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Global WACh & Coulter Foundation 2014 Pilot Award

We are pleased to announce that the Global WACh/W.H. Coulter Foundation Seed Grant for 2014 has just been awarded to Drs. James Lai, Barry Lutz, and David Horne for their excellent proposal focused on point-of-care tuberculosis testing. The doctors were first approached with the idea by two students attending  Global WACh’s  course on Bioengineering Solutions to Improve the Health of Women, Adolescents and Children (WINTER | GH590). Nuttada Panpradist (Bio Engineering) and Diana Marangu (Global Health) were very excited, and had this to say about their involvement:

We are delighted to be the part of the team that has received the 2014 Coulter Seed Grant Award. Who could imagine that this all started from participating in the Bioengineering-Global WACh Seminar? We both have been very passionate about tackling the diagnostic dilemma in tuberculosis and were fortunately paired together to develop a solution to one of the many challenges in Global Health. Our mentors were very supportive and drove us to think critically about this challenge when we shared our idea with them. This experience has been a wonderful learning opportunity, from the process of grant writing and now seeing this idea being potentially translated into reality. The world needs a low-cost, accurate diagnostic tool for active TB that uses a non-invasive sample like urine. Hopefully, this technology can be truly implemented at all levels of healthcare and benefit patients with TB who need it the most.

Tuberculosis affects 9 million people with 1.7 million dying every year. Because most TB testing requires 6-8 weeks and a culture of sputum, it’s been difficult to implement methods of detection in limited resource settings. Many of the methods currently in use are not widely available, and delays in diagnosis can mean easier transmission of the disease.  Being able to diagnose the disease using efficient, same day methods that use urine samples instead of sputum would be a great step in the right direction. That’s what Drs. Lai, Lutz, and Horne hope to do, so please join us in congratulating these great researchers and students who are helping to improve the health of women, children, and adolescents everywhere!