GHI offers grants for faculty, staff, students and visiting scholars

The Global Health Institute (GHI) will again award grants to faculty, staff and graduate students for work that advances global health research toward equitable and sustainable health for the world, GHI Acting Director Christopher Olsen announced Wednesday, October 29.  UW-Madison faculty, staff and graduate students whose work intersects with GHI’s Mission and Vision are especially invited to apply.

“GHI is delighted to be able to offer these awards in support of the global health efforts of faculty, staff and graduate students across the campus,” Olsen says. “These awards are designed to provide seed funding for research projects, international travel necessary to scope out new research or educational activities, and to bring global health scholars from across the world to UW-Madison. It is very important that the seed grant funding be used as support for research that will go on to attract external funding.”

“These awards are designed to provide seed funding for research projects, international travel necessary to scope out new research or educational activities, and to bring global health scholars from across the world to UW-Madison.”—Christopher Olsen, GHI acting director

The awards are especially valuable for supporting global health innvoations, says Dr. Tony Goldberg, GHI associate director for research. “Often, initial funding for innovative approaches to global health problems is difficult to obtain, especially if those solutions fall in the cracks between traditional disciplines,” he says.  GHI awards are specifically designed to “jump start” new interdisciplinary efforts that will later attract outside funding.

The Institute will again offer grants in four categories:

  • Seed Grants will support efforts to launch new global health research projects and make them competitive for sustained external funding. Three to five grants of up to $75,000 each will be awarded.
  • Graduate Student Research Awards supports doctoral students pursuing work in any relevant discipline whose graduate work will enhance global activities on the UW-Madison campus and beyond. Five to 10 grants of up to $5,000 each will be awarded.
  • Visiting Scholar Awards brings visitors to UW-Madison who substantially enhance global health activities on campus in collaboration with a sponsoring UW-Madison faculty member or faculty team. Five grants of up to $8,000 will be awarded.
  • Faculty and Staff Travel Awards are available for UW-Madison faculty and staff who are GHI affiliates. They can be used for international travel related to educational and research activities. Several grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded.

Previous awards allowed faculty, staff and graduate students to delve into topics from human and animal disease to agriculture and economic development. The  work led to improved medication safety in Ethiopia, looked at how to increase mango production to improve well-being in Haiti, evaluated the previously undefined prevalence of brucellosis in Ecuador, and more.

GHI grants also brought in scholars from around the world, who collaborated with UW-Madison faculty, staff and students and shared their expertise in public presentations. They also supported UW-Madison faculty and staff travel for research and educational program development.

GHI is dedicated to improving health in Wisconsin and across the world through research, education and community engagement.  Grant applications are available under the Research & Awards tab on the GHI website and are due by 5 p.m. Monday, January 12, 2015.  Faculty members who apply for seed grant funding are also required to submit a letter of intent by 5 p.m., December 1, 2014.

Ann Grauvogl/ October 30, 2014

What the U.S. is doing to prevent an Ebola outbreak

GHI Associate Director Tony Goldberg, a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine,  visits with Central Time on Wisconsin Public Radio about the roots of Ebola, how the crisis has spread, steps being taken to contain it and what needs to happen to avoid future outbreaks. Ebola is both highly dangerous because of its high mortality rate and, unlike many zoonotic diseases, can be passed from person to person. When the crisis passes, he predicts a serious reevaluation of how the world approaches international public health, looking, especially, at public education.

Goldberg also was interviewed by WKOW about Ebola and visited with Channel 3000’s Live at Five about the outbreak. He also looked at the past, present and future of the disease with Channel 3000.

Goldberg joins a panel discussion on “Ebola in Context? Emergency Response and Global Responsibility” at 7 p.m. October 29 in the Great Hall at Memorial Union. Panelists also include Jo Ellen Fair, professor of journalism and mass communications; Gregg Mitman, Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, Medical History, History and Environmental Studies; Alhaji N’jai, research fellow in Pathobiological Sciences; Emmanual Urey, a doctoral student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and R. Alta Charo, Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics.





EcoHealth, like GHI, calls for climate/health action

Communities and scientists from across disciplines must collaborate to address climate change, ensure a livable world and provide health and well-being for future generations, the International Association for Ecology and Health declared at its 5th Biennial EcoHealth Conference Aug. 11-15 in Montreal, Canada.

