Cycle One - Planning Grants 2017

The following proposals were received during summer 2017 and awarded funds up to USD$25,ooo from the Cycle One of Planning Grants. Please scroll further down to view Cycle Two Planning Grant Awardees.

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"Strengthening Health Service Delivery and Building Human Capacity to Reduce Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in Sierra Leone”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: School of Medicine, Carey Business School, Whiting School of Engineering, Jhpiego, and Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Soumyadipta Acharya, Jean Anderson, Rachel Chan-Seay, Grace Chen, Jenell Coleman, Maqbool Dada, Ahizechukwu Eke, Clark Johnson, Nancy Kass, Ekene Ojukwu, John Sampson, Jeffrey Smith
  • COUNTRY FOCUS: Sierra Leone
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Gender Equity and Justice

In Sierra Leone, the probability of a woman age 15-49 dying from maternal causes is 58% as compared to 1% in the United States. The lack of women’s reproductive health providers and inadequate levels of basic and comprehensive obstetric care are major factors affecting increased maternal mortality and morbidity, as well as the loss of workforce suffered during the 2014 Ebola crisis. To address these gaps, the project aims to develop a phased, comprehensive, sustainable, and high-quality strategy to build capacity in women’s reproductive health care. The team will draw on science and expertise from business process improvement and total quality management (TQM), and bioengineering design and techniques to rethink healthcare service capacity with a focus on equity and justice.

“Addressing health disparities impacting suicide: A systems dynamic approach for planning prevention programming with displaced populations”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: School of Public Health, Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Paul Bolton, Soshanna Fine,  Emily Haroz, Tak Igusa, Catherine Lee, Paul Nestadt, Qi Wang, Holly Willcox
  • COUNTRY FOCUS: Thailand
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Gender Equity and Justice

Suicide rates for refugee and displaced populations are thought to be even higher, likely due to a combination of elevated traumatic exposure, including gender-based violence, socioeconomic factors, and unequal access to appropriate and quality services, compared to non-displaced populations. However, very little is known about how to prevent suicide particularly in the context of displacement, with no known programs or studies focused on preventing suicide for this population. The project will use Community-Based Systems Dynamics, a participatory and innovative approach, to plan for addressing the suicide burden among displaced persons and the complexities of suicide prevention in the context of displacement in Thailand.

“Prioritizing gender equity in midwifery care: improving maternal and newborn health through nurse-midwifery leadership development in Tanzania”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: Bloomberg School of Public Health, Jhpiego, School of Education, Whiting School of Engineering, Carey Business School, School of Nursing
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Myra Betron, Mario Macis, Julius Masanika, Rosemary Morgan, Eric Rice, William Smedick, Karen Trister Grace
  • COUNTRY FOCUS: Tanzania
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Gender Equity and Justice

Nurses and midwives are critical members of the health workforce in many low- and middle-income countries, and provide essential maternal and newborn care to promote safe pregnancy and wellbeing of mother and child. In Tanzania, however, the low social status of and minimal investment in nurse-midwives prevents them from providing high-quality, lifesaving care. This project aims to harness a gender transformative leadership approach to address gender inequity in nurse-midwifery education leadership and competency development. Combining the strengths of several JHU schools and affiliates and Tanzanian partners, the group aims to ultimately support midwives to improve maternal and newborn health.

“Promoting Safe Passage from Adolescence to Adulthood for Native American Women”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Nursing, Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Kamila Alexander, Allison Barlow, Teresa Brockie, Jacquelyn Campbell, James Case, Sarah Connor, Zhaohao Fu, Charlotte Gaydos, Timian Godfrey, Novalene Goklish, Emily Haroz, Tak Igusa, Lauren Tingey, lawrence Wetsit
  • COUNTRY FOCUS: White Mountain Apache & Sioux Nations
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Gender Equity and Justice

Adolescence can be a time of growth and exploration, but can also be a period of risk. Gender-based sexual, physical, and emotional violence and related risks—including STIs, substance abuse and self-harm—disproportionally affect Native American adolescent females. Led by faculty at the Johns Hopkins University Center for American Indian Health, this project will adapt innovative mobile technologies and social media to promote emotional and physical wellbeing among adolescent Native American women in the White Mountain Apache and Sioux nations. The group aims to design an app that can be scaled to other nations and indigenous settings across the US and the world.

“Integrating refugees into national health systems: Enhancing equity and strengthening sustainable health services for all”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: Bloomberg School of Public Health, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, School of Advanced International Studies
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Sara Bennett, Meaghan Charlton, Nour Jaber Chehayeb, Fadi El Jardali, Will Cragin, Mohammed Darwish, Hussein Ismail, Marwa Mahmoud, Linda Matar, Sarah Parkinson, Paul Spiegel, Alfred Tager
  • COUNTRY FOCUS: Jordan, Turkey, Uganda
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Gender Equity and Justice; Transformative Technology & Institutions

Conflict and crisis in the last decade have left thousands displaced from their homes and seeking refuge in camps or other shelters. However, despite significant health needs, refugees living outside of refugee camps typically face higher obstacles to health care compared to host nationals. A team of faculty from JHU School of Public Health, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and School of Advanced International Studies will explore collaborations with colleagues in Jordan, Turkey, and Uganda to describe how health system institutional arrangements may be transformed so as to enhance access to sustainable, quality health services for both refugee and host populations, and diminish current inequities between these populations.

