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Nicole Stoffel and Michael Zimmerman presented at the 18th Grand Challenges Annual Meeting which took place in Brussels, Belgium on 23rd- 26th October 2022.

© Shutterstock/ixpert

Grand Challenges is a series of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation- backed initiatives designed to foster innovation in global health.

The two-day Grand Challenges Annual Meeting event brought together representatives from a global community of problem solvers, working to address the biggest challenges in global health and development. The event facilitates the sharing of new findings, informing of cutting-edge techniques, and allows the opportunities for collaboration. Since the first meeting in 2005, Grand Challenges Annual Meetings have been held in 11 countries.

The Grand Challenges Annual Meeting Call-to-Action allowed attendees to the virtual programme in 2021 to move forward with ideas and collaborations they developed at the programme.

At the meeting, Dr. Stoffel and Prof. Zimmermann presented their research showing iron supplementation of anaemic Kenya women improves efficacy of COVID-19 and yellow fever vaccines to Bill Gates and Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health Division at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr Nicole Stoffel, a postdoctoral researcher in the Drakesmith Group at the MRC Human Immunology Unit, was awarded a collaboration grant working with Pattanee Winichagoon from Mahidol University in Thailand. Together they will test to see if iron-fortified foods given to iron-deficient women in Thailand improves immune responses after vaccination.

Professor Michael Zimmerman, visiting Professor at the MRC Human Immunology Unit, has also been awarded a Grand Challenges Grant, working with Marion Jourdan of Danone Nutricia Research in the Netherlands to explore whether phytases produce by Bifidobacteria enhance iron absorption from food in iron-deficient children in Kenya.

“Bill Gates wanted to discuss our poster because it links two priority areas for his foundation: control of anaemia and vaccine efficacy" said Professor Zimmerman. "He was clearly interested our work and asked some good questions!”