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Tropical Medicine Global Health Seminar presented by Erin Coonahan, in conjunction with www.wwarn.org on 22nd September 2016, University of Oxford. See also WWARN's space on The Global Health network by clicking here.
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The goal of this research is to develop a low-cost, field-based test to detect several slow-clearing ACT drug compounds from unprocessed fingerstick blood samples. The test will detect drugs through the binding of target-specific aptamers or antibodies and provide a colorimetric readout of drug levels. The ability to detect small molecule antimalarial drugs in a patient’s blood at point-of-care would enable healthcare workers to identify a previous treatment failure and adjust the patient’s new treatment to improve its efficacy and thus reduce the spread of resistant parasites. A simple assay to detect these drugs in patient samples would also facilitate real-time mapping of drug usage and compliance.
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Erin graduated with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Tufts University in 2012. She received high thesis honors for her senior thesis on wound healing and tissue regeneration through the application of external electric fields. She worked in the lab of Dr. David Kaplan on properties of silk protein as a biomaterial and its ability to aid in the mammalian wound healing process. While at Tufts she helped lead a water quality project in rural Uganda through Engineers Without Borders and spent a semester abroad studying the public healthcare system in Chile.
Since graduation she worked at a start-up on silk-based sustained release drug formulations and most recently at Diagnostics For All, a biotech non-profit developing low-cost diagnostic tests for resource-limited settings. In 2014 she was awarded a Whitaker International Fellowship and spent six months working with Engineering World Health to organize a locally sustainable program to train hospital technicians in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
As an NIH OxCam scholar and throughout her career she hopes to develop affordable and effective tools for disease monitoring and diagnosis in low-resource settings. She has become passionate about the challenges associated with designing appropriate healthcare technology for the developing world and increasing emphasis on end-user input and participation in the design of healthcare technology.