University of Wisconsin–Madison

Seed Grant List

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.

2017 Seed Grant Recipients

CARDIOVASCULAR RISK PREDICTION TOOLS FOR LATIN AMERICA

Principal Investigator: Leonelo Bautista, associate professor, Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH)

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of global mortality, accounting for 31 percent of all deaths. In Latin America (LA), CVD account for 31 percent of all deaths and 10 percent of all DALYs. Management of CVD risk factors in individuals at high risk of disease is one of the main strategies for individual and population prevention. In most countries the Framingham equation (FrEq) is used for this purpose. However, the FrEq was developed using data from a cohort of mostly white middle class individuals from the U.S. and overestimates the risk when used in populations with a lower baseline risk of CVD, like the population in LA. In consequence, a high proportion of low-risk individuals is likely classified and managed as high-risk, leading to unnecessary interventions with potential adverse effects and lower cost-effectiveness of primary prevention programs. Unfortunately, the risk prediction has not been recalibrated and validated against incidence data in sub-regions and countries of LA. We will expand existing data from the Latin American Studies of Obesity to 14 countries and 300,000 individuals, estimate country-specific prevalence and incidence of CVD, recalibrate the FrEq, and validate it against external data on the incidence of CVD.

Key personnel: Jaime Miranda, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia; Abraham Flaxi, University of Washington-Seattle

ANALYZING THE DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE IMPACTS OF DODD-FRANK MINING LEGISLATION IN EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Principal Investigator: Jeremy Foltz, professor, Department of Ag and Applied Economics, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS)

In 2010, the U.S. banned purchases of conflict minerals from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Advocates claimed that conflict over minerals fueled the decades-long conflict in DRC and contributed to the overwhelming amount of reported sexual violence. This research will test whether domestic and sexual violence levels have changed as a result of closing conflict mineral mines. The study will use the DRC’s Demographic Health Survey data from 2008 and 2014, which spans before and after the policy, and a difference in econometric methodology to estimate the effects of conflict minerals policies on partner and non-partner sexual violence. Based on previous work by the PI (Parker, Foltz and Elsea, 2017) on the effects of these policies on child health, we theorize that the policy caused greater harm to women in the post-implementation period. The seed grant will finance some initial research with aggregate data, which will help us succeed with grant competitions to collect our own data with women in the DRC.

Key personnel: Dominic Parke, CALS

IDENTIFICATION OF NEGLECTED AND NOVEL HUMAN VIRUSES IN SIERRA LEONE

Principal Investigator: Yoshihiro Kawaoka, professor, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine

Neglected and novel viruses represent a major health risk for human populations. However, there is a limited understanding of the prevalence of these viruses particularly in developing countries such as Sierra Leone. A 2014 study by the Lassa Diagnostic Laboratory in Kenema, Sierra Leone, to identify the causative agents associated with febrile cases in humans found that approximately 29 percent of the febrile cases were caused by a neglected virus and in approximately 45 percent of the cases, the cause of the fever could not be established (Schoepp, R.J., et. al. EID vol. 20 pg. 1176-82, 2014). To catalog the viruses circulating in the population of Sierra Leone, we propose a surveillance study to determine the prevalence of neglected human viruses (Aim 1) and identify novel human viruses (Aim 2). These activities will provide valuable information about human viruses circulating in Sierra Leone. This information could be used to improve the diagnostic capability in Sierra Leone, which could lead to advancements in human health, the potential prevention of further outbreaks, and the alleviation of stress on already burdened healthcare systems.

IMPACTS OF THE INTRODUCTION OF LIVESTOCK ON CROP YIELD IN A RURAL AGRICULTURAL RESOURCE DEMONSTRATION CENTER IN LWEZA, UGANDA

Principal Investigators: James Ntambi, professor, Biochemistry, (CALS); John Ferrick, associate director CALS International Programs

Village Health Project (VHP), a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit at UW- Madison, recently assisted in the construction a Community Rural Agricultural Resource Demonstration Center (RARDC) to teach innovative agricultural methods in Lweza, Uganda. This proposal seeks to maximize crop output and promote sustainability through the addition of various livestock, including cows, pigs, ducks and, chickens. Aside from their byproducts to improve nutrition, the livestock will produce manure that will serve as fertilizer for the crops. This addition will enhance the quality and quantity of fertilizer and increasing crop yields; creating a self-sustaining RARDC to better support the people of Lweza.

