Zaman Receives "Saving Lives at Birth" Grant

Funding to Advance Counterfeit and Substandard Drug Detection Device

By Mark Dwortzan

The Saving Lives at Birth event drew hundreds of attendees, including Melinda Gates (center), who appeared at the innovation awards ceremony and visited four posters, including Professor Muhammad Zaman's (BME) (left).
The Saving Lives at Birth event drew hundreds of attendees, including Melinda Gates (center), who appeared at the innovation awards ceremony and visited four posters, including Professor Muhammad Zaman's (BME) (left).

Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development, a program launched in 2011 to stimulate innovative preventative and treatment methods to improve health outcomes for mothers and newborns around the time of delivery, has named Associate Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME) as one of 12 recipients of a two-year, $250,000 innovation seed grant. The grant will enable Zaman to develop his project, PharmaCheck: Counterfeit and Substandard Drug Detector Device for the Developing World, and qualify for an additional $2 million to demonstrate its impact at scale.

The first BU project to be honored by the Saving Lives at Birth program, PharmaCheck was chosen from more than 500 proposals from 60 countries.

Zaman represented the project at the program’s second annual DevelopmentXChange, held at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle in mid-July. Culminating in an awards ceremony, the three-day event provided 65 finalists in the 2012 competition to display their ideas—through interview, poster and elevator pitch sessions—before other development experts, innovators and potential funders.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have been selected as an awardee for the Saving Lives at Birth grant and grateful to [BME graduate student] Darash Desai for his vision, incredible talent and boundless energy as the main developer of the technology,” said Zaman. “This award allows us to develop our technology further and take it to the field, and to connect and collaborate with leading innovators in maternal and child health.”

The main objective of the PharmaCheck project is to develop a user-friendly, low-cost, high-throughput, accurate device that local health authorities can use to screen for substandard anti-malarials and antibiotics, thereby improving adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes with respect to malaria and sepsis. The need for such a device is particularly acute in the developing world, where the prevalence of these diseases is high and counterfeit and substandard drugs are commonplace.

“Counterfeit, substandard and inactive drugs are among one of the biggest challenges in global health, and our inability to detect these drugs in the field seriously hampers our ability to provide effective care to the most vulnerable mothers and babies,” said Zaman. “Pharmacheck will provide a comprehensive, affordable and context-specific solution that will help save countless lives in resource-limited settings.”

The 12 award-winning innovation projects addressed medical concerns such as treatment for newborn jaundice and low-cost, high-quality postnatal services; funded organizations ranged from a chain of maternity health clinics in Kenya to Oxford University.

Saving Lives at Birth is a partnership among USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development.

 

Related Link: BU Today article

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