NUI Galway Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

Dr Jim Duggan, Senior Lecturer in Information Technology, College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon
Nov 15 2017 Posted: 09:40 GMT
Grant will support groundbreaking research in global health and development

NUI Galway announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Jim Duggan from the University’s College of Engineering and Informatics will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled HealthSIM.

The HealthSIM project focuses on the challenge to strengthen health systems by using computer science and analytics methods to support the design of health supply chains to enhance supply chain performance, and improve decision making in order to reduce disease morbidity and mortality, and ensure that the right medication arrives for the right person at the right time.

The idea underpinning this research proposal is to design, implement and test a cloud-based public health supply chain simulator. In effect, this will create a virtual laboratory for public health officials in low and middle income countries, and in turn support learning, information sharing, and decision making within the health supply chain.

In welcoming the funding, Lead Investigator on the project, Dr Jim Duggan from NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive this generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on a project with such high impact potential. The project is highly interdisciplinary, and involves collaboration with our colleagues in the School of Medicine, and also our international partners from our recent EU-funded PANDEM* project. The project highlights the exciting potential of collaborating with public health professionals to apply computer science and mathematics to help address sustainable development challenges.”

Grand Challenges Explorations supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr Jim Duggan’s project is one of 51 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 19 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Dr Jim Duggan and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global health and development topic areas. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next Grand Challenges Explorations round in February 2018. 

This is the second Grand Challenge NUI Galway is undertaking. In 2013, a team worked with a group of female smallholder farmers in Tanzania to design and develop their own labor-saving agricultural tools using the latest 3D printing tools. The University’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi, commented: “Grand Challenges Explorations is identifying some of the most pressing problems of our times and rallying scientists and innovators around the world to come up with real solutions. We look forward to the work Jim Duggan and his team will do to help create a smoother pipeline in the supply of lifesaving medicines and care.”


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