U of S health researchers awarded Grand Challenges grants to tackle health problems in resource-poor countries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 29, 2013 SASKATOON - Four University of Saskatchewan health researchers have been awarded $100,000 each through Grand Challenges Canada to help make their innovations a reality to improve health, particularly in the developing world.

Anh Dinh and Khan Wahid from the College of Engineering are working on separate devices that will allow health professionals to gather crucial data for diagnosing heart disease and bowel disease in the field - including rural areas - and transmit it to specialists in larger centres.
Dinh is working on a low-cost, easy to use medical device which pre-diagnoses heart disease using portable sensors and a laptop computer. The device promises to deliver the same sort of echocardiogram, heart rate, and continuous blood pressure data available in doctors' offices at a fraction of the cost.
"The cost of a cardiogram is about $300, which is out of reach of people in developing countries," Dinh said. "Developing a low-cost device can extend the benefits of electrocardiograms to millions of people."
Wahid is working on an improved video endoscopy capsule to give doctors a clearer, more complete picture of illnesses such as Crohn's disease and colon cancer, ported right onto patients' smartphones.
"Doctors are not satisfied with the current image quality from endoscopy capsules. We are working to improve the technology in several ways, which will lead to more consistent, accurate diagnosis," Wahid said.
Nazeem Muhajarine, from the College of Medicine's Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, is developing MHealth. This service harnesses the power of cell phones - which are cheap and extremely common in Vietnam - to deliver essential health information via text messaging. This is especially valuable to migrant workers in that country, who live and work with little societal and institutional support.
"We provide tailored health information delivered directly into the hands of participants," Muhajarine said. "We back this up with GIS maps showing where they can go to find the health care they need."
Dr. Darryl Adamko, from the Department of Pediatrics, is developing a simple test based on molecules generated by the body in response to different lung diseases. Such ailments can be particularly dangerous, especially for children, in the developing world.
"We have a test that uses a simple urine sample that we think is applicable to a typical doctor's office setting," he said.
Funded by the Government of Canada, Grand Challenges Canada awards grants to individuals around the world that pursue bold new imaginative ideas to tackle health problems in in low and middle income countries and Canada. For more information, visit www.grandchallenges.ca.
For more information, contact:
Laura Herman
College of Medicine
(306) 966-6059
Share this story