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Undergraduates' low-cost ultrasound system wins Gates Foundation grant
Date:11/9/2010

A team of University of Washington undergraduate students was among 65 research groups that today learned they had won one of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grants.

This is the fifth round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. To receive funding, applicants show in a two-page application how their idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health.

Grantees, chosen from more than 2,400 proposals, represent 16 countries on five continents.

"I am a huge believer in the creativity of undergraduates," said faculty adviser Beth Kolko, a UW professor of human centered design and engineering. "This grant really validates that belief."

The UW students and faculty are testing a low-cost ultrasound system this month on pregnant women at the UW Medical Center and Harborview. They will use the grant to travel to Africa to test their system in its ultimate capacity as a tool to increase access to ultrasound and lower childbirth-related mortality, which kills an estimated 1,000 women each day, almost entirely in the developing world.

The UW device consists of an ultrasound probe that connects via a USB port to a netbook with a touch-sensitive screen. It is designed to be cheap, portable, durable and easy to use.

Receiving the Gates Foundation grant "was very relieving," said team member Wayne Gerard, a senior in computer engineering. "We were not sure where we were going to get funding to travel to Uganda. We're also very honored to have such a great foundation backing us, but mostly it is great to know that we have some funds to test our device."

Right now students estimate their whole system, including the free software, costs about $3,500. The most expensive part is the roughly $3,000 ultrasound probe,
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Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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