Key personnel: Paul Kimera, Uganda liaison; Ronald Nsimb, Uganda project coordinator; Kim Isely, VHP director

COMBATTING ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE THROUGH A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

Principal Investigator: Nasia Safdar, vice chair for research, Department of Medicine, SMPH

Antibiotic resistant infections are a global public health crisis. A key driver of antibiotic resistance is antibiotic overuse and misuse. Antibiotic stewardship-the judicious use of antibiotics- is a key strategy to reducing world-wide resistance. India is at the epicenter of one of the most multi-drug-resistant strains of bacteria, one which carries the New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1), an enzyme which has conferred resistance to almost all therapeutic options. Infection caused by these superbugs has an 80 percent mortality rate.

With partners in New Delhi, our infectious disease group at the UW-Madison has created a collaboration to undertake a qualitative study to increase current understanding of antibiotic stewardship practices and implement protocols for stewardship at a major health care system in India. We will use a mixed-methods approach to undertake

  1. semi-structured interviews of key stakeholders regarding antibiotic stewardship in acute care facilities in India,
  2. document review of antibiograms, antibiotic usage, guidelines and protocols, and
  3. create an implementation strategy for antibiotic stewardship activities as ongoing work.

This project will allow opportunities for students to work in India, synergize with undergraduate and graduate research and education, and will serve as a catalyst for collaboration with the South Asian diaspora at UW-Madison

Key personnel: Sharmila Seng, Medicity Hospitalk; Ajay Sethi, SMPH; Dawd Siraj, SMPH

SCHOOL ENRICHMENT AND LIVELIHOODS ACCELERATED THROUGH MILK (SELAM) PROJECT

Principal investigator:  Michel Wattiaux, professor, Department of Dairy Science, CALS; Heidi Busse, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, SoHE

The School Enrichment and Livelihoods Accelerated through Milk (SELAM) project takes a multidisciplinary approach to enhance school and community nutrition environments by building participatory processes at individual, organizational, and community levels in three rural Ethiopian sites. The SELAM Project aims to improve child nutrition and educational attainment by building community capacity and aligning multiple agencies toward the collective goal of creating a sustainable school milk feeding program.

The issue the SELAM project will address is child malnutrition and chronic food insecurity among rural smallholder families. The project’s purpose is to establish a pilot school milk feeding program to address a low consumption of animal source proteins, a primary driver of child malnutrition in Ethiopia. In Year 1, our three strategic objectives are to:

  1. Develop a model for building participatory processes to identify inter- and intra-household, community, and systems barriers to and assets for strengthening nutrition;
  2. Implement a multisector platform for stakeholder engagement toward the collective goal of improving child nutrition through a school milk feeding program; and
  3. Design a multi-level evaluation framework for a school milk feeding program that considers individual/ household, community, and policy/systems-level impacts.

Key personnel: Brian Christen, SoHE; Ann Evensen, SMPH

2016 Seed Grants

FLOOD PREDICTION TO SUPPORT ADVANCED DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND PUBLIC HEALTH RISKS: UNDERSTANDING, DEVELOPMENT, AND APPLICATION

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.

WATER, WOMEN, AND FISHERIES: ADDRESSING TWO ECOLOGICAL REALITIES IMPACTING HUMAN HEALTH AT LAKE VICTORIA

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.

POLLUTED FISH AND CYCLES OF POVERTY: TRACING THE GLOBAL SCOPE OF MERCURY CONTAMINATION OF FISHERIES

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.

RURAL GUATEMALA DIABETES INITIATIVE

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.

