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Priority Themes

​The Grand Challenge Fund is focused on supporting research and innovation in priority thematic areas of national interest, including:

a) Food Security, including but not limited to:

        Nutrition and Human Capital

    • Food security research, its measurement and consequences on human health and capital
    • Implementation research to address nutrition problems in Pakistan
    • Impact of undernutrition on early child development and potential undernutrition
    • Undernutrition (stunting, wasting), risk factors, consequences and potential solutions for Pakistan
    • Micronutrient deficiencies, risk factors, consequences & potential solutions for Pakistan
    • Cost effectiveness research to address the double burden of malnutrition and nutrition transition (overweight and obesity)
    • Employment of different technologies to provide clean drinking water
    • Efficient and Integrated Nutrient Management
    • Use of genome editing and gene drive for control of insect pests of crop and disease vectors for human and animal diseases
    • Development of nutraceutical production from medicinal plants

       Crop Production

    • Breeding models for dairy, beef and small ruminants for livestock farming systems
    • Productivity improvement in aquaculture
    • Improved management strategies for enhancing reproductive efficiency
    • Nutritional interventions (including local soybean production) for reducing cost of production
    • Use of genomics and sexed semen for enhancing the quality and quantity of milk and meat production
    • Improved methods of silage, hay and feed production at farm level
    • Internationally accepted sanitary and phytosanitary measures
    • Effect of uncapping of meat and milk pricing on their productivity
    • Food (of animal origin) and feed safety
    • Improving field efficacy of existing veterinary vaccines and new veterinary vaccines
    •  Field diagnostic tests (animal-side/ penside)

 b) Water Management and Sustainability, including but not limited to:

    • Water Quality Monitoring and Control Systems
    • Techniques for improving the water quality through well integrated drainage systems and large-scale, low cost, and scalable waste water treatment systems
    • Enhancing financing for water sector through rationalizing of water rates and water charges;
    • Reducing excessive mining of groundwater through better regulation and pricing mechanisms; and through Innovative socio-technical approaches to water conservation
    • Improve water productivity and sustainability: River basin management (IWRM approach) for groundwater management; improving water governance (demand based irrigation, appropriate water pricing, pancho irrigation etc.)
    • Development of Water management equipment/tools/ techniques
    • Techniques to control water charge discharge in soil
    • Recover fresh water from salt water tube well 

c) Sustainable Energy, including but not limited to:

    • Battery and storage technologies (focusing on Thin film solid electrolytes for optical and energy storage applications, Fabrication of high capacity nickel hydride batteries
    • Efficient and smart grids (focusing on Innovation mechanisms for reduction in transmission and grid losses in legacy infrastructures)
    • Sustainable platforms for urban, rural, and intercity mobility
    • Smart and sustainable energy solutions for urban, rural, and remote areas
    • Renewable energy system development
    • Energy management
    • Biomass/biofuels development from waste
    • Solar Thermal Systems for Comfort Conditioning
    • Low cost hydrogen storing nano materials development with high energy density including aluminum alloys with other metals and their oxides
    • Design of fuel cells of higher power (focusing on Membranes for fuel cells and electro dialysis systems)
    • Energy systems based on solute or salt concentration system
    • Optimal control methods development to maximize energy efficiency
    • New nuclear reactions with better control and safety
    • Oxygen enrichment in air for fuel burning reaction for efficiency improvement
    • Inorganic membranes and modules fabrication study for natural gas purification
    • Energy systems using gas phase cooling systems to save huge amount of water
    • Design and fabrication of hydro, gas and steam turbines in Pakistan
    • Enzymatic scarification of wheat straw for enhancing bio ethanol production

d) Sociology and Philosophy, including but not limited to:

    • Identity politics: The factors leading to perpetuation of Pakistan's identity crisis and in defining the pathways to robust nation building
    • Gender: The factors responsible for, and the social and economic cost of, the prevailing gender gap and discrimination, and to identify pathways for better gender equality in the country
    • Population: Micro and macro causes and effects of high population growth and on better management of population programs and population
    • History: Olfactory, gastronomy and medicine histories, Ecological history, Social memory, and Oral histories
    • Critical translations of primary textual sources

e) Development Economics, including but not limited to:

