Population Health

July 5, 2022

Initiative co-funds three Innovation Gap Fund projects with CoMotion

Image of an infant restingThe University of Washington Population Health Initiative has again partnered with CoMotion to co-fund three Innovation Gap Funds of $50,000 each. This $150,000 in funding will support projects that simultaneously support the UW’s vision for improving population health while also fulfilling the CoMotion Innovation Fund’s goal of enabling research that will achieve sustainable commercial or social impact.

The first of the projects, pHastCam, led by Krystle Perez of the Department of Global Health, is a device (pHastCam) used to determine blood pH within seconds. Doing so allows the identification of newborns at high risk for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, which is a type of brain damage, thus allowing timely referral to health facilities with appropriate treatment resources.

The second project, SkinVAX, led by Sean Murphy of the Department of Laboratory Medicine, is an ultra-low volume microarray syringe adaptor intended for effective malaria vaccines. Malaria causes 600,000 annual deaths and an estimated 240 million infections, with children under the age of five at particularly high risk of death. PfSPZ is a whole organism malaria vaccine that can achieve up to 100% efficacy but has one setback; it requires three to four intravenous (IV) immunizations to be effective making it largely impractical for use in much of the world. SkinVAX would eliminate the need for multiple doses, revolutionizing malaria vaccination.

The last of the projects, SeaO2_Farms, led by Mari Winkler of the College of Engineering, works to reduce CO2 emissions. Specifically, the project proposes growing gigatonnes of microalgae offshore to absorb huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. The SeaO2_Farms process hopes to reduce CO2 emissions at a lower cost than of land crops without using arable land or fresh water.

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