“Happy Feet” Biometrics Program Receives Gates Foundation Grant
An innovative project investigating how linking infant footprints to vaccination records could improve vaccination programs in the developing world has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
AsianScientist (Dec. 12, 2011) – An innovative project investigating how linking infant footprints to vaccination records could improve vaccination programs in the developing world has received funding from Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The RMIT University project is one of 110 Grand Challenges Explorations grants recently announced by the foundation, which support researchers worldwide in testing unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges.
RMIT’s Dr Stephen Davis and Professor Kathy Horadam will collaborate with the University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Jodie McVernon to collect and study footprints of babies under the project, dubbed “Happy Feet” by the researchers.
The vision is for health workers to access the vaccination histories of children by scanning or photographing their footprints, removing reliance on parent-held immunization cards that are readily lost or damaged.
“Biometrics for very small children is notoriously difficult because infants grow, and they grow fast,” Dr. Davis said.
“We have ideas about how to overcome this, and we think the footprint is the ideal biometric to work with. We have nicknamed our study ‘Happy Feet’ and we are very excited to be funded,” he said.
The US$100 million Grand Challenges Explorations initiative supports projects that show promise in tackling priority global health issues where solutions do not yet exist. Nearly 500 researchers from more than 40 countries have received grants since the program’s 2008 launch.
Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year, with successful projects given an opportunity to receive follow-on grants of up to US$1 million.
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