Indiana University Bloomington

IU receives Grand Challenges Explorations grant for research in global health and development

  • June 4, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington has announced that it is a winner of the Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Debby Herbenick, co-director of the school's Center for Sexual Health Promotion, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled Development and Testing of the Female Pleasure Condom.

Grand Challenges Explorations funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Herbenick’s project is one of more than 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 grants announced Tuesday by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Herbenick and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, behavior change, and looking into animal and human health. Applications for the next round will be accepted starting September 2014.

In the current project, Herbenick and her team are working to develop an innovative female condom that is attentive to women’s genital anatomy and that enhances sexual pleasure. Their idea grew from research as well as many years of talking with individuals and couples throughout the world about condom use, HIV/STI prevention, and pleasure.

“Female condom innovation is in its infancy, and we believe that safety and pleasure don’t have to be in conflict,” Herbenick said. “We hope to create a product that promotes pleasure while helping to save lives.”

Herbenick is a sexual health researcher and educator who has published more than 80 scientific papers across a wide range of human sexuality topics, including condom use, genital self-image, sexual pleasure and female orgasm. She has previously contributed to the design of other sexual health products. Her collaborator on this project, Frank Sadlo, is an independent consultant with a focus on efficiency, consumer product innovation and international product standards.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the initiative was launched in 2008, over 950 people in more than 55 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 $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

About the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington

The IU School of Public Health-Bloomington is reimagining public health through a comprehensive approach that enhances and expands disease prevention and reshapes how parks, tourism, sports, leisure activities, physical activity and nutrition impact and enhance wellness. Unique in the nation, the school’s multidisciplinary approach, history of community engagement and emerging strengths in epidemiology, biostatistics and environmental health bring new vigor and energy to the traditional concept of a school of public health.

With nearly 3,000 students in an array of undergraduate and advanced degree programs and more than 130 faculty in five academic departments, faculty and students conduct research, learn, teach and engage with communities across a broad spectrum of health, wellness and disease-prevention topics. In addition to its academic departments, the school administers Campus Recreational Sports, which serves roughly 80 percent of the IU Bloomington student body through various intramural, club and individual fitness opportunities.

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