Gates Foundation awards more than $11 million for medical technology

Gates Foundation awards more than $11 million for medical technology

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded grants totaling $11.05 million to Caption HealthDuke University, and Hyperfine in support of efforts to advance medical and sanitation technology.

The awards include a grant of $4.95 million to Caption Health, which is working to develop AI-guided lung ultrasound technology for rapid and accurate diagnosis of pneumonia — the leading killer globally of children under the age of 5 —  pulmonary edema, pleural effusions, and pneumothorax in resource-limited settings with a shortage of highly-trained physicians. The company's non-invasive, portable lung ultrasound technology enables clinicians without specialized training to acquire and interpret diagnostic-quality ultrasound images without exposing patients to harmful radiation. 

In addition, the foundation awarded a grant of $4.5 million to the Duke University Center for Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Infectious Disease for the field-testing of "reinvented" toilets and other sanitation technologies in India. To that end, Duke researchers, in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology and local government stakeholders, will use the grant to support the efforts of the India Engineering Field Testing project to deliver effective field testing and provide rigorous technical evaluation of multiple sanitation technologies.

And the foundation awarded a grant of $1.6 million to Hyperfine, a Connecticut-based company working to put magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) within reach of every patient regardless of location, to investigate whether portable MR imaging technology in low-resource countries can help identify and potentially mitigate labor- and delivery-related brain damage resulting in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) in live births. Caused by birth asphyxia (limited blood flow to the brain), HIE is estimated to affect about 1.5 births per thousand live births globally.

"Ultrasound can be challenging for clinicians without prior experience because it requires skill in both obtaining and interpreting images. Caption Health is the leader in developing artificial intelligence that combines image acquisition and interpretation to enable clinicians to perform ultrasound regardless of skill level," said Chris Moore, associate professor of emergency medicine, chief of the Emergency Ultrasound section, and director of the Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship at Yale School of Medicine. "Expanding this AI to lung ultrasound and putting it in the hands of clinicians could have profound implications for the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia, a leading cause of death in our youngest global citizens, as well as for COVID-19 and other lung conditions."

"Field testing is a critical step in developing these new technologies," said Sonia Grego, an associate research professor in Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, "since they provide us with data on the performance and robustness of prototypes under realistic use conditions."