UC Riverside Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

UC Riverside professors will work on a multidisciplinary approach to explore “inciting healthy behaviors” using a cell phone based game

Eamonn Keogh's face

Eamonn Keogh, a computer science professor, is leading a team of professors who won a Gates Foundation grant.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — The University of California, Riverside announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Eamonn Keogh, a professor of computer science in the Bourns College of Engineering, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled, “Inciting Healthy Behaviors: Nudging using Prompt-Execute-Gauge, a Human Computation Game.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Keogh’s project is one of more than 60 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Keogh and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas. The foundation is accepting applications for the current GCE round until November 12, 2014 11:30 AM PDT.

Keogh, a three time winner of a Gates Foundation grant, will work with Sang-Hee Lee, an associate professor of anthropology at UC Riverside, and Mindy Marks, an associate professor of economics at UC Riverside, on a multidisciplinary approach to explore “inciting healthy behaviors” using a cell phone based game. There are many behaviors that, especially in the developing world, people know are good for them, yet because of forgetfulness, those behaviors are not always performed, Keogh said. These include using a bed net every night to prevent mosquitoes spreading malaria, or remembering to take medicine every day.

The researchers will create a general framework by which people play a simple cell phone “game,” such that a side-effect of the game is that the desired healthy behavior is performed. The team is counting on financial incentives to help on the economics side of the motivation equation, as participants in the study work to change their habits. The team will first test their ideas in the U.S., incentivizing students to attend extra study sessions, before conducting a study incentivizing the use of bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1070 projects in more than 60 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. 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 US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.


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