Global Health Device Innovation

2020 ~ Present

Goals

To address the unique clinical needs of resource-limited environments through the development of equipment and apps that support (and can be maintained by) local hospitals. A key design constraint will be the use of equipment and technologies that can be maintained and repaired by the hospitals that use them.This includes using locally sourced equipment and developing apps that can run on locally available smart phones and devices (Android). 

For the clinical environment in Ethiopia, current projects focus on improving infant survival. For the clinical environment in Haiti, current projects focus on improving the surgical ecosystem and pathology workflow. 

This VIP team is split into four projects; below you will find the particulars for each:

NICU Mobile Baby Warmer

The goal of the project is to develop and implement a warming device to prevent hypothermia for premature infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Ethiopia and other low/middle income countries. The project involves improvement of an existing prototype, concept generation and development of new devices, benchtop testing, execution of clinical studies, and ultimately transfer of device to in-country collaborators.

Fetal Heart Monitor

The goal of the project is to develop and implement a fetal heart monitoring device specifically for the healthcare environment in Ethiopia and other low/middle income countries. The device will alert physicians of possible complications during labor to reduce the staggering infant mortality rate in Ethiopia. The project involves improvement of an existing prototype, concept generation and development of new devices, benchtop testing, execution of clinical studies, and ultimately transfer of device to in-country collaborators.

General Surgery

The goal of the project is to develop novel tools to improve the surgical ecosystem or methods for point-of-care pathology. The project is in partnership with the Emory Haiti Alliance, which encompasses Emory faculty from anesthesiology, general surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and urology; medical students; surgery residents; and mid-level practitioners. Each year, the Emory team travels to Pignon, Haiti to offer free medical attention and operations to patients alongside Haitian physicians. Many clinical needs have been identified across medical specialties that require development of novel medical devices specific to the Haitian clinical environment. The project involves concept generation and development of new devices, benchtop testing, execution of clinical studies, and ultimately transfer of device to in-country collaborators.

Elimination of Morbidity of Soil-Transmitted Helminth (STH)

The goal of the project is to develop technologies to improve the sample collection, identification, preparation, and diagnostics of intestinal worms (also known as soil transmitted helminths or STH). Intestinal worms negatively affect the nutrition and development of children and pregnant women, and are estimated to infect over a billion people worldwide. Fortunately, intestinal worm infections are preventable and treatable. In order to target programmatic effort and donated medicine to those who are still infected with STH, and not give medicine to people who are not infected, quality diagnostics are required and current methods are time-consuming, expensive, unpleasant, and not ideal for high throughput, rapid diagnosis. This seemingly straightforward challenge is remarkably complex. It will require multiple high-capacity people to solve. If you can make this work, it could literally touch the lives of a billion people and change the STH world as we know it today. The project is in partnership with the Task Force for Global Health and the Children Without Worms initiative.

Issues Involved or Addressed

NICU Mobile Baby Warmer

Each year, roughly 300,000 infants are born prematurely in Ethiopia. Eighty percent of these preterm infants will become hypothermic, and 55% of those infants will still be hypothermic after 24 hours, which is a common cause of infant mortality. Neonatologists report the biggest risk setting for hypothermia in Ethiopian hospitals to be during transportation in the hospital, such as from the delivery room to the NICU and from the NICU to the operating room. This project seeks to develop a cost effective, reliable, safe, and feasible transportable warming device that can fit into the clinical landscape of low/middle income countries.

Fetal Heart Monitor

Fetal heart monitoring (FHM) is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the best practice in reducing infant and maternal mortality rates. Ethiopia, specifically, experiences 9,000 births daily and the population of 108 million is growing at a rate of 3.02% per years, 2 times the global growth rate average. The nation has an infant mortality rate of roughly 5%, or 49.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, a rate 10 times the average in the United States. Current fetal heart monitors fail to meet the durability and workflow demands of Ethiopian hospitals. This project aims to create a sustainable fetal monitoring solution for Ethiopia that fills the gaps left by existing fetal monitors.

General Surgery

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than half of the population live on less than $0.5 per day and lack electricity, 41 percent occupy a home without running water, and only two out of 10 homes has access to a latrine. In 2007, a group of Emory University physicians conducted a medical needs analysis in Hinche, a small town located in Haiti's Central Plateau, and found a striking prevalence of general surgical and urological conditions that are typically diagnosed and treated long before they become a problem in countries like the United States. Thus, this project seeks to develop critically needed surgical tools and methods for point-of-care pathology to improve surgical outcomes and diagnostics in Haiti.

Elimination of Morbidity of Soil-Transmitted Helminth (STH)

Intestinal worms negatively affect the nutrition and development of children and pregnant women, and are estimated to infect over a billion people worldwide. Every year several hundred million people around the world are offered deworming medicine to control the effects of intestinal worms. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers STH a public health problem in areas where >2% of the at-risk population has moderate-to-high intensity infection – as measured by the number of eggs per gram of stool and diagnosed by microscopic examination of stool. Fortunately, intestinal worm infections are preventable and treatable. STH control requires the delivery of one or more interventions, such as drug treatment, sanitation provision and personal hygiene promotion. The programs have been successful in reducing the global worm burden and intestinal worms are no longer ubiquitous in the tropics. In order to target programmatic effort and donated medicine to those who are still infected with STH, and not give medicine to people who are not infected, quality diagnostics are required. To diagnose intestinal worms (also known as soil transmitted helminths or STH) a known quantity of stool is examined microscopically for the presence of worm eggs using a technique known as Kato-Katz that was first popularized over 50 years ago. Managing the collection of stool samples from a population-based survey, preparing the microscope slides for examination, and reading the slides with the naked eye is time-consuming, expensive, and moderately unpleasant. The world would benefit from an automated system in which stool samples can be accurately machine read and scarce program resources can be directed to those populations still at risk of sickness from worms, and redirected away from those who do not need it.

Methods and Technologies

  • Medical device design
  • Product development
  • App development
  • Circuits
  • MacGyver engineering
  • Regulatory landscape
  • Transfer to manufacturing package
  • Experience in clinical studies

Academic Majors of Interest

  • Computer Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Chemistry

Preferred Interests and Preparation

Background/interest in medical device design, product development, and engineeering for global health needs is desired. 

Please indicate your subteam preference in the commment section of your application (fetal heart monitor, NICU incubator, general surgery, elimination of morbidity of STH, or any)

Meeting Schedule & Location

Time 
8:25-9:15
Meeting Location 
Whitaker, Room 0260, BME Capstone Design Lab
Meeting Day 
Friday

Team Advisors

James Stubbs
  • Biomedical Engineering
Kelsey Kubelick
  • Biomedical Engineering