Dr. Mahesh Karra Awarded 2020 Seed Fund

Work aims to identify strategies for delivering reproductive health services through social networks in India

Boston University Global Programs and Boston University Foundation-India are pleased to announce that our 2020 Seed Fund has been awarded to Mahesh Karra, Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and Associate Director of the Human Capital Initiative at the Global Development Policy Center. His research proposal is titled "Networks and Global Health: Experimental Evidence of Women's Social Networks, Reproductive Health, and Well‐Being in Rural India."

Dr. Karra's study aims to identify innovative and cost‐effective strategies for delivering reproductive health services through social networks in low-income settings in India. The study builds on existing fieldwork from an ongoing randomized control trial that explores the causal impact of a social network-based family planning intervention on women's contraceptive use, reproductive health, fertility, and well-being in rural Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.

"My colleagues and I are delighted to have received this award and are excited to build on our study over the next year," said Dr. Karra. "With support from BUFI and BU Global Programs, we look forward to fostering new collaborations and to strengthening our existing partnerships in India through this and future projects."

In New Delhi, India, Dr. Karra is collaborating with Dr. Praveen Kumar Pathak, Associate Professor at Jamia Millia Islamia (Central University), who is the Indian PI on the study. To further the delivery of programs and services, Dr. Pathak and the team will host dissemination workshops and meetings with local researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in India. They aim to present the findings to the India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; the Divisional and Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Jaunpur district; the ASHA workers of Jaunpur district; Banaras Hindu University; Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith University, Varanasi; and Jamia Millia Islamia (Central University).

Within the U.S., Dr. Karra is collaborating with Professor Catalina Herrera-Almanza, Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and Dr. S Anukriti, an Economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank.

They also hope to invite their partners from Jamia Millia Islamia (Central University) to Boston to participate in dissemination workshops and seminars for academic audiences at BU.

"We are thrilled to award the 2020 Seed Fund to Dr. Karra of Boston University's Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and The Global Development Policy Center," said Willis G. Wang, Vice President and Associate Provost for Global Programs. "Dr. Karr's global research in quantitative methods and evaluating the health and economic effects of improving access to health care helps advance critically important work in low-and middle-income countries. We look forward to learning about the progress he, Dr. Pathak, and the research team make in India."

About the Award

The BU Global Programs and Boston University Foundation-India (BUFI) Seed Fund Program is designed to seed new or support existing collaborative research projects in India conducted by BU faculty and their peers in India. The research project may be in any discipline but must directly benefit India. Review criteria for the seed fund include:

  • Clearly articulated potential for measurable positive impact on India and leads to improved quality of life for its people;
  • Likelihood that the project will lead to subsequent external funding; and
  • Well defined and achievable project scope, activities, and goals.