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Posts from the Global Good category

Photo Essay: Vaccine Access in Ethiopia’s Remote Danakil Desert

At Global Good, we draw on the power of invention to solve some of humanity’s toughest problems. Tonight, at Washington Global Health Alliance’s Pioneers of Global Health Awards Dinner, we’ll gather with other local development organizations to celebrate the tireless efforts of those in our own community who contribute to better health around the world. By inventing, developing and deploying commercially-viable technologies, we hope to advance their efforts.

Learn about one of these technologies and how it is helping a community in Ethiopia’s remote Danakil Desert to access vaccines. 

Last summer a team from Global Good returned to a remote health post in northeastern Ethiopia to observe how one of our products – the Arktek™ – is helping people in the region to access vaccines.           

Among others, the clinic serves a community of Afar nomadic herders.

Traditionally pastoralists, the Afar move from place to place in search of good grazing land for their goats, cattle and camels.

They primarily live in the Danakil Desert in northeast Ethiopia. Located hundreds of feet below sea level, the Danakil is one of the lowest and hottest places on earth. 

Many in the community we visited live in huts like the one pictured above.

The nearest hospital is a three-day walk away across a harsh and unforgiving landscape. The community’s only regular access to health care is this small rural clinic run by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health in partnership with UNICEF.

Read the full story »

Behind the Breakthrough: Manan Shukla on AI Shield

Last year, Behind the Breakthrough profiled Manan Shukla, an associate commercialization lead at Global Good who was born in a small village in India and raised and educated in the United States. Manan has traveled extensively in some of the most impoverished regions in the world, working with farmers to understand the problems they’re facing and what technologies could help. 

Behind the Breakthrough: Manan Shukla on AI Shield

Today, Manan shares an update about Global Good’s work on the Artificial Insemination Shield (AI Shield), challenges facing cattle and dairy farmers in the world’s poorest countries, and his hopes for the future. 

Why did Global Good prioritize developing artificial insemination technology for dairy and cattle farmers in the developing world?

Global Good focuses on problems in the world’s poorest countries that have potential for technological solutions. In 2014, our collaborator, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, identified that the growth of artificial insemination in low-income countries has been hampered by low conception rates. Since this problem fit squarely into Global Good’s mission – and because the ability to successfully breed cattle can have such a dramatic impact on farmers and families in the developing world – we started innovating technologies that could help address the problem.

What we came to realize was that the real issue was the ability for technicians to keep the semen cold. And in the artificial insemination world, there’s little room for error -  in many cases, 100% of sperm can die after one minute of exposure to the wrong temperatures. Even in a developed country like the United States, it’s estimated that handling issues, like the one I just described, account for a near 10 percent decrease in fertility. Of course, the problem is worse in the developing world—primarily because training is less rigorous—leading to devastating consequences for farmers and artificial insemination programs alike.

What we’ve developed in the AI Shield is a simple, proprietary cold chain solution that can reliably keep frozen bull semen at the proper temperature.

What’s next for AI Shield?

We’re really excited about Worthington Industries’ official launch of the AI Shield in Africa later this week at the African Dairy Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. At the conference, AI industry leaders will have the chance to learn about the technology and its benefits. Usually, the main buyers of AI equipment are governments who then provide them to AI technicians. It will be great to see the technology in the field in Africa impacting farmers’ lives.

Read the full story »

How Do You Keep Vaccines Cool? (Hint: Look to Space)

The Arktek™, developed by a team at Intellectual Ventures Laboratory, can store a month’s supply of vaccines for a village of 6,000 people in 100 degree plus heat, without electricity. What’s the secret? Vacuum thermal insulation technology – the same technology that has been used to protect spacecraft from temperature extremes while in space and upon re-entry. 

How Do You Keep Vaccines Cool? (Hint: Look to Space)

An Arktek device is transported by camel in Ethiopia (2013). Credit: Shahim Yassin, Afar Pastoralists Development Association

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a paper detailing their Ebola vaccine trials in Sierra Leone, including the important role that the Arktek DF has played in distributing the vaccine to rural regions lacking power.

In the midst of the worst known Ebola outbreak in 2014, the World Health Organization and the CDC requested cold chain vaccine storage support for an Ebola vaccine trial taking place in Sierra Leone and Guinea. These remote, low-resource settings presented numerous challenges that were exacerbated by the need to store the Ebola vaccine at much lower temperatures (-76 to -112 degrees Fahrenheit / -60 to -80 degrees Celsius).

Of course, as inventors, we rarely decline an opportunity to tinker with our own inventions, especially if it helps us better respond to evolving challenges on the ground.

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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.

Read the full story »

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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