OHSU Women’s Health Research Unit receives Phase II Grand Challenges Explorations funding

11/05/12  Portland, Ore.

New grant awarded to continue funding research on low-cost, nonsurgical long-term contraceptive method to be administered by health care workers in developing countries

Oregon Health & Science University will receive Phase II funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that enables individuals worldwide to test bold ideas to address persistent health and development challenges.

Jeffrey Jensen, M.D., M.P.H., a nationally prominent reproductive scientist and director of the Women’s Health Research Unit at OHSU, will continue to pursue an innovative global health research project on Polidocanol foam to be used as a low-cost, nonsurgical long-term contraceptive method which could be administered by health care workers in developing countries.

“About one-third of women worldwide who have chosen to not have any more children undergo a voluntary surgical procedure to prevent additional pregnancies. A safe, effective nonsurgical method of voluntary permanent contraception would make this procedure safer and reduce costs,” said Jensen.

Today, more than 200 million women in developing countries who don’t want to get pregnant lack access to contraceptives, information and services. Some women want short-term contraceptive methods to plan and grow their young families while other women have completed their families and desire a long-term method.

In 2010, Jensen was awarded a Phase I grant for this work. Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) Phase I recognizes individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world’s toughest and persistent global health and development challenges. GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve the problems people in the developing world face every day. Phase II recognizes those ideas that have made significant progress toward implementation.

Jensen’s project is one of the Phase II Grand Challenges Explorations grants recently announced.

“We’re excited that we consistently receive so many surprising ideas from around the world and that we’re able to provide a second round of funding for some of the most unconventional among them,” said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Applications for the current open round, Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10, will be accepted through Nov. 7, 2012.

Polidocanol is an FDA-approved agent currently used to treat varicose and spider veins. It works by causing excess connective tissue to form within the cell lining of blood vessels, collapsing and closing the vessels.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 700 people in 45 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.

About Jeffrey Jensen, M.D, M.P.H.

Dr. Jensen’s research focuses on reducing unintended pregnancy by expanding contraceptive options and improving existing birth control methods. Jensen is the Leon Speroff Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine; and a senior scientist in reproductive science at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center. He is Principal Investigator (PI) at OHSU for the National Institute of Child Health and Development-funded (NICHD-funded) Contraceptive Clinical Trial Network, and is Co-PI of the NICHD-funded Contraception Research Development Center at ONPRC. He also is a member of the International Committee for Contraceptive Research.