Research

Smart Systems for Diagnostics

A key component of our research activity is focused on developing smart, simple and cost-effective diagnostic devices for invasive and non-invasive diagnostics. Currently, we are working on robust platforms for drug efficacy testing, combined micro-fluidic and telemetric platforms for HIV and malaria testing and cell-phone based tools for oximetery and CO2 monitoring. Our strategy is problem focused rather than platform focused as we try to optimize our platforms for specific needs in the field. With the help of our partner companies and institutions, we try to take an early prototype to the field and do feasibility testing before developing a full-scale solution. Most recently we developed cell-phone powered and solar powered pulse-oximeter for applications in rural Zambia, that is currently being implemented in both rural and urban healthcare facilities in Zambia.

For more information see our recent publications.

Partners: USAID, USP and CGHD

Policy and Modeling in Global Health

Management of available resources in health care systems in developing countries is a complex problem.  In such resource-limited settings, it is of exceptional importance that the allocation of available funds and supplies is done as efficiently as possible.  Often, the complexity of the system at hand can be difficult to manage with simple judgmental choices.  Without knowing how all relevant variables function within the larger system, it is difficult to accurately predict the outcome of new policies.  Modeling aspects of health care as complex systems can provide policy makers a global view of the challenge at hand, allowing them to make informed decisions based on all relevant factors. More specifically, the use of models can help identify instances of acute need for appropriate medical technology projects.  From our experience, we have identified a fundamental gap in communication between enthusiastic, capable organizations and members of developing communities.  Often, the challenges in resource-limited settings are so vast, complex, and seemingly immovable, that individuals find it almost impossible to envision solutions.  What is needed is a way to translate the needs of a community, as identified by its members, into efficient, sustainable, and manageable projects.  Employing the concepts of operations decision making and model building can help to quantify the system at hand and bridge that gap, allowing manageable projects to surface.

Currently, we are employing quantitative systems-level thinking to the burden of pneumonia in children under five years of age in the sub-Saharan country of Zambia.  Pneumonia, and the associated system of diagnosis and treatment, is a perfect candidate for systems modeling and analysis.  Pneumonia is unlike other high-profile diseases in developing counties (such as AIDS and malaria) in that its etiology is incredibly complex.  While significant progress has been made with malaria, for example, over the past five to ten years, efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality due to pneumonia have been largely unsuccessful.  By modeling pneumonia as a complex system, we hope to elucidate the relations between relevant factors, such as air pollution and breastfeeding, and the rates of morbidity and mortality.  By quantifying the system in this way, we hope to aid in optimizing new policies and projects.

Partners: WHO, CGHD

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