On Tuesday, September 13th, I received a book in the mail. Not just any book, but a book that I believe will set the tone for a new area of science and health care. I was honoured to be chosen to receive the book The Grandest Challenge1 written by Dr. Abdallah S. Daar and Dr. Peter A. Singer.
The tag-line Taking Life-Saving Science from Lab to Village beautifully encompasses the purpose of the book which details the journey of Abdallah and Peter as they combine their enthusiasm for basic science with passion for equal health care world-wide. Both men are currently professors at the University of Toronto and hold numerous other titles and prizes, including advising the WHO, UN and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation1.
Notably one of the most exciting initiatives which Abdallah and Peter are part of is the internationally recognized Grand Challenges Canada. The mission of the Grand Challenges is to identify critical barriers disabling progress in the world’s lowest economic countries and thereby propose and implement solutions to aid development.
From the publication Grand Challenges Canada2, a Grand Challenge is defined:
A “Grand Challenge in global health” has been defined as: “A specific scientific or technological innovation that would remove a critical barrier to solving an important health problem in the developing world with a high likelihood of global impact and feasibility”3
Or, put more simply:
“A specific critical barrier that if removed would help to solve an important health problem”4
In the 2008, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Development Innovation Fund (DIF), which has the mandate to
Support the best minds in the world as they search for breakthroughs in global health and other areas that have the potential to bring about enduring changes in the lives of the millions of people in poor countries (Grand Challenges Canada publication 2 http://www.grandchallenges.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/thegrandchallengesapproach.pdf).
The concept of Grand Challenges has been published in numerous scientific journals including Science (Varmus et al., Science 2003) and Nature (Daar et al., Nature 2007) 3, 4.
This past Wednesday was the launch of The Grandest Challenge1 for which I was in attendance. I was privileged to meet both Abdallah and Peter as they introduced their book to an absorbed audience. The doctors humbly thanked their teams as well as their families. It is obvious to me that their dedication to global healthcare stems from their absolute love for their families.
A book discussion was conducted on Thursday and unfortunately I was unable to attend. Fortunately, Stephane Paquette, a student from my lab, was able to go. Look for his post coming soon summarizing the discussions of The Grandest Challenge with Abdallah and Peter. Stephane has excellent analytical and writing skills and I am looking forward to reading his post.
At the moment, I am partially through the book. Once I have finished I will post a summary and review of The Grandest Challenge1. What I have read has been a fascinating mix of basic science, descriptions of global challenges and personal stories – a very humanized reflection of scientific advances in the 2000s.
The Grandest Challenge can be purchased from Random House Canada here. For more information on the book or Grand Challenges Canada, you can go to The Grandest Challenge Facebook page or the Grand Challenges website or the Grand Challenges Facebook page.
1. Singer,P.A. & Daar,A.S. The Grandest Challenge: taking life-saving science from lab to village (Doubleday Canada, Random House of Canada Ltd.,2011).
2. Singer,P.A., Daar,A.S., & Brook D. Grand Challenges Canada. 2011.
Ref Type: Online Source
3. Varmus,H. et al. Public health. Grand Challenges in Global Health. Science 302, 398-399 (2003).
4. Daar,A.S. et al. Grand challenges in chronic non-communicable diseases. Nature 450, 494-496 (2007).