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Sherri Brown

Trudeau scholarship winner

June 28, 2007

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By Carol Thorbes

Sherri Brown’s doctoral research has the potential to save millions of lives. And the passion with which the SFU PhD student is trying to make life-saving drugs more accessible in developing nations has earned her a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation doctoral scholarship.

The Trudeau scholarships, named after the late Canadian prime minister, are the largest in Canada for doctoral studies in the social sciences and humanities. Worth up to $200,000 over a maximum of four years, only 15 of the coveted national prizes are awarded annually to doctoral candidates who stand out because their research addresses compelling present-day concerns.

Brown’s award is for $150,000 over three years. It will let her evaluate the efficacy of global public-private partnerships, known as GP3s, in getting life-saving drugs and vaccines to people infected with HIV and dying of AIDS in Africa. Brown seeks to remedy what she calls "a serious dearth of studies that investigate how individual partnerships work and what impact they have."

In recent years, pharmaceutical companies, governments and intergovernmental organizations have partnered to increase access to essential medicines and vaccines for infectious diseases that are killing millions of people in Africa. GP3s are supposed to compensate for market and government difficulties in getting drugs and vaccines to people with HIV/AIDS in a timely and economic fashion.

Brown says these partnerships are largely unregulated and unmonitored. She wants to develop a model for implementing GP3s to make anti-retrovirals more accessible in developing countries, where she says pharmaceutical companies are guided more by the protection of patents and the pursuit of profit than saving lives.

"When you know that anti-retroviral drugs are available and easy to administer it is horrific to see people suffering and dying at home and in hospitals of AIDS, as I have in Ghana," says Brown. "It’s beyond objectionable."

Brown also recently received the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s prestigious Canada Graduate Scholarship, worth $105,000 over three years.

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