The declaration mirrors the commitment made by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI), a supporting sponsor of the conference, to a collaborative One Health vision that recognizes the health and well-being of people, animals and ecosystems are interdependent. Continue reading

Making a better flip-flop to overcome illiteracy and disease



Contact: Tony Goldberg, associate director for research, Global Health Institute; professor of epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, 608-890-2618 or

In many parts of the world, a good share of the population wears flip-flops. In America, the candy-colored sandals are a ubiquitous herald of summer. In rural Uganda, kids wear them, adult men and moms wear them whether they’re bopping around the compound, working in the fields or getting water.

For Dr. Tony Goldberg and postdoctoral scholar Sarah Paige at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, flip-flops present a challenge and an opportunity to overcome illiteracy and better combat helminths, the parasitic worms that can burrow into bare feet and cause gastrointestinal illness. Thanks to a recent $100,000 Grand Challenges Exploration grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they’re developing the holoflop™ that protects feet from soil-borne parasites and encourages people to wear them.

The holoflop™ is a flip-flop with a hologram attached that will show the benefits of wearing sandals to people who cannot read, says Goldberg, associate director for research at the UW-Madison’s Global Health Institute (GHI), professor of epidemiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Kibale EcoHealth Project. Paige, a medical geographer, works with Goldberg at the university and has been part of the Kibale project since its inception.

Illiteracy is a substantial road block worldwide as public health practitioners try to disseminate information about everything from medication to child vaccinations. With holoflops™, Paige and Goldberg will tap into people’s knowledge of symbols, graphics, pictures and images to deliver the health message. “We are being educated by local people on symbolism that will be relevant to them,” Paige says.

“Grand Challenges Explorations is designed to foster the most innovative ideas to save the lives of the world’s poorest people,” says Chris Wilson, director of the Gates Foundation’s Discovery and Trans

lational Sciences team.

Paige and Goldberg’s project, “Flip-Flops and Holograms for Disrupting Helminth Transmission,” was among 81 projects selected for initial Gates Foundation funding from more than 2,700 proposals. The projects address a wide range of issues including using social data for social good, designing the next generation of condom, helping women farmers in the developing world, finding new interventions for neglected diseases and bringing together human and animal health for new solutions.

The science behind holoflops™  draws from Goldberg’s decade of quantitative work on how diseases are transferred between wildlife and humans in and around Kibale National Park.

Soil-transmitted helminth infections are among the most common

infections in the world. People and animals shed helminth eggs in feces into the soil, where the worms grow and later infect humans. In Uganda, helminths are abundant in dirt compounds used by humans and animals.

Goldberg - insert

“We’ve been good epidemiologists,” Goldberg says. “We spent years documenting that disease could be transferred between animals and humans and understanding the risk factors that put people in contact with animals, why they might get diseases, what diseases they might be getting, where it’s happening and the effect it’s having on the people and the animals.”

With holoflopos ™, the scientists move beyond generating data to helping rural people avoid disease.

Paige grounds the project in an understanding of Uganda’s complex social systems. All societies have hierarchies, she says. Introducing a new project or product can exacerbate inequities, leaving the poor even more vulnerable. Introducing new technology too quickly can also scare people away from using it.

“Flip-flops are something they are already familiar with,” she says. “Using them maintains the status quo.”

Goldberg and Paige are working with a graphic designer and looking for a shoe company. Focus groups in Uganda will help determine the best images for the hologram and colors for the sandals. The researchers will measure whether holoflops™ reduce disease incidence and how they are accepted by the community. “We will also just be popping in on participating households to see if folks are wearing the holoflops and who is wearing them, as well as how well they are holding up,” Paige says.

Goldberg is optimistic, in part because the idea is simple. “I’m excited that the holoflop™ could become widely used to improve health,” he says.

The Global Health Institute, supported by public and private funds, is dedicated to addressing the multi-layered causes of health and disease and discovering sustainable strategies to improve well-being. GHI fosters collaborations that expand the traditional, medical responses to international health crises and include environmental, economic, political and public health strategies.

Nov. 25, 2013 | by Ann Grauvogl