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A portable life-saving device

During an infant’s first week of life, infectious diseases pose a great danger. Accurate diagnosis of an infection can take days, but in low-income countries like Kenya it may not even be possible to get sick baby to a hospital for examination.

Jacqueline Linnes, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, proposes a solution to this critical public health issue: a mobile point-of-care molecular diagnostic device that lets an untrained observer quickly spot deadly pathogens in a newborn.

Her plan is just one of the global projects taken on by Purdue’s new Innovation for International Development (I2D) Lab, which offers seed grants for creative engineering efforts that seek to overcome major problems for struggling populations around the world. These seed grants kick-start projects that are likely to win subsequent funding from philanthropic agencies, have a chance for commercialization, and combine creative engineering with entrepreneurship.

“We want to help detect sepsis in infants who are born outside a hospital and don’t have access to hospital care but can be rushed in if really needed,” Linnes says.