HOUSTON, Texas – The Rice 360° Institute for Global Health Technologies focuses on developing affordable health technologies, increasing access to those technologies, and educating students to continue the mission of improving health in the developing world. So far Rice 360°’s innovative technologies have benefitted 45,000 people in 24 developing countries, including Malawi, Swaziland, Botswana, Ecuador, Honduras, Haiti and Mexico.
Faculty, students, clinicians, and public and private sector partners collaborate to design affordable health technologies to address the needs of vulnerable communities. Rice 360° takes into account the lack of reliable electrical power, clean water, and supplies to design effective technologies that can be sustained in a low-resource setting. With strengths in bioengineering, nanotechnology, and translational research, Rice 360° develops point-of-care diagnostic technologies and point-of-use water purification systems, as well as technologies to advance maternal and neonatal health.
Rice 360° is home to the Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB) program, the country’s leading undergraduate program in global health technology. The program, launched in 2006, offers students the opportunity to minor in global health technologies (GLHT) through the BTB initiative. To successfully achieve a GLHT minor, students must concurrently complete coursework and contribute to the design of technologies that meet the needs discovered by clinicians working in the developing world. A number of impressive solutions have been designed by BTB students to date including:
- The BabaLung Apnea Monitor, an automated sensor able to detect breathing arrest in infants during sleep and stimulate the return of normal breathing.
- The Bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (bCPAP) device, treats newborn children in respiratory compromise by preventing upper airway collapse and improving oxygenation.
- The Diagnostic Lab-in-a-Backpack provides necessary solar-chargeable equipment for physicians in rural developing areas to properly diagnose the cause of patients’ symptoms.
- The DoseRight Syringe Clip locks into the barrel of a standard oral syringe to prevent the mis-dosage that sometimes results from illiteracy, visual imparities, or a lack of manual dexterity.
- The Dremofuge is an innovation of the standard centrifuge; a device that spins sample tubes for scientific analysis and diagnosis. It is a battery-powered centrifuge able to supply centrifuge technology to low-resource settings.
- The Hand Powered Centrifuge utilizes a salad spinner, hair combs, and a round plastic container to prepare up to 30 blood samples at once without the use of electricity.
- The Global Focus Microscope is a portable, battery-operated, inverted bright field and fluorescence microscope with up to 1000x magnification designed to detect tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries.
- Health Surveillance Assistant and Community Midwife Packs provide rural communities access to a comprehensive health outreach toolkit and prenatal care.
- HemoSpec is an affordable, portable device able to safely assess hemoglobin levels for proper anemia diagnosis.
- PortaBoard, a portable measuring device able to monitor stunting and malnutrition in children, is comprised of a yoga mat, wood planks, PVC pipe and two plastic knobs.
- Invertabottle Morphine Dosing works with the oral dosing syringe and DoseRight Syringe Cliip to ensure the correct dosage is administered to patients, preventing major health complications caused by over-dosing.
- The IV Fluid Volume Regulator prevents child death due to dehydration in the developing world by automatically controlling the amount of fluids administered.
- LiquiDose Morphine Dosing is an affordable dosing device used in Saint Gabriel’s Hospital’s home-based palliative care program in Malawi.
- The NeoSyp Syringe Pump administers IV medication cost-effectively without the use of electrical power to babies, pregnant women, and adults in the developing world.
- The Palliative Patient Records System is an electronic medical records system tailored to the needs of palliative or hospice care providers in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Phototherapy Lights are low-cost, LED-based phototherapy lights able to treat jaundice without giving off excess heat. They can be built for less than $100.
- The SAPHE pad absorbs post-natal blood loss. The grid pattern enables doctors to easily determine the volume of blood loss, which can dictate a patient’s transfer to a higher-level facility.
In the first six years of the BTB program’s existence, 58 affordable health technologies were designed and produced. Science magazine has awarded a Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction (IBI) to Rice University in recognition of the efforts and accomplishments of its BTB program, and the university’s hands-on approach to learning.
Beyond Traditional Borders at Rice 360° eliminates the idea that students may be learning skills that they will not use outside of the classroom because during their undergraduate career they are able to see the design and distribution of actual devices they personally helped design. Students of the program graduate with a minor in Global Health Technologies and experience that will play a critical role in their job search as well as their personal satisfaction of knowing that they improved the health and medical treatment of millions of patients in the developing world through Rice 360°’s Beyond Traditional Borders program.
– Dana Johnson
Source: Rice 360, Rice.edu Bioengineering
Photo: Clinton Foundation