Swiss TPH has been awarded four out of six new research grants from the Principal Investigator Initiative of the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH).
The initiative aims to drive interdisciplinary research that addresses critical challenges in global paediatric health and medicine.
Today, the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) announced the support of six research projects within it’s new Principal Investigator Initiative (PII). PII projects bring together researchers from its partner institutions and international partners to deliver innovations and intervention strategies for paediatric health diagnosis, disease treatment and prevention on a global scale.
Swiss TPH and partners were successful in this highly competitive call, and will obtain funding for four out of six exciting research projects. Each project is supported with up to CHF 1 million for a duration of four years.
The following projects were selected:
Feasibility and Economic Evaluation of Improved Child Deworming
Parasitic worm infections are still very common, particularly among children living in areas with limited access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Moreover, children are at the highest risk of morbidity associated with chronic worm infections. “In this new project, we will evaluate a new combination therapy for soil-transmitted helminth infections into routine neglected tropical disease control activities in Uganda,” said Jennifer Keiser, Swiss TPH and consortium lead. “We are proud to contribute directly to the advancement of worm infection management affecting poor and marginalised children in LMICs.”
The consortium, which is led by Swiss TPH in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Uganda, will also assess the feasibility, acceptability and cost-effectiveness of this deworming treatment, develop delivery toolkits for effective child deworming tailored for local settings and support policy change at national and international levels.
New Tools for Early Diagnosis and Decentralised Treatment of Buruli Ulcer
Buruli ulcer is a neglected tropical disease resulting in debilitating skin lesions, disabilities and stigmatisation. Buruli ulcer primarily affects children in West and Central Africa and most infections occur in remote, rural areas where patients have limited access to appropriate interventions.
“In this project, we aim to develop a simple point-of-care diagnostic test and a rapid treatment for Buruli ulcer that can be implemented at the primary healthcare and community levels,” said Daniel Paris, Head of the Department of Medicine at Swiss TPH and consortium lead. “This project will enable rapid diagnosis and early treatment of Buruli ulcer, preventing long-term suffering, stigmatisation and permanent disabilities in afflicted children.” The consortium is led by Swiss TPH in partnership with ETH Zurich and Hemetron AG.
Visual Analysis of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets to Maximise Universal Access
Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are the mainstay of malaria control. However, more than 50% of people living in endemic areas are currently unprotected because LLINs often develop holes and wear out sooner than their expected lifespan. Within this project, Swiss TPH and partners including the University of Basel, Ifakara Health Institute and the Ministry of Health in Tanzania will develop a digital tool enabling national malaria control programs to improve planning for programmatic LLIN distribution, monitoring of LLIN quality and selection of the best product for use according to contextual settings.
“We are incredibly excited to start this project on LLINs,” said Sarah Moore, Swiss TPH and consortium leader of project. “Increasing mosquito net lifespan will optimise resource use, increase the protection of children as well as reduce malaria transmission in LMICs.”
Design, Development and Evaluation of a Digital Health Assistant for Paediatric Asthma
Poor adherence to medication and insufficient monitoring are key factors that contribute to inadequate asthma control in children and adolescents. This new project aims to improve asthma control in adolescents using a smartphone-based digital health assistant designed for regular and sustained remote disease monitoring and patient coaching.
“Within the consortium, we aim to better support paediatric asthma patients by harnessing digital and AI-based approaches, as well as assessing the feasibility and scalability of the digital health assistant in low- and middle-income countries,” Said Martin Raab, Head of the Digital Health unit at Swiss TPH and member of the consortium. “We are proud of this important work that will impact the lives of many children who are currently suffering with this disease.” The consortium is led by the University Children’s Hospital Basel and University of Basel, in partnership with Swiss TPH and ETH Zurich, and the Emergency Clinical Hospital for Children in Romania.
About the BRCCH
The Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) was jointly opened in 2019 by the University of Basel and ETH Zurich. Based in Basel, Switzerland, the Centre is dedicated to advancing global child and adolescent health by developing new translational and scalable solutions in paediatrics. It combines the complementary expertise from its founding universities and the University Children’s Hospital Basel (UKBB) and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). The BRCCH is supported by Fondation Botnar.
Text: Swiss TPH Photo credit: Francesco Marzoli