Hide table of contents

Open Philanthropy[1] recently shared a blog post with a list of some cool things accomplished in 2023 by grantees of their Global Health and Wellbeing (GHW) programs (including farm animal welfare). The post “aims to highlight just a few updates on what our grantees accomplished in 2023, to showcase their impact and make [OP’s] work a little more tangible.”

I'm link-posting because I found it valuable to read about these projects, several of which I hadn’t heard of. And I like that despite its brevity, the post manages to include a lot of relevant information (and links), along with explanations of the key relevant theories of change and opportunity.

For people who don’t want to click through to the post itself, I’m including an overview of what's included and a selection of excerpts below.

Open Philanthropy’s current Global Health and Wellbeing focus areas — images taken from here.

Overview

The post introduces each program with a little blurb, and then provides 1-2 examples of projects and one of their updates from 2023. 

Here’s the table of contents:

  1. Global Public Health Policy
    1. Dr. Sachchida Tripathi (air quality sensors)
    2. Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEEP)
  2. Global Health R&D
    1. Cures Within Reach
    2. SAVAC
  3. Scientific Research
    1. Dr. Caitlin Howell (catheters)
    2. Dr. Allan Basbaum (pain research)
  4. Land Use Reform
    1. Sightline Institute
  5. Innovation Policy
    1. Institute for Progress
    2. Institute for Replication
  6. Farm Animal Welfare
    1. Open Wing Alliance
    2. Aquaculture Stewardship Council
  7. Global Aid Policy
    1. PoliPoli
  8. Effective Altruism (Global Health and Wellbeing)
    1. Charity Entrepreneurship
  9. How you can support our grantees

Examples/excerpts from the post

I’ve chosen some examples (pretty arbitrarily — I’m really excited about many of the other examples, but wanted to limit myself here), and am including quotes from the original post.

1.1 Dr. Sachchida Tripathi (air quality sensors)

Sachchida Tripathi is a professor at IIT Kanpur, one of India’s leading universities, where he focuses on civil engineering and sustainable energy.

Dr. Tripathi used an Open Philanthropy grant to purchase 1,400 low-cost air quality sensors and place them in every block[2] in rural Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Using low-cost sensors involved procuring and calibrating them (see photo).

Low-cost air quality monitors undergoing calibration before field deployment. Photo courtesy of IIT Kanpur

These sensors now provide much more accurate and reliable data for these rural areas than was previously available to the air quality community.

This work has two main routes to impact. First, these sensors make the problem of rural air pollution legible. Because air quality in India is assumed to be a largely urban issue, most ground-based sensors are in urban areas. Second, proving the value of these low-cost sensors and getting operational experience can encourage buy-in from stakeholders (e.g., local governments) who may fund additional sensors or other air quality interventions.

Air quality monitoring is a major theme of our South Asian Air Quality grantmaking. We are actively exploring opportunities in new geographic areas, both within and beyond India, without high-quality, ground-based monitoring. Santosh Harish, who leads our grantmaking on environmental health, recently spoke to the 80,000 Hours podcast about this grant as well as air quality in India more generally.

2.2. SAVAC (accelerating the development and implementation of strep A vaccines)

The Strep A Vaccine Global Consortium (SAVAC) is working to accelerate the development and implementation of safe and effective strep A vaccines.

Open Philanthropy is one of very few funders supporting the development of a group A strep (GAS) vaccine (we’ve funded two projects to test new vaccines). GAS kills over 500,000 people per year, mostly by causing rheumatic heart disease.[3]

While GAS is usually an uncomplicated infection causing sore throat or rash, acute rheumatic fever (especially when untreated) can lead to deadly rheumatic heart disease or death from invasive disease. Effective treatment (penicillin) exists but has not proven sufficient to address the burden of disease, especially for people in LMICs without access to treatment. Additionally, reliance on antibiotics is risky due to the development of antibiotic resistance, which means the world wants to use these tools less.

Launch of SAVAC 2.0 at the World Congress of Rheumatic Heart Disease. Photo courtesy of Int. Vaccine Institute

With funding from Open Philanthropy, SAVAC is preparing the world for a strep A vaccine by building a network of sentinel sites, engaging industry stakeholders, and bringing together governments and international bodies.

[...]

3.2 Dr. Allan Basbaum (pain research)

Allan Basbaum is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy at the University of San Francisco. Dr. Basbaum is a leading academic on pain research; the Basbaum Lab explores how tissue and nerve injuries cause chronic pain.

Open Philanthropy funded Dr. Basbaum’s research to develop a method for imaging the brain and spinal cord of awake, free-moving animals. Specifically, he wanted to implant small cameras in mice that could simultaneously image the spinal cord and brain.

Other funders neglected this work, believing he would not be able to develop such a system. But with our support, Dr. Basbaum released a paper outlining how to successfully achieve the desired imaging modality, which has the potential to dramatically advance pain research.

Simultaneous imaging of the spinal cord and brain will allow researchers to better understand how the brain receives and responds to pain — a fundamental question in the field that remains unknown. Dr. Basbaum believes that this research will eventually help lead to cures for the ~20% of all people who live with chronic pain.[4]

Our grant to Dr. Basbaum highlights our hits-based giving approach to philanthropy. We are willing to make risky bets on potentially game-changing work, which allows us to fill funding gaps in neglected areas that do not fulfill the criteria of traditional funding agencies.

