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Assoc Prof Rebecca Traub

Dr Nerissa Hannink
+61 3 8344 8151
0430 588 055


University of Melbourne announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Associate Professor Rebecca Traub will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled ‘Accurate diagnosis of parasites in fixed stool’.

The project aims to greatly improve the surveillance of soil-transmitted and food-borne parasitic infections that affect some of the most resource-poor and remote communities in the world by allowing stool samples to be preserved and transported to centralized diagnostic facilities in a simple and cost-effective manner. 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.  Associate Professor Traub’s’s project is one of more than 55 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 17 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

To receive funding, Associate Professor Trauband other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of six critical global heath and development topic areas.  The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in February 2017.    

Associate Professor Traub will join Professor Mathirut Mungthin from the Phramongkutklao College of Medicine, Bangkok, Thailand to work on the epidemiology, diagnosis and control of soil-transmitted helminths, protozoa and food-borne parasites in developing communities.

“Around a billion people worldwide suffer gastrointestinal parasite infections, including roundworm, whipworm and hookworm,” said Assoc Prof Traub.

“These, and many other gastrointestinal parasites can cause illnesses including diarrhoea, anaemia and impaired cognitive and physical development in children.”

Currently, samples for diagnosis must either be tested on-site by specialist staff or refrigerated for transport to central laboratories, translating to increased costs and limited diagnostic capabilities in many communities most at risk from these parasites.

The technology being tested in this project could allow local medical staff to take samples and send them to central laboratories via conventional transport, where they could be tested with both basic and the most advanced diagnostic techniques available.

“The aim of this research is to provide low-cost diagnostics to resource-poor and remote communities in Africa, Central and South America and the Asia Pacific and consequently, better disease surveillance to accurately assess parasite control programs,” Assoc Prof Traub added.


About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 1228 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants.  The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization.  The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required.  Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.