BME Graduate Student Wins Prestigious Fellowship


By Mark Dwortzan

BME graduate student Darash Desai
BME graduate student Darash Desai

The U.S. Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention has selected BME graduate student Darash Desai as a USP Research Fellow, awarding him one of three $50,000 fellowships for the 2012-13 academic year.

The first College of Engineering student to receive this honor, Desai is the main developer of PharmaCheck, a low-cost, portable, robust, comprehensive diagnostic device that he and his PhD advisor, Associate Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME), are advancing to enable local health authorities to screen for substandard or counterfeit anti-malarials, antibiotics and other essential medicines. The need for such a device is particularly acute in the developing world, where counterfeit and substandard drugs are commonplace, leading to thousands of preventable deaths.

“We were thrilled to receive the award, which will go a long way in providing resources not only to complete development of the device, but also to leverage expertise in the area of counterfeit and substandard medicines screening,” said Desai, whose research involves a collaborative effort with the USP and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The award is a testament to the fact that there is a broader appeal and appreciation for this technology that is shared by not just people in development circles but also among the most prestigious pharmaceutical and pharmacopeial communities,” said Zaman.

Founded in 1820, the USP is a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality and purity of medicines, food ingredients and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide—standards enforceable in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration, and relied upon in more than 140 countries.