Creative ideas to tackle disease, child labour among innovative projects rewarded

Published: 29 June 2011

Four McGill researchers receive grants awarded to “rising stars in global health” 
by Grand Challenges Canada

Delivering drugs with a technology used to draw tattoos, fighting child labour to promote health equity and facilitating HIV and tuberculosis (TB) testing. These are the McGill ideas that received a welcome boost from Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) today, along with 15 other innovative projects. Each project will receive a grant of $100,000 as part of the first phase of Grand Challenges Canada’s Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health initiative and will be eligible for an additional scale-up grant of up to $1 million.

The McGill researchers whose projects were recognized are Dr. Anne Andermann, Department of Family Medicine and St. Mary’s Hospital Center; Dr. Anny Fortin, Department of Biochemistry; Dr. Madhukar Pai, Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC); and Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, Dept. of Medicine and Research Institute of the MUHC.

Dr. Anne Andermann is one of the principal investigators of an international research collaboration called the Child Labour Evidence to Action Research Group (CLEAR). The group aims to develop a toolkit to enable community-based primary health-care workers in low- and middle-income countries to provide much-needed support to child labourers and their families, as well as to galvanize community mobilization and policy change at multiple levels.

Dr. Anny Fortin is exploring the use of a technique similar to how tattoos are designed to treat leishmaniasis, a skin disease transmitted by sand flies which affects 12 million people in Africa and the Middle East. The drug targeting the parasites would be administered using the same device that injects the ink of a tattoo – or permanent make-up – underneath the skin.

Dr. Madhukar Pai's project is to develop the world’s first strip test for TB that would allow health-care professionals to diagnose the disease within minutes, for less than $2. Though TB affects millions of people worldwide, there is no simple and cost-effective point-of-care test to diagnose the condition. In partnership with industry and academic institutions in India, Dr. Pai plans to develop a test for extrapulmonary TB similar to those that already exist for HIV and malaria.

Dr. Nitika Pant Pai's research involves using the Internet and mobile phones, along with a rapid point-of-care test to develop a public-health strategy for HIV testing in South Africa and India. Dr. Pant Pai hopes that a personalized HIV self-testing strategy will bring about a paradigm shift in HIV testing by normalizing the AIDS diagnosis and ending stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.

The objective of the Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health Awards is to tap into the creativity, knowledge and skills of emerging Canadian innovators to solve some of the most persistent health challenges in the developing world through scientific/technological, business, and social innovation. The winning submissions had to incorporate plans to address barriers to implementation, such as community values and ethics, the health systems required to deliver the discoveries, and cost-effective commercialization of their solutions.

“These innovators are dedicated to bringing change to the world’s poorest countries,” said Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. “They believe Canada has a leadership role in improving health conditions in the developing world. Collectively, they are a source of pride for our country.”

To learn more about the Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health grantees and watch videos on the projects, visit:

For more information on Grand Challenges Canada, visit

To read more about Anne Andermann's research see the McGill Reporter article:

Back to top