“The DART Study - The Development of an Antigen Rapid dipstick Test for Bedside Detection of Pediatric Tuberculosis”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: Bloomberg School of Public Health, Whiting School of Engineering
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Amanda Debes, Robert Gilman, Lance Liotta, Alessandra Luchini, Peter Searson, Zach Silverstein, Hannah Steinberg, Jacqueline Yang, Sameen Yusuf
  • COUNTRY FOCUS: Bolivia
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Transformative Technology & Institutions

A significant proportion of the more than 10.4 million people who had TB in 2015 are children, however, research into improved detection and treatment of pediatric TB has been neglected. We propose the development of a transformative technology to improve health outcomes in the affected pediatric population while revolutionizing the ability to detect pediatric tuberculosis with an easy to use, rapid point of care test with high sensitivity and specificity. The team will bring together expertise from public health and engineering to develop a nanoparticle-concentrated urinary-antigen diagnostic assay that can be used easily in resource-constrained areas to aid diagnosis of pediatric TB.

“Creation of an ecosystem for equitable innovation and patient care in ophthalmology”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: School of Medicine, Whiting School of Engineering
  • TEAM MEMBERS: David Friedman, Christine Diaz, Yueheng Dou, Ailon Haileyesus, Kunal Parikh, Benjamin Ostrander, Mohit Singhala, Katherine Solley
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Transformative Technology & Institutions

Vision loss represents an enormous healthcare burden that affects more than 940 million individuals globally, particularly in central and southeast Asia, which account for the largest percentage of the world’s blind. Enabling eye care providers to obtain the best solutions for their populations will enhance global equity in eye care. Faculty from the Dana Center for Preventative Ophthalmology aims to collaborate with the Center for Bioengineering and Design and Aravid Eye Care System to develop a full landscape of the most significant needs in ophthalmology, and build the foundation for a multidisciplinary, collaborative ecosystem for equitable innovation and patient care in ophthalmology.

“A novel screening tool for identifying children at risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD): feasibility to estimate prevalence in a low-resource environment”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: Bloomberg School of Public Health, Whiting School of Engineering
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Andrea Carcelen, Li Ching-Lee, Nicholas Durr, Paola Donis Noriega, Robert Gilman,
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Transformative Technology & Institutions

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) currently affects nearly 1 in 160 children worldwide. However, there are no prevalence estimates in Peru, as ASD is difficult to diagnose in resource-limited settings. Previous work by this group has been testing a novel inexpensive, tablet-based eye tracking diagnostic tool for use in diagnosing children 18 months and older who are at risk for ASD. This project will bring together bioinformatics experts, epidemiologists, psychologists and engineers are proposing to use this device to identify children with ASD at a young age.

Cycle Two - Planning grants 2017

"Reaching Vulnerable Girls in India with HPV Vaccination (RVGI)"


  • RESEARCH TEAM: A collaboration of Carey Business School, School of Education, International Vaccine Access Center, Jhpiego, and Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Mary Jennings, Sharon Kim, Somesh Kumar, Adetoun Olateju, Eric Rice, Megan Wysong, Vineet Srivastava
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Gender Equity and Justice, Transformative Technologies and Institutions

Current human papilloma virus vaccination (HPVV) intervention programs focusing on school- and facility-based approaches risk perpetuating the inequity of out-of-school girls’ access to health services, but little is known about how best to reach this vulnerable population. India, with its high cervical cancer prevalence, large numbers of out-of-school girls, supportive policy environment, and growing momentum for HPVV introduction, is an ideal location for the development of an intervention model that can be adapted and replicated elsewhere. The project approach will emphasize participation and collaboration from target communities, out-of-school girls themselves, and their family decision-makers, and if successful, this project could have far-ranging impacts on HPVV programs in India and globally, as well as adolescent health, education and development programming.

"Transformative Technology for Zero TB in Tibetan Kids"


  • RESEARCH TEAM: A collaboration of School of Medicine, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing and Bloomberg School of Public Health. 
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Lelia Chaisson, Richard Chaisson, Kunchok Dorjee, Jason Farley, Lisa Folda, Dawa Phunkyi, Tsetan Sadutshang, Sonam Topgyal
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Transformative Technologies and Institutions

Tibetan refugees in India suffer great health disparities, with especially high rates of tuberculosis. We have detected extremely high TB case-rates (758/100,000) and infection rates (22%) in Tibetan children in boarding schools in India, 12-times that of Indian children. Using transformative technologies in an innovative service delivery model, our multi-disciplinary team proposes to collaborate with the Tibetan Delek Hospital in Dharamsala, India, to combat TB in Tibetan boarding schools across India using point-of-care molecular testing, novel treatment for latent TB, electronic treatment adherence monitoring, and social media for mobilization and education. Results from this project will inform policy and action at national and global level, especially as screening and treatment for latent TB remain largely suboptimal despite a proven benefit of TB preventive therapy.

