(Phoenix Arizona, July 25, 2011) -- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded Robert Garfield, PhD, a researcher at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, a $100,000 phase 1 grant to develop a device to prevent post-partum hemorrhage.
The grant was one of 88 awarded in round six of Grand Challenges Explorations, a Gates Foundation initiative to help lower the barriers for testing innovative ideas in global health. Phase II of the grant will amount to $1 million.
Dr. Garfield is the director of research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Joseph's. His research includes postpartum hemorrhage and preterm labor, two of the biggest problems facing pregnant women. The studies are also receiving additional funding from St. Joseph's Research Foundation and the National Institute of Health.
"Post-partum hemorrhage is the major cause of mortality in pregnant women. Worldwide, every minute one woman dies from complications of pregnancy with post-partum hemorrhage contributing more than 30 percent to this high mortality," says Dr. Garfield. "These studies, which are supported by the grant, can lead to important new ways to control bleeding in women following deliver of their babies."
The Gates Foundation grant will specifically assist Dr. Garfield in developing a compact, battery-powered device to electrically stimulate uterine contraction and prevent profuse bleeding following childbirth. The instrument could be used by any individual to reduce life-threatening postpartum hemorrhage in hospitals and in remote areas where prompt action is necessary.
"Minor post-partum hemorrhage is usually well controlled in developed countries like the United States with excellent medical facilities, doctors and medications," says Dr. Garfield. "However, major post-partum hemorrhage is a huge problem in underdeveloped countries."