December 2013 Newsletter Article

Wayne State University Makes Strides On Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research In Global Health And Development

In 2012, Wayne State University was awarded two Grand Challenges Explorationsresearch grants, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, totaling nearly $200,000. Both research teams are pursuing innovative global health and development research projects.

Paul Kilgore, M.P.H., M.D.

Paul Kilgore, M.P.H., M.D.

One of the projects, “Mobile immunization tracking and management systems,” is an interdisciplinary collaborative effort by Paul Kilgore, M.P.H., M.D.,associate professor of pharmacy practice in WSU’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences and Weisong Shi, Ph.D., professor of computer science in WSU’s College of Engineering.

“Our project is a novel approach for creating a unique immunization record system using mobile software applications, cloud computing, bar-coding and wireless information technology,” said Kilgore. “This system will enable linking immunization information within local and national areas, and will be particularly useful in developing countries that lack real-time information on current vaccine supplies.”

To date, the team has been working to determine the desired system attributes as well as the needs of the end-users in developing countries. In addition, they have determined the hardware requirements needed to support a robust and sustainable immunization tracking system, and have incorporated these into the overall integrated system design.

In a short amount of time, the team has developed and tested software program code that allows for communication between computer-linked hardware as well as allow for entry of immunization information in a tablet-based platform. The end result; The team has developed a prototype system and is now prepared for beta testing.

Shi-Weisong-WSU_sq-150x150

Weisong Shi, Ph.D.

“With the help of this funding from the Gates Foundation for Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE), Dr. Shi and I have been able to work on an innovative approach to one of the world’s toughest and persistent global health and development challenges – immunization,” said Kilgore. “GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve the problems people in the developing world face every day.  Our project is one of two awarded to Wayne State out of over 80 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9 grants awarded last year by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

“Wayne State’s projects seek to help areas of the world where our research ideas can make an impact on lives,” said Hilary Ratner, vice president for research at Wayne State University. “We are pleased to work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to foster innovative ideas to overcome health challenges through proper treatment and availability of appropriate vaccines and medicines. Our projects have significant potential to help others.”