Gates grant to fund mobile phone-based detection tool for newborn jaundice

Chetan A. Patil

A research assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to test the ability of an adapted mobile phone to diagnose jaundice in newborns in developing countries.

The foundation announced May 9 the recipients of more than 100 new grants to support proposals that have the potential to improve health in the developing world.

Chetan A. Patil’s proposal, Low-Cost Mobile Phone-Based Detection of Neonatal Jaundice, won funding under one of six Grand Challenges Explorations topics: Explore New Solutions in Global Health Priority Areas.

Patil will develop a technique to adapt a mobile phone platform to perform measurements of bilirubin to accurately identify jaundiced newborns. By using the phone’s camera and simple applications to detect levels of bilirubin through the skin, a diagnosis can be made so that treatment as simple as increased exposure to sunlight can begin. Patil will test the flash and detector response of phones commonly available in the developing countries.

The grants will be made to investigators from 19 countries and six continents and mark the eighth round of funding from the eighth round of the foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative that seeks to help lower the barriers for testing innovative ideas in global health and development.