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2009 Pizzigati Prize for Public Interest Computing Awarded to Darius Jazayeri
Date:4/28/2009

Developer Receives $10,000 Prize for Creation of Free Medical Record System Used by Health Clinics around the World

SAN FRANCISCO, April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The $10,000 Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest has been awarded to Darius Jazayeri, a 31-year-old software developer whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the public interest sector and ongoing efforts for positive social change. Darius Jazayeri will be awarded today for his creation of OpenMRS, at NTEN's 2009 Nonprofit Technology Conference. OpenMRS is an open source software application that health clinics and hospitals on five continents are now using to keep, share, and track medical record data. Resource-poor communities around the globe have seen significant improvements to their medical care due to the adoption of Jazayeri's application.

The Pizzigati Prize honors individuals who, in the spirit of open source computing, fashion exceptional applications that help nonprofits become more effective in their work to make the world a better place. Tides -- partner to forward-thinking philanthropists, foundations, activists and organizations -- hosts the prize selection process.

"Darius Jazayeri has shown a deep-seated personal commitment to the ideals behind the Pizzigati Prize," notes Diana Chavez, the Tides Foundation philanthropic associate who coordinates the prize competition. "His work dramatically demonstrates just how powerful an impact open source computing can have on people's daily lives and we are thrilled to announce that he is the third annual winner of the prize."

Jazayeri began work on OpenMRS four years ago as the lead software developer at Partners in Health, a Boston nonprofit that's working globally to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. Partners in Health, teaming up with the South African Medical Research Council and the Regenstrief Institute at the University of Indiana, aimed to create a free, flexible medical records system that health providers could adapt to their needs and operate without the help of expert programmers. With Jazayeri taking the lead, that vision for an easily accessible, user-friendly electronic medical record (EMR) system became a reality with OpenMRS.

"It is no exaggeration to say," observes Dr. Hamish Fraser of the South African Medical Research Council, "that OpenMRS is evolving into an 'international standard' for EMR systems in developing countries." OpenMRS can be run on anything from a large server to a laptop computer. Non-programmers can easily add new items to the system -- and find within it a suite of easy-to-use tools for data analysis and reporting."

For Jazayeri, the impact of OpenMRS on actual patient care has been incredibly gratifying. One hospital in Rwanda, the MIT grad notes, "was able to use OpenMRS to identify HIV-positive children who had not been picked up by the pediatric program and to get them on life-saving treatment." Another hospital in Haiti downloaded OpenMRS from the Web and, without a programmer on staff, configured the system for local use and now has entered over 600,000 patient records.

"Little of this would have been possible," Jazayeri emphasizes, "without an open source approach to the OpenMRS software's initial and ongoing development. OpenMRS has become a vibrant community of people implementing and using the system all over the world."

Health providers have even started using the system in the United States. As an open source alternative to proprietary -- and expensive -- commercial EMR systems, Pizzigati Prize judging panel member Barry Warsaw points out, OpenMRS "could profoundly advance our own efforts toward health care reform."

The deadline for next year's Pizzigati Prize will be February 1, 2010 and applications forms will be available later this year at www.pizzigatiprize.org.

The Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest is an annual award for open source software developers who add significant value to nonprofit sector. The Pizzigati Prize honors the brief life of Tony Pizzigati, an early advocate of open source computing. Born in 1971, Tony spent his college years at MIT, where he worked at the world-famous MIT Media Lab. Tony died in 1994, in an auto accident on his way to work in Silicon Valley. Tides (www.tides.org) hosts the Pizzigati Prize selection process. To learn more about the prize and its judging criteria, visit www.pizzigatiprize.org.


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