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Controlling Citrus Disease with the Photonic Fence

We’ve talked extensively about how Photonic Fence’s light-based technology could help control diseases like malaria or Zika. But the technology isn’t just for mosquitoes. IV Lab also sees a promising future in agriculture for the Photonic Fence, where diseases transmitted by insects can devastate crop production.

Controlling Citrus Disease with the Photonic Fence

In a recent study, IV Lab proved that the technology can effectively track and shoot down the Asian Citrus Psyllid, an insect that transmits citrus greening disease. The disease has severely impacted citrus production in Florida and around the world.

Check out the full post at the IV Lab blog for more details.

Citrus growers have relied on chemical insecticides to control the pest. But in recent years the bugs have begun to fight back by developing resistance to the powerful chemicals. Pesticides have also been shown to have negative health effects on humans and wildlife, making them fall further out of favor.

Instead, the Photonic Fence works in three phases:

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Inventing for Developing World Dairy Farmers

June is National Dairy Month in the United States, celebrated since 1937 to honor the advances that made dairy consumption possible for households around the country. Yet, many small-scale farmers in the developing world lack access to the technology that makes the dairy industry possible here. Today, we’re highlighting Global Good’s Manan Shukla, who recently sat down with the African publication Rural Reporters, to talk about how invention can address some of the challenges these men and women face. 

Inventing for Developing World Dairy Farmers

Manan spoke with Rural Reporters about the AI Shield, artificial insemination technology to help both dairy and cattle farmers meet herd management and breeding challenges. Global Good recently signed a manufacturing and distribution agreement with Worthington Industries to sell the AI Shield in East Africa, an area of focus for Intellectual Ventures.

Read on for Manan’s interview on the AI Shield:

Why is AI Shield essential for dairy farmers?

In 2014, our collaborator, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, identified that the growth of artificial insemination (AI) in the developing world has been hampered by low conception rates.  Global Good (GG) embarked on innovating technologies that could improve AI outcomes.

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Behind the Breakthrough: Courosh Mehanian

For our Behind the Breakthrough this week, we’re profiling Courosh Mehanian, a Principal Research Scientist at Global Good and the Intellectual Ventures Lab. Courosh is a computer vision scientist with a background in physics and a love for learning about biology and medicine. 

Behind the Breakthrough: Courosh Mehanian

Courosh works on developing techniques to help diagnose malaria from blood smears on a microscope, developing the algorithm that analyzes the images and detects the disease.

Here are some of his reflections:

On the most rewarding part of working with IV:

“The fact that I’m working on problems that are going to benefit a large part of the world that is not served as well by technology and research makes it all the more satisfying. We’re trying to help people that otherwise wouldn’t be helped.

I think I find that a lot of the people here are motivated by that same desire to do good in the world, and that’s very refreshing. When you’re working with a group of people who are all smart, creative and share an interest in making a difference, that’s an ideal combination.”

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A “Star Wars approach” to the Battle on Zika

Intellectual Ventures was recently highlighted in a story by the Associated Press for its “Star Wars approach” to fighting the spread of the Zika virus. According to the CDC, the first cases of Zika in the Western Hemisphere were identified in May 2015 in Brazil. And just six months later the virus had been identified in an additional thirteen countries and territories in the Americas. Arty Makagon (AM), Technical Project Lead for Photonic Fence – IV's laser-based, mosquito-killing technology – discusses the role lasers could play in limiting the spread of Zika and other pathogens spread by flying insects.

A “Star Wars approach” to the Battle on Zika

Two Aedes aegypti – the mosquito type responsible for spreading Zika

Insights: What role can Photonic Fence play with Zika?

AM: “The Zika virus is unique in that everyone with a hand in trying to solve this problem is starting at ground zero. For example, there is no vaccine. And while the Photonic Fence is not a ‘silver bullet’ solution to Zika, it can act as one of many potential interventions in a broader strategy to address the virus - or any pathogen transmitted by flying insects for that matter.

The role technology plays will be one part in a comprehensive approach that involves other important elements like a good, sound public health program.”

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Global Good and MobileODT Team Up to Prevent Cervical Cancer

In recognition of World Cancer Day, Intellectual Ventures' Global Good and biomedical technology startup MobileODT discuss a new partnership where they will develop a new version of the startup’s cervical cancer screening device.

By Celina Schocken, Maternal and Child Health Advisor, Global Good

Cervical cancer is one of the most deadly – and the most preventable – diseases in the world today. In 2016 alone, nearly 300,000 women are expected to die of cervical cancer, and the number of cases are increasing. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, about 443,000 women will die each year from cervical cancer worldwide.[1]

Global Good recently teamed up with MobileODT, a company based in Tel-Aviv, Israel, to develop a new version of their cervical cancer screening device. Global Good is a collaboration between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures aimed at developing technology solutions to some of the world’s most difficult health and development problems.

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Behind the Breakthrough Answers: What Inspires Your Work?

Pursuing cutting-edge research and development is hard work. Often, even small components of a larger breakthrough require years of trial and error and creative thinking. So we asked the men and women of our Behind the Breakthrough Series – what inspires you? What keeps you focused on the goals of your work? Below, hear from two interviewees from Global Good, a collaborative effort between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures to invent, develop, and deploy commercially-viable technologies that improve life in developing countries, on how they approach some of the world’s most significant challenges.