5.1 Institute for Progress

The Institute for Progress (IFP) is a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington D.C. It focuses on multiple areas that Open Philanthropy is interested in, including biosecurity and innovation policy.

In September, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a partnership with IFP to design and execute experiments to explore how the agency funds and supports research and innovation. IFP will consult with the NSF, proposing ways to improve the scientific funding process and mechanisms to fund high-risk,[5] high-reward research proposals. They will design tests of these different funding mechanisms so that the NSF and other research funders can learn more about what works.

The results of this partnership will enhance how the NSF makes investments. It will aim to reduce turnaround times on final decisions, allow greater flexibility for projects to pivot toward maximizing social benefits, and speed up real-world impact.

6.1 Open Wing Alliance

The Open Wing Alliance is a global coalition working to stop the abuse of chickens, the most numerous farmed land animal.

With support from Open Philanthropy, the Open Wing Alliance coordinates across their global network of member organizations — many of which they fund and mentor — to improve farm animal welfare worldwide.

In 2023, the alliance grew to over 100 animal welfare groups across more than 70 countries. To date, the alliance has secured 2,500+ cage-free commitments and 600+ broiler welfare policies[6] from the world’s largest corporations, 89% of which have been fulfilled.

A model cage-free farm in Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Global Food Partners

By mobilizing their extensive network of organizations and securing these cage-free commitments, the alliance is set to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of animals.  

The Open Wing Alliance’s work connects to two important themes of our farm animal welfare program: welfare campaigns for egg-laying hens and movement building. These will continue to be a focus for Open Philanthropy as we scale up our grantmaking in farm animal welfare.

6.2 Aquaculture Stewardship Council

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is one of the world’s largest certifiers of seafood sustainability; it sets strict standards for aquatic farming that ensure care for fish, workers, and the environment.

Open Philanthropy funded ASC to incorporate objective, evidence-based, mandatory fish welfare content into their existing standard. ASC will perform a final round of public consultation in 2024 before the standard goes into effect in 2025. Our program officers believe the new standard will meaningfully improve the welfare of billions of farmed fish.

ASC is part of Open Philanthropy’s farm animal welfare work focused on fish, the world’s most farmed animal. This grantee’s work also highlights one of our team’s strategies of working on formalized labeling and welfare standards.

Quick closing thoughts (from myself)

I’m really grateful to the people working on this. The projects seem valuable (and extremely underrated, at least by the general public). I'd also bet that each of these projects involves a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work that rarely gets any external appreciation.

I’m also grateful to the GHW team for their work identifying problem/opportunity areas and finding people to invest in (and for their work actually supporting these people). I sometimes want to remind myself just how incredibly uneven (and I think basically unjustifiable) the distribution of resources across issues is, which makes me appreciate this attempt to fill in the gaps even more. 

The chart below compares deaths and philanthropic/aid spending in different areas (there are also similar charts for spending on health policy focus areas and for donations to animal charities):

From this recent paper on philanthropic cause prioritization

(I work at CEA, which is an Effective Ventures project and which gets funding from Open Philanthropy. But no one asked me to link-post this; it just seemed quick and valuable.)

  1. ^
  2. ^

     A block is a subdivision of a district and consists of a cluster of villages. It serves as an administrative unit for coordinating rural development schemes and policies.

  3. ^

     The 2019 Global Burden of Disease study attributes 306K deaths to rheumatic heart disease. GAS is also responsible for deaths from invasive strep A, acute rheumatic fever (rarely directly lethal), and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

  4. ^

     A WHO study of primary care patients in 15 sites across the globe reported 22% of patients experienced persistent pain, though there is wide variance across sites (5.5-30%).

  5. ^

     By high-risk research, we do not mean work that is potentially dangerous, but work that is more of a calculated bet given its game-changing nature.

  6. ^

     These are commitments to not source eggs from caged hens and to improve the welfare of chickens raised for meat.

44

0
0

Reactions

0
0

More posts like this

Comments1
Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

Executive summary: Open Philanthropy highlights impactful projects from their 2023 Global Health and Wellbeing grantees, spanning areas such as air quality monitoring, vaccine development, pain research, and farm animal welfare.

Key points:

  1. Dr. Sachchida Tripathi deployed 1,400 low-cost air quality sensors in rural India to improve data and encourage stakeholder buy-in for interventions.
  2. The Strep A Vaccine Global Consortium (SAVAC) is accelerating the development and implementation of strep A vaccines, which could prevent over 500,000 deaths per year.
  3. Dr. Allan Basbaum developed a method for simultaneously imaging the brain and spinal cord of awake animals, potentially advancing pain research and treatment.
  4. The Institute for Progress is partnering with the NSF to design experiments and improve scientific funding processes.
  5. The Open Wing Alliance has secured 2,500+ cage-free commitments and 600+ broiler welfare policies from corporations worldwide.
  6. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council is incorporating mandatory fish welfare standards into their certification, potentially improving the lives of billions of farmed fish.

 

 

This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

More from Lizka
Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities