Solutions Inspired Through Dialogue
Our mission is to combine medical, scientific and technology skill-sets to discover new approaches to combat infectious disease outbreaks. We do this by listening to both patients and their healthcare providers to better prioritize problems and reveal unanticipated durable solutions.
We chose cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh and Haiti as a model system for several reasons: (i) proof of principle against a pathogen like Vibrio cholerae that kills swiftly and inflicts disproportionate harm on the extreme poor will have broad impact; (ii) cholera can be clinically diagnosed and prompt administration of low cost oral rehydration solution can drop deaths from 20 percent to less than 1 percent; and (iii) despite limited historical success, new tools and opportunities are coming together that inspire optimism for effective and rapid outbreak control in the future. To help craft these new tools we partner with international teams to critically evaluate current clinical methods, develop new methods that address old weaknesses, and design better vehicles to deliver these tools to providers.
We face the challenge that on a daily basis patients present to remote hospitals with primary infections that are impacted by complex secondary host, microbial, and environmental factors. Methods to reproduce these factors in the laboratory, or effectively study them in the field, are lacking. These problems are critical barriers to make evidence-based clinical decisions and to conduct high-impact translational research, especially during outbreak response. We have partnerships and laboratory capacity in Bangladesh, Africa and Haiti to build bi-directional capacity to address these basic science challenges.
Technology tested in developed countries often fail in remote settings that are commonly struck by outbreaks. We have developed a platform called Outbreak Responder that accommodates for several limitations of existing tools, including mapping in locations with no addresses, registration of patients that have shared or unstructured names and also lack a national ID number, and offline team-based data collection.