Behind the Breakthrough Answers: What Inspires Your Work?

From L to R: Manan Shukla, Anna Bershteyn

Global Good’s work inspires me. We are a mission-driven organization that aims to make lives easier all over the world. It really grounds me when I meet with end-users and hear their feedback about our work. They are excited about what we are doing because it positively impacts them. For example, we’ve heard from numerous people who are so grateful for having vaccines because of our passive vaccine storage device, Arktek. And dairy farmers consistently tell me that our work will improve their farming and livelihood. Meeting our end-users makes me realize that what we do matters. It’s inspiring. It’s why I always tell people that I have my dream job.

– Manan Shukla, Associate Commercialization Lead, Global Good

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Behind the Breakthrough: Mark Newell

Mark Newell’s work improves lives. As a portfolio deputy director with Global Good, he focuses on boosting agricultural productivity in some of the lowest resource areas on the planet. With a background in sustainable business and energy, as well as product consulting, Mark has a unique ability to study a challenge, detect the gaps, and identify potential solutions that will be useful and usable for those who need them most. 

Behind the Breakthrough: Mark Newell

Here are some of his reflections:

On his role at IV:

“I am currently focused on improving agricultural productivity in the developing world. The overwhelming majority of the world’s underprivileged are farmers, including somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of most African countries. My main job is to support agriculture – and look for opportunities to interrupt cycles of poverty – by increasing access to water and energy through the use of technology. This work inevitably leads to a lot of questions. For example, how do we support farmers who rely on seasonal rains gain access to water year-round? What are the systems that framer operates in and where are the leverage points? What are the technology gaps that contribute to these problems? Is there a role we can play in addressing these gaps? These are the questions I ask and attempt to answer every day.”

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The Impact of Energy on Global Health

What does boosting sustainable energy access in the developing world have to do with improving global health? As it turns out, a lot.

The Impact of Energy on Global Health

Maurizio Vecchione, IV’s Senior Vice President of Global Good and Research, made this point strongly as he spoke recently to the second annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum on the Energy, Women and Children’s Health panel. Maurizio pointed out that Global Good, a collaborative effort between Bill Gates and IV to solve challenges in the developing world, works tirelessly not only to improve primary care and healthcare delivery, but also to enhance health technologies to run on low-resource or intermittent power.

Why is this important? Because energy will save lives. In just one minute, as Maurizio pointed out, 21 newborn children die around the world, in part because of a lack of access to oxygen. To help address this problem, Global Good is working to develop a more affordable oxygen concentrator that can run in low-resource areas to help more infants survive their first days.

The electricity issue is also drastically increasing rates of maternal mortality, particularly in cases of postpartum hemorrhaging. Postpartum hemorrhaging, the leading cause of maternal death, can usually be successfully treated with basic medication. But the medication requires refrigeration, and refrigeration in the developing world is typically powered by electricity. This is one of the many issues that Global Good’s passive storage device, Arktek™, addresses. Arktek can keep vaccines and drugs like oxytocin, medication often recommended to stop a hemorrhage, at the appropriate temperature for up to 35 days without power.

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News You Can Use: Building Useful, Usable Inventions

At Intellectual Ventures, we frequently discuss the importance of inventing for impact. But how do you know that an invention will actually solve the targeted problems for the people whose lives you’re looking to change? As previous interviewees, including Manan Shulka and David Bell, have discussed, the solution to a problem often takes a different direction than you first thought.

News You Can Use: Building Useful, Usable Inventions

This month on News You Can Use, we’re featuring stories on clearing this hurdle and the invention methods that refine raw ideas for impactful results.

Entrepreneur explains the importance of prototyping:  

Inventions start with ideas. But turning a good idea into a great invention can be challenging, and that’s where prototyping comes in. A strong prototype allows inventors to take the theoretical to reality. And a prototype almost always reveals areas where additional improvements can strengthen an invention. Entrepreneur featured this fantastic article that explains the various routes inventors can take to maximize their ideas through prototyping – and invent for the greatest impact.

Read the full story »

Fighting Malaria on Multiple Fronts

Despite available treatments, hundreds of thousands of people die each year from malaria. Though there are many factors at play, lack of access to affordable, accurate, and timely diagnostic tests play an undeniable role in the rate of mortality from this curable disease.

Fighting Malaria on Multiple Fronts

If you’ve been following IV Lab and Global Good, you likely know that we have been working on new disease diagnostics technologies for some time. In fact, Dr. David Bell noted that improving microscopy is one key area where IV Lab and Global Good are making a difference in the fight against malaria in his recent Behind the Breakthrough interview.

What is microscopy and how is it used to diagnose malaria?

Microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained blood slides – or microscopy – has generally been considered the gold standard in malaria diagnosis, and the World Health Organization’s 2014 World Malaria Report estimates that 197 million patients were tested with microscopy in 2013.

One challenge with using microscopy to diagnose malaria is training and supporting proficient microscopy technicians. The accuracy of microscopy tests relies heavily on the knowledge, level of skill, and judgment of the malaria technician, particularly in cases of early infection that might require greater sensitivity and skill.

How are Global Good and IV Lab addressing this challenge?

In short, we’re approaching the problem from multiple angles by:

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