Strengthening Data Science Capacity and the Ecosystem: Enabling Data-Centered Public Health Interventions

Due Date: 01/13/2022
Funder: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

About the Opportunity

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 skeptical 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.

Collecting, sharing, analyzing, and interpreting health-related data are essential to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice as well as enabling advanced knowledge for health emergency preparedness. Many data resources are not reusable if they have not been sufficiently documented and contextualized, or appropriately collected and licensed for use, particularly in cases where secondary analyses are planned that were not originally anticipated when the data were originally generated.

The desired outcome of this request for proposals is the development of tools and processes that are “fit-for-purpose” to facilitate collaboration among researchers in low- and middle-income countries. This effort is focused on filling data science gaps and challenges whose solutions will address global health problems while fostering multi-disciplinary collaborations among researchers. We are specifically interested in funding proposals led by early and mid-career researchers. We expect each primary applicant to have a senior scientific advisor who would commit to providing scientific and technical guidance and mentorship to the team and facilitating connections with international networks as needed.

Proposals are due January 13, 2022.