Published: 05/18/2021

Originally published on the Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge website.

BAY AREA, May 2021 — At the virtual Final Pitch event of the 2021 Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge on May 1, 2021, 16 finalist teams from over 30 universities around the world gathered to pitch their ideas for low-cost, high-impact, and scalable global health solutions to a panel of high-level judges. We congratulate Team SILO of Duke University for winning the HealthRoots Foundation for Global Health grand prize of $10,000 and an opportunity to appear as guests on the Shot in the Arm podcast, hosted by Ben Plumley. 

SILO is composed of undergraduate students from Duke University: Arushi Biswas, Caroline Salzman, Patrick Wilson, Nolan Burroughs, and Muthukurisil Arivoli. These students are working closely with surgical and engineering faculty members from Duke University and Makerere University in Uganda. Their innovation is a novel, low-cost “silo” to treat gastroschisis, a birth defect in which an infant’s intestines protrude through an opening near its navel. The silo protects the exposed intestines until they can be returned to the abdominal cavity through medical treatment. This is an unmet challenge in many low and middle-income countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Produced from locally available materials (such as female condom rings and unused urine collection bags), physicians expect the silo to improve newborn survival rate from 2-5% to an estimated 50% during an upcoming clinical evaluation in Uganda.

The Challenge also crowned two runner-up teams, Omena and Simply Sickle, who each were awarded $5,000, thanks to the generosity of Innovation Challenge judges Coleman Fung (CEO/Co-founder, Blue Goji, LLC. & Chair, Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership at UC Berkeley) and Pam Scott (Founder and Design Thinker, The Curious Company). One of the finalist teams, Hera, was also offered personal mentorship by Mary-Ann Etiebet, Associate Vice President for Health Equity at Merck and Lead for Merck for Mothers.

Omena, one of the two runner-up teams, is founded and managed by undergraduate Francesca Raoelison from Brown University. Omena is a nonprofit organization that seeks to break the cycle of emotional abuse within families and communities through support, education, and advocacy. Omena aims to empower children and young adults with the social and emotional intelligence tools to nurture a generation with greater self-esteem and inner strength. Simply Sickle, the other runner-up team, is led by a medical student, recent Ph.D. graduate/current postdoctoral research fellow, and an undergraduate student from Stanford, Purdue, and Vanderbilt Universities, respectively: Kevin Cyr, Orlando Hoilett, and Sophia (Phia) Pannullo. The team’s product is a simple point-of-care test to rapidly diagnose and manage patients with sickle cell disease in low and middle-income countries. Their innovation focuses on last-mile healthcare delivery for those looking to screen and manage sickle cell disease in high-burden regions. 

In the weeks leading up to the event, the finalist teams of student social-entrepreneurs participated in a series of virtual workshops, webinars, and mentoring sessions in preparation for the Final Pitch. The winners were selected in early rounds by many leaders from the Bay Area Global Health ecosystem. The final pitch was judged by a panel of leading global health investors, philanthropists, global health and technology experts, including: 

  • Steve Davis, Senior Strategy Advisor & Interim Director, China Country Office, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Eric J. Grigsby, President and CEO, Neurovations & Chief Medical Officer, Alfred E. Mann Foundation
  • Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead and Executive Director, Merck for Mothers
  • David Rhew, Global Chief Medical Officer & VP of Healthcare, Microsoft
  • Coleman Fung, CEO/Co-Founder, Blue Goji LLC & Chair, Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership at UC Berkeley
  • Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Director of Technology Impact,
  • Jeffrey P. Koplan, Vice President for Global Health, Emory Global Health Institute & Former Director, C.D.C
  • Pam Scott, Founder and Design Thinker, the Curious Company
  • Nuntavarn Vichit-Vadakan, Founding Dean of the Faculty of Public Health, Thammasat University in Thailand
  • Mike Eisenstein, Director of Product Development, Equalize Health

The Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge is a competition hosted by the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health in partnership with the Bay Area Global Health Alliance, UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences, UC Davis, and the HealthRoots Foundation for Global Health.