The Rockefeller Foundation Announces $3 Million in New Funding for Data Science Platform Global.health To Strengthen Pathogen Surveillance and Response
New funding will support data integration between Global.health, WHO, and others to analyze genomic, climate, wastewater, mobility, epidemiological, and clinical data to better predict emerging threats of infectious disease and coordinate the global response
NEW YORK | November 1, 2022 — Today, The Rockefeller Foundation announced $3 million in new funding for Global.health (G.h) – a leading open-source platform for scientific pandemic data – to expand G.h’s international partnerships and modernize the global effort for coordinated pandemic prevention, surveillance, and response.
“It’s time to take data collection and analytics for better public health to the next level. The scientists behind Global.health are advancing digital innovation and collaboration to establish a global early warning system for pandemics. As part of this effort, they will link up diverse data sets connecting, among other things, climate, and health, so we can better detect early warning signals for new disease outbreaks linked to our warming planet,” said Dr. Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President, Health Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are delighted to expand our support for this important initiative.”
Following initial grants from Google.org and The Rockefeller Foundation in 2020, G.h will utilize these new funds to support expanded international collaborations with leading scientific research institutions, including the WHO Hub for Epidemic and Pandemic Intelligence in Berlin, the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) in the UK, and the Gorgas Memorial Institute in Panama. Additionally, G.h will make globally available open-source tools, training, datasets, and opportunities for research, cultivating a team of scientists from around the world, prioritizing low and middle-income countries.
The $3 million in funding for G.h is made through RF Catalytic Capital, Inc. (RFCC), the Foundation’s public charity launched in September 2020 as a new innovative tool for foundations, impact investors, businesses, and governments to combine their resources to scale funding solutions and bring about transformational change during the Covid-19 response and recovery.
“We’ve learned a tremendous amount from Covid-19 about how to prepare for and better respond to infectious disease outbreaks – and high on the list are the importance of robust surveillance, reliable data, and rapid response,” said Chikwe Ihekweazu, Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization. “I welcome The Rockefeller Foundation’s support expanding the reach and impact of Global.health, including the ongoing collaboration with WHO’s Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, to allow for faster data-driven decision-making at the earliest signs of an outbreak – when it matters most.”
“Building open, transparent and, most importantly, scalable platforms that transform data points into action is vital to ensuring an informed, coordinated and swift response to current and future infectious disease outbreaks,” said Jacquelline Fuller, President of Google.org “It’s been inspiring to see how the platform, which Google employees helped to build in 2020, has evolved to meet new epidemiological crises.”
Priority initiatives enabled by this grant will include:
- Evaluating the impact of different data sources to define which data points are most useful during the first 100 days of an infectious disease outbreak.
- Developing scalable and robust open-source algorithms and data pipelines to detect and predict the emergence and geographic spread of new Covid-19 Variants of Concern (VOCs) globally.
- Combining human mobility data with network science algorithms to optimally configure and distribute public health interventions during emerging epidemics beyond the constraints of country or state borders.
- Creating open-source methods and frameworks for pandemic response analyses, so outputs can be directly usable by groups engaged in the broader ecosystem of pandemic preparedness and improve the translation of science into practical applications that are scalable and fast enough for real-world outbreak response.
- Cultivating working groups with international teams of scientists, prioritizing lower and middle-income countries to co-develop applications and translate them into real-world impact as they are being generated. Conferences, workshops, and funded collaborations will foster a global team of scientists from around the world. This includes collaborative research and scientific projects and training specific to the tools and methods developed through this grant funding.
Dr. Moritz Kraemer Associate Professor at the University of Oxford and John Brownstein, Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Co-Founders of Global.health, commented: “This new funding from The Rockefeller Foundation will allow us to dive deeper into which data and interventions have the most impact for controlling disease outbreaks at different stages of a pandemic. These are critical steps to advancing pandemic prevention and response as the threats from climate driven infectious diseases are increasing.”
Co-developed at The University of Oxford and Boston Children’s Hospital, Global.health is a first-of-its-kind open-source technology platform enabling access to real-time anonymized health data on infectious disease outbreaks. To date, the G.h database includes over 100 million detailed, verified, harmonized, and de-identified SARS-CoV-2 case records from 130+ countries: the most comprehensive repository of Covid-19 line-list data in the world.
What began as a volunteer-driven data science project at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Global.health has grown into a scalable and flexible data platform that sets a new standard for open, granular, and standardized case data that are vital for epidemiologists and public health leaders to model and mitigate the spread of emerging infectious diseases. In 2022, Global.health’s curated and validated Monkeypox case dataset became one of the most comprehensive and cited resources in the crucial first 100 days of the outbreak. For more information, visit Global.health, subscribe to our Newsletter, and follow us on Twitter.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation that enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work throughout the world to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal and sustainable. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to health care and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.