Deadline: January 13 2022

The scale and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic have reiterated the need for access to and analysis of timely accurate health data to support the implementation of control measures and to guide health interventions and evidence-based practices. The supporting infrastructures and capacities through which researchers access and analyze these data, however, vary greatly. For several reasons, researchers in the Global South often are sceptical of broad calls for data sharing when they are left out of the analysis and results interpretation. Additionally, deploying “one-size-fits-all” analysis tools and governance processes across different regions from where they were created may produce poor analysis results and could even lead to misleading interpretations and conclusions when scientists analyze data without insight from the context in which it was collected.

As such, data science infrastructure and capacity need to be proximally focused in the areas where the data emerge, to produce solutions that enable strong evidence-based practices to guide health interventions.

Specifically, the objectives of the challenge will be to:

  • Develop and improve foundational tools, standards, and protocols that enable data-centred health research, interventions, and health surveillance
  • Improve access to curated and linked datasets for research and training purposes
  • Enable South-South data-centred collaborations and build on and strengthen existing initiatives and ecosystems
  • Enhance Data Science infrastructure, analysis capabilities, and local leadership to address public health problems
  • Foster innovation with health data in the interest of their respective local communities
  • Bridge the gap between data-centred research and policy through collaborations and design of appropriate data science communication tools and channels
  • Increase health data reliability and enable reuse by developing tools and processes to curate, standardize and aggregate data
  • Improve data collection, sharing, governance, regulatory compliance, and analysis processes to enable data-centre public health research


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be developing a coordinated program in order to support these objectives. This will include cross-cutting cores which will provide specific functions to the program as well as individual research projects focusing on one of the more specific disease areas.

Applications are invited from researchers working in healthcare, academia, industry, or research foundations, and will be welcomed from researchers based in any of the following regions: Africa, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Brazil. Each proposal should be submitted by one primary applicant, but the awards require the participation of at least two research institutions from the regions listed above and not both in the same country.


Successful proposals will receive an award of up to USD $250,000 with an 18- to 24-month grant duration. While proposals require the collaborative participation of at least two investigators at institutions in different countries based in any of the regions listed above, proposals should be submitted by one primary applicant/institution. While restricted to one application per institution as the primary applicant, researchers may participate as collaborators in multiple collaborative applications.

Selected proposals will become part of a coordinated program aiming at Strengthening Data Science Capacity and the Ecosystem to Enable Data-Centered Public Health Interventions. We seek to build a network of researchers working together in close collaboration with the existing Data Science Grand Challenges network and its partners to build on lessons learned in different regions and further develop processes, tools, and governance that maximize the impact of data-focused research studies, as well as to identify and address the global data-related challenges.



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