    • Fiscal, monetary and price stability
    • Investment, savings and economic growth
    • Export competitiveness and balance of payment fragility as a constraint to stability and growth
    • Employment, skills development and labor market imperfections and interventions
    • Interplay between population growth and economic development
    • Innovation of products for local and foreign market
    • Reverse supply chains
    • Pandemic / disaster resilient economic models and solutions
    • Efficient Industrial Systems Design Technologies
    • Efficient Inventory Control Strategies
    • Smart Quality Monitoring Systems
    • Supply Chain Management
    • Smart Systems for Market Analysis/Forecasting 

f) Urban Planning, including but not limited to:

    • Multidisciplinary approaches to explore and understand connections (or lack of them) between ecology and urban planning, waste management, creative recycling methods, flora and fauna and environment relationships
    • Sustainable urban design
    • Low-cost housing
    • Mobility and transport
    • Planning for and preservation of urban space and life
    • Economic, sociological, and cultural triggers for the planning and creation of second tier (and new) cities and towns
    • Provision of quality of urban life such as issues related to transportation and congestion, waste collection and disposal, water and sanitation, healthcare and education, and law and order
    • Smart cities
    • Solid Waste Management and Recycling Technologies
    • Economical new construction materials
    • Foldable and flexible dye sensitized solar energy harnessing systems
    • Self-cleaning paint development for decomposition of pollutants in air

g) Climate Change and Environment, including but not limited to:

    • Climate mitigation, adaptation, policy dialogue interventions and disaster management (focusing on climate modelling and disaster surveillance, environment monitoring, geological monitoring)
    • Metro-scale pollution reduction technologies
    • Protection of available trees through artificial intelligence system controls
    • Use of membrane systems for gaseous and water industrial waste treatment
    • Design and development of hybrid membranes and classical system per requirement of site and location
    • Processes identification and development of hospital waste treatment
    • Removal of arsenic and other toxic metal elements from industrial effluents, water underground aquifers.
    • Climate smart agriculture: Adapting agriculture production to climate change by developing climate resilient crop varieties with regard to heat, drought and flooding (especially of wheat and cotton)

h) Information Technology and Telecom, including but not limited to:

    • Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing and Big Data, Cyber Physical Systems, Robotics
    • Development and use of education and health-related information and communication technologies such as exploitation of economic and technological impacts of mobile broadband and 3G/4G networks particularly for less literate and largely illiterate populations
    • Addressing the disparities in access of technology; development, deployment, and exploitation of 5G networks; 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) within the Pakistani context
    • Scalable models of education and healthcare delivery through the use of ICT
    • E-commerce and E-governance applications

i) Innovative Governance and Reforms, including but not limited to:

    • Participatory government and its effectiveness (focusing on incentive structures accountability and government responsiveness)
    • Civil service reforms
    • Judicial reforms
    • Effective use of open data (OD) in evidence-based policy making
    • Transparency and use of Right to Information (RTI), citizen scorecards, or similar mechanisms for holding the government to account; mechanisms for creating local capacity to provide policy advice in areas of critical national importance

 j) Health and wellbeing, including but not limited to:

           Public Health Surveillance and Epidemiology

    • Investigating cellular and molecular basis of immunity to common infections and outbreaks such as SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on possible interactions with infectious agents endemic to Pakistan
    • Utilizing genomic epidemiology to investigate spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Pakistan
    • COVID-19 and Infectious diseases (biosafety, biosecurity, active surveillance)
    • TB, AIDS, Dengue & Malaria (Community engagement & mobilization; resistance strengthening; environmental strategies for vector control)
    • Monitoring and management of drug resistance in infectious diseases
           Immunology, Diagnostics & Vaccine Technology
    • Vaccines (focusing on technology transfer and indigenization)
    • Establishment and scale-up of recombinant vector for expression systems for different target antigens such as, adenovirus vectors, lipid delivery systems.
    • Intelligent and point of care diagnostics based on CRISPR-Cas and other emerging technologies

           ​​Non-Communicable Diseases, Population Health and Genomics

    • Diabetes (developing operational pilots for holistic and integrated, primary care models)
    • Cardiovascular diseases (focusing on low cost and affordability)
    • Public mental health problems (focusing on its demystification, and trickle down to lower tiers, i.e., primary care setting)