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University of South Florida

Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development


Tampa, FL – University of South Florida announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Principal investigators Dr. Guitele Rahill and Dr. Manisha Joshi will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Krik Krak: Mental Health for Pregnant Haitian Teens.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  Dr. Rahill and Dr. Joshi’s project is one of 35 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 20 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Dr. Rahill and Dr. Joshi and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of three critical global heath and development topic areas.  Th

“Krik Krak: Mental Health for Pregnant Haitian Teens”, harnesses the cultural strengths of the highly valued Krik/Krak Haitian oral storytelling tradition and integrates it with multiple media platforms, which will be delivered to high-risk pregnant teens aged 13 to 19 who live in Haiti’s Cité Soleil.  The aim of this youth-friendly video intervention is to enhance teens’ sense of agency, enrich their capacity to form healthy maternal-child attachments, and reduce depressive and trauma symptoms they experience as a consequence of neighborhood stressors and trauma exposure, including intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual assault (SA), in a context of limited social support, damaging gender norms, and stigma.

The proposed intervention, a series of videos in DVD and electronic format and on a website and a Facebook page, with related posters and brochures, will include content about childbirth, transition to motherhood, and skills and resources for coping with depression and trauma during the identified periods.  Actors used will resemble targeted teens in racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic features.  The next step is to use the final produced videos to target pregnant teens from early pregnancy through the post-partum period, an opportune timeframe to deliver an intervention to reduce depression and PTSD in the peripartum period.  Targeting pregnant teens positions us to address pregnancy and early postpartum issues and to potentially impact fetus health and infant morbidity/mortality in the neonatal period.  Moreover, the intervention for pregnant girls in the 13-19 age range addresses adolescent susceptibility to mental health disorders and takes advantage of that age group’s interest in social media.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 1365 projects in more than 65 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.

About the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three separately accredited institutions: USF, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 50,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.8 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF ranks in the top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2018, the Florida Board of Governors designated USF as a Preeminent State Research University, placing USF in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.

For more Information

Principal Investigator and Pirmary Contact: Dr. Guitele J. Rahill:

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