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Kellogg team a life-saver with Global Health Initiative

School's thought leadership key to public/private healthcare effort

Through the Kellogg School's Global Health Initiative (GHI), faculty and students aim to save lives.

In August 2006, Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering received a four-year, $4.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to research and develop affordable diagnostic devices to combat the HIV virus in developing countries. The initiative began in 2004 with Professors David Kelso from McCormick and Daniel Diermeier from the Kellogg School of Management.

Kara Palamountain '04 and Aparna Saha '04 worked on the Kellogg portion of the grant application while earning their MBA degrees. Palamountain has returned to the school as executive director of GHI, which she said focuses on solving critical problems in some of the world's poorest places.

"Not only are we developing processes and best practices for discovering what healthcare providers and people in developing countries need," she said, "but we are exposing future business leaders to issues facing the developing world."

Said Professor Daniel Diermeier, "There are unique problems in designing products for these markets because there is no existing market structure or understanding of the market."

To meet the challenge, GHI partners with industry and academic experts and nonprofit donors to research market dynamics, government issues and distribution channels to help develop diagnostic innovations for use in countries with limited healthcare infrastructure. In addition, the goal is to help the citizens who cannot afford diagnostic devices as currently configured. "Existing HIV diagnostics often require a central lab with electricity, refrigeration, trained phlebotomists and lab technicians," noted Palamountain. GHI seeks to adjust these technologies for success in developing countries.

GHI Student Chair Meredith Wilson '07 said that in addition to the faculty, Palamountain and seven full-time engineers at McCormick, more than 40 Kellogg volunteers are involved in research initiatives. Six Kellogg student teams have recently returned from conducting GHI-based research in South Africa, South East Asia, India and South America. "Also, we have students writing GHI papers in multiple classes," Wilson said.

This summer, GHI plans a collaboration with Kellogg Corps, the group that places small teams of MBA students on nonprofit consulting projects in developing countries worldwide. For additional information, visit

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