2015 Seed Grants

MOBILE EMERGENCY GUIDELINES SOLUTION: SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Principal Investigators: Janis P. Tupesis, MD, FACEP, FAAEM; Mohammed Dalwai, MD, Ph.D Candidate

The investigators partnership goal is to improve access to clinical support information and educational materials for African healthcare workers through active dissemination of clinical practice guidelines (CPG) through mobile phone technology – such that providers will be able to navigate through local expert instructions. The researchers propose to develop, implement, and disseminate this technological innovation through local, regional, national and international partnership through a process of participatory and user centered design. The goal would be to implement in the South African emergency services infrastructure with goals to adapt to other African countries.

PALLIATIVE CARE IN RWANDA

Principal Investigators: James Cleary, MD, FRACP, FAChPM; Martha Maurer, BS, MPH; Aaron Gilson, MSW, MSSW, Ph.D; Barbara Hastie, Ph.D.; Mary Skemp Brown, MBA

This project’s primary long-term objective is to collaborate with Rwandan government to design expansions of the existing database for medication distribution, to allow submission of data related to opioid prescribing and patient treatment for pain and palliative care.

SYSTEM STRENGTHENING AND HUMAN BUILDING TO SCALE UP LONG-ACTING REVERSIBLE CONTRACEPTION IN SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA

Principal Investigators: Cynthie K. Anderson, MD, MPH; Eliza Bennett, MD; Cara King, DO, MS; Heidi Brown, MD; Nicholas Schmuhl, Ph.D; Zenebe Wolde, Millio Teshome, Jennifer Higgins, Ph.D, MPH

UW OB/Gyn has spearheaded a postpartum LARC program in Dane County, bringing free access to immediate postpartum LARC to women below the federal poverty level. The investigators are working with stakeholders statewide to promote Medicaid policy changes surrounding reimbursement, with confidence that efforts will result in statewide dissemination. Expansion of LARC is a priority shared with colleagues in Hawassa, Ethiopia. As envisioned by the “4W” initiative, the goal is to: 1) Assess desirability/feasibility of LARC scale-up in Southern Ethiopia through key informant interviews (physicians, midwives, policy-makers, users); 2) Formalize collaborations with invested partners; 3) Assess existing and promote future infrastructure to provide LARC and manage complications; 4) Enhance existing academic partnerships with Hawassa University through faculty and learner exchange and 5) Adapt UW Residency Program LARC curriculum to Ethiopian context.

WOMEN IN ONE HEALTH: EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN IN RURAL AGRICULTURE

Principal Investigators: Janet Shibley Hyde, Ph.D; Mary Crave, Ph.D; Sophia Friedson-Ridenour, MA, Ph.D Candidate.

The interdisciplinary Women and One Health in Rural Agriculture research project will critically assess the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), a relatively new tool used in 16 low-income countries. The UW team will recommend new indicators and develop and test a second generation WEAI to 1) broaden the way women’s empowerment is conceptualized and measured, and 2) incorporate “One Health” knowledge and practice. This research will create opportunities for future grants, both to further develop and test indicators and tools, and to develop programs that are aligned with the gender lens and the one health lens that will emerge. The overarching goal of this work is to expand the WEAI to foster innovation in agricultural development. Because what is measured naturally becomes a programmatic focus, this research will lead to programs that improve the lives of women, and sustain the health of people, animals and the environment.

2011 Seed Grants

Hypertension Awareness, Treatment, and Control in Latin America

Principal Investigators: Leonelo E Bautista, MD, M.P.H., Dr.P.H.; Lina M Vera, MD, MSc; Alberto Palloni, Ph.D.; Juan P Casas, MD, Ph.D.; Jaime Miranda, MD, MSc, for the LASO investigators.

We will use data from 10,496 hypertensives from the Latin American Consortium of Studies in Obesity-LASO to assess the prevalence and determinants of hypertension awareness, treatment, and control in the region. Our study will accurately characterize the magnitude of the problem of detection and management of hypertension, will identify sociodemographic factors associated with poor blood pressure control, and will provide an objective evaluation of the health and economic impact of potential population interventions to improve blood pressure control in this population.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding and Controlling Brucellosis in the Imbabura and Pichincha Provinces in Ecuador

Principal Investigators: Poulsen K.P.; Hutchins F.T.; Gaus D.P.; Van Kekerix M.J.; Lopez L.; Trueba G.; Czuprynski C.J.; Olsen C.W.

