May 29, 2018

WCU Faculty Member Receives Prestigious Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Award to Help Adolescent Mothers in Zimbabwe

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $100,000 Round 20 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant to West Chester University Assistant Professor of Health Chiwoneso Tinago and her research colleagues to develop and test a community-based peer-support intervention for adolescent mothers in Harare, Zimbabwe. Assistant Professor Tinago is collaborating with Director of Global Health Initiatives Edward Frongillo and Postdoctoral Associate Andrea Warren, both from the University of South Carolina; Dr. Florence Assistant Professor of Health Chiwoneso TinagoMuchirahondo, psychiatrist, University of Zimbabwe; and Executive Director of SpeakUp! Martie Bernicker. The Gates' Grand Challenges initiative fosters early-stage discovery research in an effort to expand the knowledge needed to solve growing global health and development challenges.

Working with adolescent mothers, the research team will develop a peer-support group structure that will leverage community health workers, technology, and the involvement of key community stakeholders to help lessen the stigma of adolescent motherhood in Zimbabwe. The intervention, which has been specifically designed to develop coping, parenting, and communication skills, builds on previous research conducted by the team with adolescent girls and young women in Zimbabwe.

"I am proud of the work that Assistant Professor Tinago and her colleagues have embarked upon to help uncover viable solutions that will make a difference in the lives of many," said WCU President Christopher Fiorentino. "We at WCU are honored that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding one of our own for this invaluable research."

Upon receipt, initial grants are awarded at $100,000 each, and successful projects are eligible to receive follow-on funding of up to one million dollars.

Scott Heinerichs, interim dean for WCU's College of Health Sciences, said, "We are honored that Chiwoneso and her team were selected for this work. She is a committed scholar who embraces the College of Health Sciences' strategic priorities. She contributes cutting-edge research and thought leadership to improve public health and well-being, and this project will improve health equity, outcomes, and services within a global context."

Chiwoneso Tinago joined the WCU faculty in the Department of Health as an assistant professor in 2016 after completing her Ph.D. in public health with an emphasis on health promotion, education, and behavior from the University of South Carolina. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate public health courses. Assistant Professor Tinago conducts community-based participatory research focused on improving maternal and child health outcomes, particularly in southeast Africa. She is currently an active member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health, the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).