Empowering health promoters to monitor and provide treatment in their communities is an effective way to improve glucose control and long-term outcomes for patients with diabetes in this region.

The investigators will collaborate with a group from Stanford University to develop a computer-based app that can be used by village health promoters to monitor their diabetic patients. They will develop protocols that can be administered by these promoters to enhance the care of their diabetic patients.  The project will be of great benefit in providing ongoing care for diabetic patients for the communities around San Lucas, and may also be used as a model in other resource poor settings.

For more information on past award recipients, view the 2011 Seed Grant Awards and the 2015 Seed Grant Awards.

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