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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Grant Opportunities: Open Call: Strengthening the Contraceptive Research & Development Ecosystem in Africa | Funding Support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Deadline: 16-Dec-2022

This RFPs seeks innovations that contribute to development of safe and effective nonhormonal contraceptives that meet the needs and interests of women and that address key barriers in accessing and using currently available methods.

Grand Challenges in Global Health is seeking nonhormonal contraceptives that are easy-to-access, discreet, convenient, and non-invasive. Additionally, it is important that these methods have tolerable side effects and do not impact the menstrual cycle. This work will be led by Grand Challenges Africa, a program of the Science for Africa Foundation with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Challenge
  • They are seeking nonhormonal contraceptives that are easy-to-access, discreet, convenient, and non-invasive.
  • Additionally, it is important that these methods have tolerable side effects and do not impact the menstrual cycle. This work will be led by Grand Challenges Africa, a program of the Science for Africa Foundation with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The ultimate goal is development of novel non-hormonal female contraceptives that 1) provide safe and effective contraception, 2) do not contain sex steroid hormones or rely on hormonal mechanisms of action (e.g., do not impact the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis), 3) do not disrupt endogenous menstrual bleeding patterns, and 4) are suitable and appropriate for use in LMICs. The overall goal is to reduce the unmet need for contraception by enhancing contraceptive uptake, continuation, and satisfaction among reproductive aged adolescent girls and women who want to avoid pregnancy. Contraceptive product innovation is required to achieve this goal.
  • Equally as important, is the goal to invest in local scientific capacity in LMICs in particular to build and strengthen capacity of African scientists and institutions to conduct R&D around development of novel contraceptive products. This Grand Challenges Africa opportunity aims to expand locally led, gender-equal R&D capacity in Africa and begin to foster a thriving contraceptive R&D ecosystem on the African continent with a collaborative network of scientists working together to innovate around contraceptive R&D.
  • Specifically, the objectives of the challenge are to:
    • Advance novel and bold ideas that accelerate development of new non-hormonal female contraceptive candidates aligned with women’s preferences that are currently unmet. This includes, but is not limited to:
      • Formulation development or advances in materials science with application to non-hormonal female contraception
      • Pre-clinical development of non-hormonal female contraceptive candidates/leads
      • Development and/or testing of novel or optimized drug delivery systems with application to non-hormonal female contraceptives
      • Enhance the research ecosystem on the African continent for contraceptive R&D by expanding capacity for contraceptive R&D with qualified scientists and institutions. Applicants should describe how their proposals add value to existing infrastructure and expertise.
      • Strengthen the contraceptive R&D network on the African continent by building intra-institutional and intra-Africa linkages. Scientists with long-term partnerships within their institution or other institutions are encouraged to apply. For new partnerships, plans to maintain a productive collaborative relationship should be outlined.
    • The contraceptive needs of women and adolescent girls cover all stages of reproductive life and a variety of pregnancy preferences (delaying first pregnancy, spacing between pregnancies, and preventing pregnancy altogether), as well as an array of preferences for duration, route of administration, ability to self-administer, time to return to fertility, and experienced bleeding pattern. Given this, they will consider projects aimed at developing:
      • Systemic or intravaginal approaches
      • Continuous use methods or those for use at or around the time of sex (sometimes referred to as on-demand or peri-coital methods). They will not consider funding barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps or intrauterine approaches.
      • Methods with mechanisms of action that target
      • Follicle maturation and ovulation;
      • Sperm function within the female reproductive tract;
      • Gamete interaction through fertilization and up to the point of implantation; or
      • Effects on the endometrium. they will not consider any mechanism acting post-implantation.
      • Methods of different duration of effectiveness from shorter-acting to longer-acting, with the exception of permanent methods
      • Self-care methods, that are self-administered by women (preferred over provider administered methods).
Funding Information
  • This Grand Challenges request for proposals intends to fund awards of up to USD $350,000 and for up to 2 years, based on the scope of the proposed project.
Eligibility Criteria
  • Are led by a PI based at an African institution, including Africa-led for-profit companies based in Africa.
  • Demonstrate that at least 90% of the funding is going to support one or more African institution(s).
  • Engage scientists across a variety of disciplines, including those new to the field of contraceptive R&D.
  • Enhance the research ecosystem for contraceptive R&D and strengthen the contraceptive R&D network on the African continent.
  • Demonstrate innovative thinking by applying or incorporating concepts, methods or technologies not necessarily currently being used for contraceptive R&D.
  • Present concepts and strategies that are “off the beaten track”, significantly radical in conception, and daring in premise.
  • They particularly encourage applications involving projects led by women or from women-led organizations and applications.
Ineligible
  • They will not consider funding proposals focused on:
    • Basic studies of human reproductive biology.
    • Early-stage drug discovery such as drug target identification and validation; chemical genomics, probe generation, or pilot screening.
    • Development of research tools or biological assays.
    • Approaches/methods containing sex steroid hormones or that rely on hormonal mechanisms of action (i.e., impact the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis).
    • Male contraceptives, although sperm-based approaches that could feasibly be used as female controlled methods will be considered.
    • Barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps as well as intrauterine approaches.
    • Multi-purpose prevention technologies (MPT), for example those for prevention of pregnancy and HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. Funds from this opportunity can be used for R&D around contraceptive aspects of an MPT, but not for noncontraceptive aspects.
    • Adjunct or complementary molecules intended for co-delivery with hormonal contraceptives.
    • Methods that have a post-implantation mechanism of action.
    • Permanent methods of contraception, even if reversible.
    • Social science, implementation research, marketing, or acceptability studies related to contraceptive uptake and use, unless, as noted this work is a component of a project primarily focused on development of a contraceptive delivery system or product.
    • Methods that are unlikely to be appropriate for use in LMICs, for example due to cost, storage requirements (e.g., needing refrigeration), or need for extensive specialized training or expensive equipment for administration.

For more information, visit https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/challenge/strengthening-contraceptive-research-and-development-ecosystem-africa-accelerating

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