“Testing a thermal cooker to reduce household air pollution and make cooking with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) affordable and sustainable in Puno Peru.”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: A collaboration of Carey School of Business, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Whiting School of Engineering.
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Elba Angeles, Sara Castro-Klaren, Leonora Condori, Paul J Ferraro, Steven A. Harvey, Marissa Henry, Joseph Katz, Suhey Vilca Mamani, Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Kendra Williams, Abigail Winiker
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Gender Equity & Justice, Transformative Technologies & Institutions, Healthy Environments, Food & Nutrition Security

Household air pollution (HAP) caused by cooking with biomass fuel contributes to some 4.3 million annual premature deaths worldwide and disproportionately affects women and young children. Substituting liquid petroleum gas (LPG) might greatly reduce HAP and the resulting disease burden, but cost is prohibitive. A possible solution is thermal cooking: heating food to a high temperature for a short time, then enclosing the pot in a heavily insulated container that maintains the temperature and continues the cooking process for several hours. Our multidisciplinary Peruvian-US team will develop and test a prototype thermal cooker using locally available materials. If successful, this technology could transform cooking, make LPG use affordable and sustainable, improve health equity for women and children, reduce negative environmental consequences of cooking with biomass fuel, and even improve rural food security and nutrition.

“Child development through safe play and song-based learning”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: A collaboration of Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Peabody Institute, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Whiting School of Engineering
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Audrey Buckland, Jennifer Brimhall, Steven Chow, Kelly Fisher, Delia Haustein, Elli Leontsini, Jessica Rothstein
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Healthy Environments

Throughout the developing world, household conditions associated with poverty jeopardize child development and health. Limited stimulation and caregiver-child interaction delay brain development, while repeated exposure to fecal pathogens during early life may further impair cognition. We propose the development of an early learning intervention that incorporates stimulating toys and a “playbook” to help caregivers engage in guided play and singing with children. The toys will have easy-to-disinfect surfaces to reduce pathogen exposure, and the playbook will include guidance on hygienic measures. To achieve the first step to developing an effective intervention—formative research with local communities—our team brings together the expertise of developmental psychologists, a music educator, an environmental engineer, international health researchers, and local partners in Lima, Peru. The Alliance for a Healthier World Planning Grant will support a collaborative effort of formative research to characterize local norms and inform the design of an integrated intervention package. We expect these activities to support a larger study involving pretesting, intervention implementation, and evaluation.

“Addressing Health System Barriers to Evidence-Based Asthma Care in Low-Resource Communities of Lima, Peru”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: A collaboration of Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Medicine, and Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Karen Baldwin, William Checkley, Marilu Chiang, Oscar Flores, Josiah Kephart, John Mann, Suzanne Pollard, Ileana Rodriguez, Elisa Romani
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Healthy Environments

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood, which, if left untreated, can have deleterious effects on health and wellbeing throughout the lifespan. Children living in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban slum conditions, grow up in social and physical environments conducive to poor respiratory health. This proposal aims to use research as a vehicle to promote health equity and justice in communities disproportionately affected by asthma in Lima, Peru. It has been estimated that between one in ten and one in five children in Lima are living with asthma. Although the Peruvian Ministry of Health has national guidelines for asthma management, the treatment gap for evidence-based asthma care in peri-urban communities of Lima remains high. The determinants of this treatment gap are complex and act at multiple levels, warranting the development of a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary approach. The overall goal of this planning grant is to bring together a diverse group of experts to develop and plan a theory-based intervention strategy to reduce the asthma treatment gap in peri-urban communities in Lima, using a community-based participatory approach.

“Planning the implementation of data-driven computational technologies to reduce waiting lists in a health delivery network for low income patients in Chile”


  • RESEARCH TEAM: A collaboration of Carey Business School, School of Medicine, and Whiting School of Engineering
  • TEAM MEMBERS: Jiarui Cai, Jocelyn Dunstan, Diego Martinez, Maria Soledad Martinez, Rodrigo Martinez, Diana Prieto, Jingwen Shao
  • THEMATIC AREA(S): Transformative Technologies & Institutions

In Chile, 73% of the population receive government-funded healthcare. This population is subject to waiting lists for surgeries and specialist consultation that are not managed by the government for many disease conditions. This has created health inequities in the timeliness of attention of patients with higher risk of disease deterioration. These numbers compare to the 993 deaths in the waiting lists of diseases managed by the government. In this planning grant, we propose to evaluate the feasibility of implementing two data driven models: 1) A surveillance system of weekly indicators of waiting list performance, and 2) An algorithm for personalized waiting assignment. The analysis will be conducted for a healthcare network attending a significant number of low-income patients in 4 hospitals and 80 primary care centers in the South East of Santiago Chile. The team that is poised to address this challenge has multidiscipline expertise on public health policy, medicine, and quantitative analysis of health supply networks. Findings from this planning grant will inform the development of a full-fledged implementation proposal.


We will feature follow up stories on progress made by research teams in coming months, so please check in again to read about success stories and lesson learned.