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Posts from the Global Good category

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.

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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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Deep Freeze Arktek Noted in PBS NewsHour Ebola Series

IV’s latest passive vaccine storage device, or Arktek™, as it’s now known, has had a big year so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control tagged the Arktek to help make Ebola vaccine trials in Sierra Leone and Guinea possible.

In the PBS NewsHour segment, “Why testing an Ebola vaccine isn’t so easy,” science correspondent Miles O'Brian reports on the challenges of conducting experimental drug trials in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Deep Freeze Arktek is noted at the 1:30 mark of the video below.

The Arktek is allowing researchers on the ground in Africa to determine the efficacy of Ebola vaccine candidates. An important requirement in keeping the Ebola vaccine effective throughout the trials is keeping the vaccines at appropriate temperatures until being thawed for injection. And these vaccines require unusually low temperatures during storage, transportation, and distribution.

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Behind the Breakthrough: Manan Shukla

This week’s Behind the Breakthrough profiles Manan Shukla, an associate commercialization lead at Global Good. Manan was born in a small village in India and was raised and educated in the United States. He draws on his early years in India as he travels throughout Africa to speak with farmers and improve the products designed for them.

Behind the Breakthrough: Manan Shukla

Prior to Intellectual Ventures, Manan worked as a management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington DC, San Diego, and Hawaii. His background in finance and business helps him to look at the viability of the IV Lab’s inventions on a global scale. He finds it gratifying to distribute the next breakthrough to those who need it most.

Here are some of his reflections:

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Behind the Breakthrough: Dr. David Bell

This week’s Behind the Breakthrough profiles Dr. David Bell, IV’s Portfolio Lead in Global Health Technology. Dr. Bell is a public health physician with global experience. Born and educated in Australia, he has worked at various organizations in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Europe, including the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. His research experience and interest in technology development gives him a unique understanding of potential solutions for the most pressing public health challenges.  

Behind the Breakthrough: Dr. David Bell

Here are some of his reflections:

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A World Free of Malaria?

Medical texts from as early as 2700 B.C. include descriptions of malaria—a disease caused by wily parasites transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Scientists, inventors—even soldiers—have spent centuries searching for remedies and preventions against the disease that today affects nearly 200 million people annually, and is the leading cause of child mortality in the developing world. 

A World Free of Malaria?

Bed nets, antimalarial drugs, and insecticides have all helped to reduce the number of malaria cases, but no one approach has solved the problem. Scroll through some of the malaria interventions used throughout history:

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Staff Spotlight: Shannon Kuyper

Today we’re highlighting Shannon Kuyper, a research program manager at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory. Shannon’s science roots combined with her business training gives her a unique perspective on the shared challenges and opportunities for many of the lab’s projects.    

Staff Spotlight: Shannon Kuyper

In her spare time, Shannon competes in Olympic weightlifting competitions around the country. If you’d like to learn more about Shannon and her work at the lab, check out the lab’s original interview.

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Ebola’s Grim Reminder

Last summer, I watched with the same horror many felt as reports from West Africa emerged of Ebola’s deadly toll. The virus has devastated families, wreaked havoc on health systems and savaged economies. But to be frank, I’m much more worried that next time – and there will be a next time – it will be far worse.

Ebola’s Grim Reminder

Today, Bill Gates makes the case at both TED and in the New England Journal of Medicine that if Ebola has taught us anything, it is how dangerously unprepared we are to deal with a global epidemic. As he so aptly describes the world’s response to Ebola in the New York Times, “The problem isn’t so much that the system didn’t work well enough. The problem is that we hardly have a system at all.”

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