Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 4/18/2022

Global Grand Challenges: Integrating Tradition and Technology for Fermented Foods for Maternal Nutrition

Embracing the tradition of microbial fermentation to transform locally available foods into naturally vitamin-fortified, toxin-free, flavorful, and shelf-stable products could empower local communities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on supply chain/food security and improve the health and nutrition of mothers and children in the most vulnerable settings. Historical advances in food processing have largely employed strategies that involve supplementation with micronutrients and additives to improve nutritional content and stability, but these approaches require highly centralized supply chains. In addition, chemical additives for preservation, flavor and texture purposes may have unintended consequences of contributing to compromised gut health and increased prevalence of metabolic disease (hypertension, diabetes, obesity).

Beyond many of the well-known examples of microbial fermentation, the vast majority of fermentation processes around the world remain uncharacterized and their potential human health benefits are unknown. These ancient practices may hold the key to impactful and locally targeted nutritional interventions that combine tradition and science to tackle malnutrition. Rigorous scientific evaluation has been limited and characterization to understand potential benefits could be pursued to validate and underscore the importance of preserving this cultural heritage.

This call seeks to fund pilot studies that investigate the biological effect of traditional locally fermented foods on key microbiome, gut, and health biomarkers in local populations. The goal is to provide investigators in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with the resources to build local capacity to investigate fermented foods as novel maternal nutrition interventions. In particular, sequencing technology – a transformative tool that has enabled in-depth investigation of microbial communities – will be provided to all investigators to democratize the ability to investigate foods and health effects, and build local capacity. Ultimately, the goal is to empower local communities to develop geography and culture specific interventions powered by fermentation, in country.

As a part of this Grand Challenges award, sequencing platforms (funded with up to USD $40K for sequencing technology out of this USD $200K award) and training will be provided to investigators to enable local sequence-based characterization of the fermented foods and microbiome effects. The output of this study will be pilot data evaluating the biological effect of traditional fermented foods on gut, microbiome and health axes in local populations. Any additional points on the sustainability of the intervention and the empowerment of local champions to continue the work, integrating with state and national level Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) programs would also be welcome.

Deadline; Jan. 6, 2021

Eligibility Requirements

Grand Challenges is open to both foreign and domestic organizations, including non-profit organizations, for- profit companies, international organizations, government agencies and academic institutions. Individuals and organizations classified as individuals for U.S. tax purposes are not eligible to receive an award from the foundation as part of the Grand Challenges initiative.