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This collaboration, funded by the Wellcome Trust, between researchers in Kenya, South Africa, Thailand and the United Kingdom aims to fill the critical gaps in ethics guidance for responsible research with women, children and families in low-income countries by considering the ethical rationale and challenges of relying on research as a tool to respond to biomedical and social vulnerabilities. It is an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods study with investigators in bioethics, maternal-child health, infectious disease and social science.

Our goal is to advance our understanding of specific vulnerabilities in context and from participants’ own perspectives, capacity for resilience, the role of social support in mitigating vulnerabilities, strategies for empowering participants through research, and the role of research in building evidence-based interventions for vulnerable populations. The outcomes will help inform innovative, engaging, and ethically responsive approaches to research aimed at lessening the burden of disease shouldered by women and children living in extremely challenging social, economic, and political contexts.