PUCRS Professor awarded Bill & Melinda Gates grant

Thiago Wendt Viola to work on project on detox treatment for women users of cocaine and crack

24/11/2020 - 17h11

Professor Thiago Viola / Photo: Release

School of Medicine professor, Dr. Thiago Wendt Viola, has been awarded with a grant from the project Grand Challenges Explorations – Brazil: Data Science Approaches to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Brazil. The call is embraced by an initiative created by the Gates Foundation in 2010 named Healthy Birth, Growth & Development knowledge integration.

The call will provide funding for innovative projects using analysis of databases and machine learning techniques to unveil the main factors that impact maternal and child health as well as women’s health in Brazil to propose solutions in these areas.

Viola’s project, titled Predictive factors for response to the treatment offered by SUS to women users of cocaine and crack: epigenomic and supervised learning algorithm analysis, has been submitted under the theme Women’s health – Identification of factors associated with alcohol abuse and abuse of other drugs among women and their impacts on health. This was the only project from Rio Grande do Sul that has been selected.

According to Viola, the research aims to identify clinical, sociodemographic, psychosocial, neurocognitive and epigenomic factors that can predict the response for the detox treatment offered by the Universal Health System (SUS) for women users of cocaine and crack. These findings can directly assist in the development of public policies and more effective prevention and intervention methods.

In addition, it will employ artificial intelligence and supervised learning methods in data analysis. This proposal also includes the creation of support mechanisms for health care professionals who work with the target population under study.

Shared knowledge

The outcomes of the research will serve as the basis for the development of an online extension program to share the data. Ultimately, the goal is to equip SUS professionals to apply them. “The course will multiply the knowledge produced for health professionals specialized in drug addiction, and contribute to their training and development”, the researcher adds.

The project results from the joint efforts involving health services and national and international research groups, which have been working on projects associated with the use of crack and cocaine. Over the past 10 years, the team at PUCRS’ Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (DNCL), coordinated by Viola and Prof. Rodrigo Grassi, mapped out and collected data from crack and cocaine user (s) in Rio Grande do Sul.

About the call

This joint call for proposals Grand Challenges Explorations, targeted exclusively, and for the first time, at Brazilian researchers, is the result of a partnership between the Ministry of Health (MS), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), the National Council of State Foundations for Support to Research (CONFAP), the State Foundations for Support to Research (FAPs) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (FBMG).