So Hallisey set out to develop a diagnostic test that was less expensive, less time-consuming, and did not require constant refrigeration. The result was a paper-based, water-activated detection card that changes colors based on the outcome. Hallisey’s design was a fraction of the cost of current detection kits –– at $25, compared with $1,000 –– and can also be used in detection of HIV, Lyme Disease, and certain cancers.
American scientists have found other ways to demonstrate the power of paper-based diagnostic testing. Helen Free, who won the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2009, developed a “dip-and-read” test (with her husband Alfred Free) that measured blood sugar when dipped into a urine sample. The simplicity and inexpensive nature of the test paved the way for self-testing for diabetics.
We are thankful for all of Helen Free’s contribution!
Obama repeatedly emphasized that theme of discovery and collaboration throughout his remarks at the ceremony.
“By following the trail of your curiosity wherever it takes you, you are continually adding to this body of knowledge that helps make us a more secure, more prosperous, and more hopeful society,” he said. “Science has always been the hallmark of American progress.”
Deepika Kurup, an 18-year-old student from New Hampshire, saw an opportunity to tackle an existing challenge during her family’s annual trips to India. After seeing children drinking unsafe water, then-14-year-old Kurup began thinking of ways to more effectively and inexpensively purify water for the more than 1 billion individuals who don’t currently have access to clean drinking water.
Nearly a century before Kurup began developing her water purification method, Abel Wolman, the “father of clean water” developed the most basic approach to water sanitation: adding just enough chlorine to water to kill any harmful bacteria present, but not enough to make the water unsafe for humans to drink.
Like Wolman, Kurup’s sanitation method involves exposing the water to chemicals meant to kill off any dangerous bacteria –– but it takes the purification process a step further. Kurup found that two chemicals –– titanium dioxide and zinc oxide –– when exposed to sunlight, can kill harmful bacteria present in contaminated water.