Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research — Research on Drought-Tolerant Rice


Grant Investigators: Chris Somerville and Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigators. Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $122,500 over three years to support work on CRISPR modifications to increase drought tolerance in Indian rice, a project led by Professor Brian Staskawicz at UC Berkeley. It’s our understanding that sporadic drought has caused Indian rice yields to become erratic, which has negative impacts on the livelihood of about 100 million small farmers. The proposed experiments will exploit recent advances in genome editing. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) plans to match our support, and we intend this funding to support the research of PhD student Nicholas Karavolias. A portion of the funding supports Nicholas’s inclusion in the FFAR Fellows Program, a three-year leadership and professional development program for 22 PhD students in the agricultural and life sciences.

This follows our October 2018 support to UC Berkeley and falls within our work on scientific research.

 

The grant amount was updated in May 2022.

Project Peanut Butter — Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food RCT (2019)


Grant investigator: Jacob Trefethen

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Project Peanut Butter staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $484,785 over two years to Project Peanut Butter to complete a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the effects of reformulated ready-to-use therapeutic foods on cognitive functioning in children with severe acute malnutrition.

This follows our September 2016 grant, which helped launch the RCT, and falls within our work on scientific research, specifically within our interest in advancing human health and wellbeing.

Engineers Without Borders USA — Off-Grid Refrigeration Challenge

Community members in Panama learn to cut and thread galvanized iron pipe. (Photo courtesy of EWB)

Grant investigators: Heather Youngs and Chris Somerville

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. EWB staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $500,000 over two years to Engineers Without Borders USA to support the Affordable Off-Grid Refrigeration Challenge. The competition will seek to develop proof of concept prototypes for refrigerators and ice-makers that have the potential to provide sustainable and affordable refrigeration for off-grid, developing world communities. Engineers Without Borders USA believes that affordable off-grid refrigeration will help reduce illnesses and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases, food poisoning, and malnutrition, and that making refrigeration more widely available will also diminish food waste, enable small farmers to grow higher value crops, and reduce the burden on women by eliminating the need to travel to the market daily for perishable food.

This discretionary grant falls within our work on scientific research, specifically within our interest in advancing human health and wellbeing.

University Health Network — Preterm Birth Research (2019)

Pregnant women living in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia face high rates of preterm birth as a result of multiple risk factors. (Photo courtesy of University Health Network)

Grant Investigator: Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. University Health Network staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $1,134,975 to the University Health Network, a Canadian research center affiliated with the University of Toronto, to support a randomized controlled trial investigating the efficacy of an intervention to reduce preterm birth in Kenya. Preterm birth is a leading cause of global under-five mortality, resulting in over 1 million deaths each year.

Pregnant women living in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia face high rates of preterm birth as a result of multiple risk factors, including protein-deficient diets and a high burden of diseases, including malaria, anemia, and HIV. This trial will compare the current standard of care for expectant mothers in Kenya, which includes dietary supplementation of iron and folic acid, to the same standard of care with the addition of the amino acid L-arginine, an essential nutrient in pregnancy that contributes to healthy placental development. The research will be led by Kevin Kain and Chloe McDonald.

This falls within our interest in scientific research, specifically within our interest in advancing human health and wellbeing.

Center for Global Development — Gene Drive Research

Grant investigator: Alexander Berger

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Center for Global Development staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $348,550 to the Center for Global Development (CGD) for research on the assessment and regulation of gene drive technology. CGD plans to use this grant to identify key political and social considerations that may inform global decisions on the development and deployment of gene drive technology, particularly with respect to malaria. CGD will conduct interviews and site visits to develop a better understanding of regulatory, social, and political considerations at play in different contexts. The research will be led by Gyude Moore, CGD visiting fellow and former Minister of Public Works in Liberia.

This discretionary grant falls within our work on scientific research, and specifically within our interest in advancing human health and wellbeing.

The grant amount was updated in May 2020.

CDC Foundation — Malaria Control Research Project (2018)

CDC’s insectary and mosquito lab, where research on malaria control is conducted. (Photo courtesy David Snyder / CDC Foundation)

Grant Investigators: Chris Somerville and Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigators. CDC Foundation staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $1,044,501 to the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support research on malaria control. This funding will be used to support work on the cryopreservation of mosquito larvae and embryos (which, if successful, would make it easier for researchers to maintain different strains of mosquitoes) and on RNA interference (which could lead to important improvements in efforts to control mosquitoes that spread malaria). Conceptually, we consider this part of our previous grant to Target Malaria.

This is a renewal of our September 2016 grant to the CDC Foundation and falls within our work on scientific research.

UC Berkeley — Research on Drought-Tolerant Rice (Brian Staskawicz)

A rice farm in rural India. This grant supports research seeking to increase the drought tolerance of Indian rice. (Photo by Ramnath Bhat)

Grant Investigators: Chris Somerville and Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigators. UC Berkeley staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $200,000 over three years to UC Berkeley to support Professor Brian Staskawicz’s work on CRISPR modifications to increase drought tolerance in Indian rice. It’s our understanding that sporadic drought has caused Indian rice yields to become erratic, which has negative impacts on the livelihood of about 100 million small farmers. The proposed experiments, which will be funded in part by a match from the Innovative Genomics Institute, will exploit recent advances in genome editing.

This discretionary grant follows our December 2016 support of a plant pathology workshop at UC Berkeley and falls within our interest in funding scientific research.

New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency — General Support

A group photo of health and environment regulators, officials of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and partners at the First Consultative Meeting on Gene Drive held in Accra, Ghana. (Photo courtesy of NEPAD)
Grant investigator: Claire Zabel

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. NEPAD staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $2,350,000 over three years to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency, the technical arm of the African Union, to support the evaluation, preparation, and potential deployment of gene drive technologies in some African regions. NEPAD plans to use this grant to develop regulatory capacity for novel vector control approaches, including gene drive mosquitoes, at national and regional economic levels; support the functioning of relevant regulatory bodies in areas related to transgenic mosquitoes; conduct study tours for key stakeholders at political, regulatory, scientific and community levels; engage communities and the public through outreach and education; and develop guidelines and other technical documents related to synthetic biology and gene drive technologies.

This is one of several grants we are recommending with a goal of supporting gene drive technologies to help eliminate malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa, if feasible, ethical, safe, approved by the regulatory authorities, and supported by the affected communities. The rationale behind this effort is described in more detail in our writeup about a larger grant we made to support Target Malaria.

UC Berkeley — Plant Pathology Workshop (Brian Staskawicz)

Published: March 2017

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $63,000 to the Innovative Genomics Institute at UC Berkeley to support a two-day workshop on plant pathology with a small group of experts organized by Professor Brian Staskawicz. The workshop was intended to identify and discuss specific research topics in plant pathology related to increasing crop disease tolerance and/or resistance that might merit philanthropic support, with the goal of improving the welfare of small farmers in the developing world.

CDC Foundation — Malaria Control Research (2016)

CDC’s insectary and mosquito lab, where research on malaria control is conducted. (Photo courtesy David Snyder / CDC Foundation)
Published: May 2017

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $1,214,437 to the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support research on malaria control.

Conceptually, we consider this funding part of a larger grant we recommended to support Target Malaria. We lay out the reasoning behind the grant in more detail on the linked page, along with more information about the proposed research. This funding for the CDC Foundation will be used to support work on the cryopreservation of mosquito larvae (which, if successful, would make it easier for researchers to maintain different strains of mosquitoes) and on RNA interference (which, if successful, would make it easier for researchers to avoid releasing female mosquitoes — which could potentially spread malaria — as part of field trials).