The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), in collaboration with the Yale School of Public Health, the Institute of Public Health (ISC / UFBA) and the Faculty of Medicine of UFBA, received a grant from the Grand Challenges Explorations, a program funded by the American Foundation Bill & Melinda Gates. The donation, worth $ 100,000, will be used to promote the discovery of potential outbreaks of diseases such as zika and chikungunya.

Professor Federico Costa (ISC / UFBA), who is also a professor at the Yale School of Public Health and a researcher at Fiocruz, is the principal investigator of the study. Also participating in the project is Professor Mitermayer Reis, from the Faculty of Medicine of UFBA. To conduct the tests, the team intends to carry out the genetic sequencing of 160 clinical samples of patients from two hospitals in Salvador.

Scenario

With nearly 3 million inhabitants, the metropolitan region of Salvador was the zero-point for the zika epidemic in 2015. Tropical climate, accelerated urban growth and social inequalities make it a propitious area for the spread of vector-borne pathogens.

In addition to the zika and chikungunya viruses, the researchers have identified outbreaks and groups of leptospirosis and rickettsiosis in the capital of Bahia, as well as meningococcal and norovirus epidemics. The threat of other outbreaks is constant, since yellow fever, Mayaro, Oropouche and many hemorrhagic fever viruses are known to circulate in Brazil.

As an important transportation hub and a popular tourist destination, the region has greater potential for outbreaks if not controlled. According to Professor Federico Costa, the objective of the project is to be able to detect the causes of serious infectious diseases in Salvador, identify the risk factors for the infection and evaluate the pathogens for their potential to emerge as a global threat.

The program

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) was created to inspire ideas that seek solutions to persistent global health and development challenges. The concession process is highly competitive. Of the approximately 1,700 applications in this round, only 56 grants were awarded worldwide.

Each beneficiary receives an initial award of $ 100,000. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive funding of up to $ 1 million. To be benefited, research teams need to demonstrate a bold idea in one of seven critical global health and development areas.