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Researcher wins Gates foundation grant to study preeclampsia in pregnant women

Scientist hopes to find cause of often deadly condition

4/28/2011
Mahua Choudhury
 

AURORA, Colo. – A University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher, hoping to find the cause of preeclampsia in pregnant women, won a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Thursday which funds innovative global health and development projects.

“I feel honored to have been selected for this prestigious award,” said Mahua Choudhury, PhD, a research fellow specializing in neonatology at the CU School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. “Childbirth is a wonderful thing but when a mother and child die it’s a double tragedy. So if I can contribute in any way to preventing this I would be very satisfied.”

The Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) awards fund scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can solve persistent global health and development challenges. 

Choudhury’s project, entitled `A Sensitive Epigenic Tool for Prediction of Preeclampsia,’ is one of 88 GCE grants announced Thursday by the foundation. She was one of a 2,500 applicants from 100 countries.

“GCE winners are expanding the pipeline of ideas for serious global health and development challenges where creative thinking is most urgently needed.  These grants are meant to spur on new discoveries that could ultimately save millions of lives,” said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

To receive funding, Choudhury and other winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development areas: polio eradication, HIV, sanitation and family health technologies, and mobile health. 

Choudhury focused on preeclampsia because of its widespread occurrence and the fact that it kills over 75,000 women and babies every year. Women with the condition develop high blood pressure and protein in their urine. Choudhury said four to eight percent of pregnant women in developed countries are affected by it along with 15 to 20 percent in developing nations. 

“It is a condition with many facets but no single factor is found in all patients,” she said. “That indicates that there is true causation still out there, a central unifying factor.  And I am hoping we can find it.”

Successful projects have the chance of receiving a follow-on grant of up to $1 million from the Gates foundation.

 

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to nearly 500 researchers from over 40 countries.  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. Applications for the current open round, Grand Challenges Explorations Round 7, will be accepted through May 19, 2011. 

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the UC Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies.  The School is located on the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the UC Denver newsroom online.

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Contact: David Kelly, 303-315-6374, david.kelly@ucdenver.edu