Students Innovate on Ebola

Recently, CASE – along with partners from SEAD, Duke I&E, DGHI, IPIHD, DIHI, & Sanford – launched a challenge to bring together interdisciplinary teams of students and expert judges around a critical real world problem: Ebola.

2014 has brought on the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The disease is causing widespread fear and disruption and, as parts of West Africa are being ravaged by the Ebola epidemic, stakeholders around the world are attempting to identify the most effective ways to address the spread of disease.

The Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge offered our students an opportunity to use the skills they are learning here at Duke to generate ideas and use their knowledge in service of society. We were overwhelmed by the response from students:

  • More than 160 students registered from across Duke including Trinity, DGHI, Fuqua, Pratt, School of Nursing, Sanford, and Medicine.
  • 120+ people attended a kickoff event held at Fuqua where Dr. Cameron Wolfe provided an overview of the Ebola crisis.  We then followed up with multiple workshops to provide the students more context – experts from Duke’s Biological Safety Division, IntraHealth International, Duke Institute for Health Innovation, ClickMedix, and others spoke with the students on a variety of topics.
  • 22 teams of students submitted entries (after less than a week to learn and brainstorm solutions!).
  • An expert panel of judges provided feedback and selected the winner.

After a difficult deliberation, we selected five teams to present in the finals:

  • Pulse Point Cooling: use of pulse point cooling pads to efficiently cool body in PPE and allow for person to be suited up for longer period of time.
  • Project SOS: Skills Optimization for Survivors of Ebola: Increased use of survivors as low-skilled caregivers for patients, given their immunity for period of time after recovering from disease.
  • PROS: PPE, Removal, Optimization, Simulation: Focused on training for use of PPE, and using glow in the dark paint to demonstrate contamination in an effective way.
  • ONE-TIME: A culturally adept solution to Ebola surveillance in West Africa that uses mobile technology to track Ebola outbreaks and ensure patients get early care to increase survival rates.
  • Ebola Patient Kits: Creating kits for patients that would contain the critical supplies needed to care for a patient to ensure adequate supply, ease of use, easier engagement of lower-skilled workers, etc.

Team25 Judges2 for blog

In the end, the winning team was the “Ebola Patient Kits” which included 3 of our Fuqua students (Rupa Bhojraj, Kaitlin Carr, and Heather Langerman) as well as Julia Messina from Medicine, Junwen Zhang from Pratt, and Jessica Gordon from Sanford. Congratulations to the team!

The challenge was a fantastic experience for our students and truly showed the innovative thinking, enthusiasm and skills that our students can bring to bear on some of the world’s most complex and challenge social problems.  We hope that this challenge has inspired the students to continue to use their skills in service of society at Duke and beyond.

To learn more about the Challenge, watch this brief video recap and read some of the media coverage below:

Participants in the Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge were encouraged to submit their ideas to the OpenIDEO Fighting Ebola Challenge.  Which is part of a broader response by USAID and partners through the Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development. The OpenIDEO platform is the first part of this initiative, where the global community can collaborate and brainstorm actionable solutions to the Ebola epidemic. The second part is that strong ideas may be encouraged to apply for funding in subsequent components of the Grand Challenge for Development by USAID and partners.

The Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge was sponsored by the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (I&E), the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IPIHD), the Duke Institute for Healthcare Innovation (DIHI), and the Sanford School of Public Policy (Sanford).