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Grand Challenges Explorations research grant

June 4, 2014

 The Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington has received a grant from Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Debby Herbenick, co-director of the school’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Development and Testing of the Female Pleasure Condom.”

Grand Challenges Explorations funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Herbenick’s project is one of more than 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Herbenick and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 12 winners demonstrated a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, behavior change, and looking into animal and human health.

In the current project, Herbenick and her team are working to develop an innovative female condom that is attentive to women’s genital anatomy and that enhances sexual pleasure. Their idea grew from research as well as many years of talking with individuals and couples throughout the world about condom use, HIV/STI prevention, and pleasure.

“Female condom innovation is in its infancy, and we believe that safety and pleasure don’t have to be in conflict,” Herbenick says. “We hope to create a product that promotes pleasure while helping to save lives.”

Herbenick is a sexual health researcher and educator who has published more than 80 scientific papers across a wide range of human sexuality topics, including condom use, genital self-image, sexual pleasure, and female orgasm. She has previously contributed to the design of other sexual health products. Her collaborator on this project, Frank Sadlo, is an independent consultant with a focus on efficiency, consumer product innovation, and international product standards.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the initiative was launched in 2008, more than 950 people in more than 55 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 $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.