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Project ECHO a finalist for $100 million grant

Dr. Sanjeev Arora, center right, participates in a teleECHO video conference in this file photo. UNM’s Project ECHO is one of six finalists out of 755 proposals for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico’s worldwide success story Project ECHO is one of six finalists out of 755 proposals for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation designed to support what the organization calls a bold solution to critical social challenges.

The 17-year-old Project ECHO is a low-cost innovation using videoconferencing and software to bring top notch health care to medical workers and patients in underserved communities around the globe, UNM said in a news release.

“We are extremely humbled and excited to be part of this final round,” said Project ECHO founder Sanjeev Arora, MD.

“Especially during this moment as the world responds to a global pandemic, the need for flexible global networks that support rapid dissemination of changing best practices and encourage locally based, collaborative problem solving is critical,” he said.

Echo ensures that millions of patients receive “access to quality care close to home, in their own language, delivered by local health workers,” according to the release.

The ECHO model connects providers in underserved communities (“spokes”) with teams of specialists at regional and national medical centers (the “hub”) for long-term telementoring, collaboration, and case-based learning on urgent health topics, UNM said.

Project ECHO teams train and supports hub partners around the world on how to use the model.

MacArthur President John Palfrey, in a statement, noted that the importance during the pandemic to “reimagine our future and support the reinvention of systems and structures that create a more just, equitable, and resilient world.”

Project ECHO will present its proposal during a live event in the spring of 2021, before MacArthur’s Board names a single recipient to receive $100 million over up to six years.

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