Nearly half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended and current options do not meet the needs of users desiring contraception, specifically with respect to male methods which are still limited to condoms and vasectomy. Despite this, there has been little progress in the development of new male contraceptives for the past half century. This is largely due to limited funding and, by extension, limited human resources working to address this shortfall. The progress that has been made to date is thanks to the tireless efforts of a small group of passionate scientists and advocates.
In an effort to highlight the efforts of these champions of male contraception, MCI has created new funding mechanisms specifically to thank and celebrate two of our founding members: Dr. David Sokal and Beverly Tucker.
The David Sokal Innovation Awards are named after the co-founder of Male Contraceptive Initiative, Dr. David Sokal, MD, who has consistently advocated for contraceptive innovation over a long career in contraception and health. Sokal Awards are designed to spur new avenues of thinking in contraceptive development as well as public understanding. Sokal Awards are intended to focus investigators on early-stage, high-impact research such as early development projects, tools, and techniques that expand contraceptive research capabilities, or research that focuses on the social science of male contraceptives.
Beverly Tucker, MPH, MPIA, PMP, is a founding board member of MCI and has had an illustrious career in global health spanning decades, as well as continents. She is a leading voice in the field, and passionate about supporting scientists all over the world. The inaugural Tucker Award is being established in 2020 to support professional development in the setting of international health. In addition to Male Contraceptive Initiative’s ongoing Travel Grants Program, this annual award provides up to $5,000 to support a student or professional residing outside of the United States to travel internationally for the purposes of career development. The revised deadline for the Tucker Award is Thursday, April 30th. Interested applicants can learn more about the eligibility requirements here.
These new funding opportunities are part, and representative, of our funding strategy: to nurture and support professional development while driving innovation and progress in the development of new methods of non-hormonal, reversible male contraceptives. The work is challenging in many ways, but the eventual benefits of these methods is well worth the fight. This is a field of research and enquiry that needs more champions and support. Equally important, though, is taking the time to reflect upon and celebrate those that have helped pave the way for future generations of male contraceptive researchers, as well as the users of the products that are the result of decades of hard work.
We are working to develop additional funding opportunities that highlight other male contraception champions, and look forward to sharing these with you. We are also eager to partner with philanthropists and funders to co-present these awards, so please contact us to explore opportunities for collaboration. In the meantime, please join us in thanking David and Beverly for their dedication and commitment.
In addition to these innovation awards, MCI is helping to address the limited support for male contraception innovation by extending the timeline to submit applications for the 2020 MCI Trainee Fellowship to Thursday, April 30th. This opportunity is providing up to 2 years of project support. Apply today!