The goals are to understand upstream determinants/root causes of brucellosis in the Ecuadorian animal populations, and to educate Ecuadorian animal owners about risk factors for brucellosis in cattle and other species, and transmission to humans (e.g., unpasteurized dairy products, contact with parturient animals).

The Effects of Agricultural Productivity on Poverty and Household Food Security: The Sahel’s Silent Maize Revolution

Principal Investigators: Jeremy Foltz, Ph.D.; Sara Patterson, Ph.D.

This work seeks to investigate whether higher agricultural production translates into poverty reduction and better household food security outcomes. We hope to identify ways that farmers of both genders can continue to maintain or improve yields, provide needed nutrition and profit, and minimize damage to the environment.

Evaluation of Alternative Strategies for Emerging Disease Detection

Principal Investigators: Jerry Zhu, Ph.D.; Bret Shaw, Ph.D.; Lewis Gilbert, Ph.D.; Joshua Dein, V.M.D.

We propose to develop and improve on monitoring processes that will enhance our ability to detect changes in the patterns of wildlife disease occurrence that may signal the very earliest stages of disease emergence in human / animal systems. Expanding the observational corps may be accomplished by both examining content on social networks, and engaging existing citizen monitoring groups to extend their mission to include wildlife morbidity and mortality events.

Mobile Phone-Disseminated Health Information

Principal Investigators: Monica J. Grant, Ph.D.; Ajay K Sethi, Ph.D.; James H. Conway, MD

Using participatory-based research methods, our proposal aims to establish feasibility and to pilot the dissemination of health information within existing mobile phone networks using a theory-driven intervention. These demonstration projects will be conducted within existing study populations and collaborations in Malawi and Uganda that monitor and evaluate child survival and HIV/AIDS.

Pathways for Poverty Reduction in Haiti: Health and economic impacts of organic mango Production and Processing

Principal Investigator: Gary P. Green, PhD; Co-Investigator: Bradford L. Barham, PhD; Co-Investigator: Gergens Polynice, MS.

This project examines potential pathways to increase small-scale producers’ income through mango production and transformation for the local and international markets. It will investigate the production pattern and the effects of prices on farmers’ willingness to plant more mango trees as well as assess ways to diminish postharvest lost and disease transmission through proper fruits handling system.

Participatory Action Research and Planning to Improve Young Women’s Reproductive Health: A lever for change in reaching the MDGs

Principal Investigators: Nancy Kendall, Ph.D.; Claire Wendland, MD, Ph.D.

The study focuses on girls who are approaching the critical stage of finishing primary school (commonly ages 13 to 17), with the aim of developing innovative, gender responsive, multisectoral activities that both foster resilience and protect them from life-stage risks such as early pregnancy and HIV infection, and have broader benefits that enhance family and community health. This project aims to create a scalable model for change that: 1) provides a more participatory way of working with youth to recognize and address the barriers they face in making healthy decisions in their lives; 2) creates a space for new dialogue (and potentially models of governance) concerning the roles of the state, community leaders, and youth in addressing barriers to young women’s reproductive health; and 3) empowers communities, working together, to generate a locally appropriate, multisectoral intervention that draws on both local and international knowledge to improve young women’s reproductive health.

Fertility, Child Health and Human Capital in Low Income Countries

Principal Investigators: Ian Coxhead; Lia Fernald; Jenna Nobles; Alberto Palloni

We seek funding to estimate the effects of child nutritional status on individual characteristics associated with population-level human capital formation, economic growth, and income inequality. In combination, nutrition and attendant health status predict mental and emotional development, educational achievement and attainment and, ultimately, labor force participation, occupational attainment and wages. We choose to study these relations in the context of Indonesia, a country that simultaneously experiences a decline in fertility that favors maternal and child health and nutritional status and the adoption of behaviors associated with breastfeeding, diet and behavior that hinder them.