Designing Shelters for Dignity

Designing Shelters for Dignity has recognized a huge problem for emergency housing: homeless shelters are harmful to health, perpetuate trauma, and are stigmatizing. They have taken up the task of renovating and revamping existing homeless shelters to foster a clean, safe, and inclusive environment. Given the proven impact of design on wellbeing and behavior, Designing Shelters for Dignity’s innovation will improve long-term outcomes for individuals battling homelessness.

NeoMotion AI

Stroke rehabilitation is often inaccessible, expensive, and requires a lot of scarce, highly trained professionals. By harnessing the processing power of smartphones in combination with recent advances in artificial intelligence, NeoMotion AI will be able to improve rehabilitation at a worldwide scale. NeoMotion AI is run on AI-based pose estimation algorithms and it optimizes them for usage on smartphones without internet connection. Using a smartphone camera and this software, the solution involves tracking the coordinates of every joint of the upper and lower limbs, proving patients, rehabilitation specialists, and physicians with a tool to track patient’s rehabilitation progress over time. At a later stage, performing rehabilitation exercises in front of a smartphone would allow patients to receive personalized exercise corrections or new and adaptive exercises suggestions. NeoMotion AI can provide an engaging rehabilitation experience for stroke patients through a social platform, creating a sense of community, and a more integrated management system for physical therapists or physicians. 


Even a patient monitored every 4 hours can undergo quick physiological changes (e.g. shock) that threaten their health because they are not detected fast enough. ChemCath is a sensor-embedded modification of a current catheter that will enable early identification of these deleterious events by continuously monitoring physiologic and chemical data without requiring blood draws. Leveraging recent advances in micro- and nano-science, ChemCath’s biosensors will quickly detect changes in pH to start, but future work will facilitate measurement of other important biomarkers such as sodium, potassium, and glucose. Though initially intended for hospital use, ChemCath will also pave the way for close at-home monitoring of patients on home health, preferentially benefiting the elderly, disabled, and those in rural communities who have more difficulty accessing healthcare facilities.


Serify - UCSF

The skyrocketing popularity of dating apps like Grindr, Tinder, and Jack’d has fueled recent increases in the transmission of HIV and other STDs. This has caused great concern among dating app users as well as heightened response by the public health community. While prevention efforts have been varied, recent strategies focus on dating app-facilitated dialogue about sexual health, widespread campaigning for HIV and STD testing, and targeted HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Yet as each approach has its drawbacks, the worry and risk of HIV/STD infection continue to grow. Our innovation, Serify, aims to reverse these trends. Developed through a fall 2016 interprofessional entrepreneurship course at UCSF, Serify allows dating app users to conveniently verify and share their negative HIV/STD test results. In this way, users can boost their sexual desirability and minimize their worry and risk of HIV/STD infection.

Tabla: Pneumonia Detection Device

In 2015, pneumonia was the leading cause of death in patients under the age of 5, claiming almost one million children worldwide. It has been reported by UNICEF that there is a need for access to a more affordable diagnostic method to reduce the number of deaths in populations with limited access to medical infrastructure. Tabla seeks to meet this need by providing an inexpensive method of diagnosing pneumonia. The device sends sound waves into the body using a surface exciter, records acoustic backscatter with a digital stethoscope, and analyzes the received signal in order to assess the presence of pneumonia. Tabla provides an order of magnitude improvement on portability, accessibility and cost over the current gold standard of chest x-ray, targeting patients in areas with limited access to advanced medical care. The device has IRB approval at UCSF and is currently being tested with adult and pediatric patients.

Ekialo Kiona Youth Radio Initiative


EKR is Africa’s first wind- and solar-powered radio station, reaching 200,000 listeners across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania within the first year of broadcasting. In 2014-15, the second full year of station operations, EKR intends to “scale-up” the programming by integrating interactive radio technology, starting a Creative Expression for Youth Initiative and expanding community engagement efforts. By scaling the youth-led platform to engage more listeners into EKR’s programming, OHR intends to have significant impact in communities along the shores of Lake Victoria. Among EKR’s goals are: 1.Provide youth with a pathway to sustainable employment; 2. Expand ICT services for secondary school youth; 3. Create networking opportunities for young people to build mentorships with ICT experts; 4. Slow the degradation of traditional knowledge by using radio broadcast and social media create dialogue about the Suba culture; 5. Inspire excitement of technological literacy and its links to creative expression through broadcasting student-produced audio projects across Lake Victoria.

Jacaranda Health: Postpartum Family Planning Development

Global Poverty Alleviation Winner, 2011-12

Jacaranda Health works to address safe motherhood in the underserved peri-urban areas of Nairobi, Kenya through a model that combines mobile health vans with high-quality local clinics. Jacaranda has launched their mobile health van system which provides antenatal and postnatal care and is looking forward to opening their first standing clinic in January 2012 which will provide labor and delivery care allowing for the much-needed continuity of care in these underserved areas. Jacaranda’s non-profit healthcare uses evidence-based standards of medicine, quality improvement methodology and is driven by feedback from clients.

We Are Suba! Ekialo Kiona Youth Radio Initiative

We Are Suba!

The Ekialo Kiona Community Radio is a youth-driven community radio station that will bring together local residents to design programming that will cut to the heart of the health crisis on Mfangano. EKR will be broadcasted from Ekialo Kiona Center in the Suba and Luo languages. EKR will be able to reach tens of thousands of Suba and Luo people within a 30-kilometer radius along the shores of Lake Victoria and will focus on issues affecting the immediate communities as opposed to messages coming from beyond Mfangano. EKR will facilitate community-driven programs aimed at raising health and nutrition awareness, mobilizing youth activism, improving social solidarity, promoting sustainable agriculture and fishing innovation, and they will preserve the endangered Suba language and cultural identity. Their goal is to give young people a chance to contribute their voices and solidify a sense of community for thousands of isolated people along the shores of Lake Victoria.

Shifting the Paradigm in Poverty Reduction: Applying the Teach For Health Framework in San Ramón, Nicaragua

Big Ideas Award Celebration, May 2012 Photo Credit: Blum Center
Big Ideas Award Celebration, May 2012
Photo Credit: Blum Center

Teach For Health, an NGO founded by UCSF and Berkeley students, won 1st place in the 2010 Global Poverty Alleviation category. The team proposed a model to catalyze cost-effective social change in rural, low-income villages in Nicaragua by training motivated community organizers, assisting local health promoters in Community Diagnosis and Action Planning (CDAP) and building local resource capacity. The team has expanded and strengthened the infrastructure, with 4 local staff, 69 active health promoters working in 21 communities conducting basic health-promotion activities and completing their own health-improvement projects. The team now plans to move to the next level of CDAP, which involves promoters facilitating a process in which their communities identify and prioritize their most pressing challenges, and develop and enact a plan to address specific challenges. To achieve this, the team will pilot the “Microgrant Empowerment Initiative”, providing a series of competitive, escalating grants with local matching for village-developed program proposals, in order to build local capacity for program planning and implementation, and lay the foundation for independent grant writing to implement community-driven projects.