Rosenkranz Prize Winners: Helping Children Grow in Bangladesh and Preventing Blindness in West Africa

Rosenkranz Prize winners Jade Benjamin-Chung and Arthur Brant with Rosenkranz Symposium Speaker Sheila Tlou (middle.) Photo by Rod Searcey

The Rosenkranz Prize is endowed by the family of Dr. George Rosenkranz to honor his legacy of scientific innovation to improve global health in low- to middle-income countries.

The 2023 Rosenkranz Prize winners both believe their research has the capacity to not only change population health policy one day — but also reduce health disparities in developing countries with low-cost and straight-forward interventions.

The Dr. George Rosenkranz Prize is awarded by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Health Policy to Stanford researchers of all disciplines doing innovative work to improve health in low- to middle-income countries. It is endowed by the family of the late scientist who devoted his career to improving health-care access across the world.

“Both Jade and Arthur are doing highly innovative work on incredibly complex population health challenges, with the potential for upending traditional approaches in their fields,” said Grant Miller, professor of health policy and chair of the Rosenkranz Prize selection committee. "Their personal commitment as well as their new ways of approaching old challenges, truly exemplify the tradition that Dr. George Rosenkranz and his family have established.” 

This information is critical for persuading policymakers to fund and scale up health interventions and may inform the design of other child development interventions."
Jade Benjamin-Chung, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Preventing Child Stunting in Bangladesh

Jade Benjamin-ChungPhD, MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Stanford Medicine, applies causal inference and machine learning tools to investigate ways to control or eradicate infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and parasitic diseases. The epidemiologist spent years working in Haiti, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh, observing first-hand how structural causes of inequality influence disease. 

Benjamin-Chung, who is also a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub investigator, will use the $100,000 prize to build on her research into child exposure to soil in the rural homes of Bangladesh. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions have been the cornerstone of preventing diarrhea, the second-leading cause of death among children 5 and younger. The dehydration from severe diarrhea kills more than 2,000 children around the world every day — more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

According to Stanford research, while WASH interventions do improve overall health, they have not been that successful in preventing stunting among young children. If a child doesn’t grow normally within the first two years, it can impact growth and cognitive functions later in life.

“The disappointing impacts of WASH on child health spurred our team to radically rethink strategies to prevent child soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection and diarrhea in low- to middle-income countries,” Benjamin-Chung said.


Benjamin-Chung’s investigative team has launched a randomized trial in 800 eligible households in the rural areas of the southeastern Comilla district of Bangladesh, where more than 75% of households have soil floors. Eligible households will include pregnant women in their second or third trimester. The team will install concrete floors starting this June when the birth cohort is still in utero; they will measure health and child development outcomes at ages 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. 

Much of life takes place on floors in Bangladesh, such as breastfeeding, infant feeding, cooking and playing. The women in her study said they would prefer smooth, clean concrete floors, but most of them cannot afford the luxury. Benjamin-Chung said that during her research in Bangladesh, she became a mother and now sees these women’s daily lives quite differently.

“I have the privilege of living in a high-income setting with running water, ample cleaning supplies, and importantly, a floor for my children to play on that I can easily clean,” she said. “If installing concrete floors benefits child health, understanding how these benefits occur is key for policy impact. This information is critical for persuading policymakers to fund and scale up health interventions and may inform the design of other child development interventions.”

Read the full article on FSI Health Policy's website