Indian American Neil Davey develops device to diagnose malaria; Invited to TEDx, Paris, event in May

Harvard student Davey won accolades in 2016, too, when he developed a new technique to detect cancer cells from tiny amount of blood.

Neil Davey. Credit: LinkedIn.

Indian American student at the Harvard University Neil Davey has developed a device that can diagnose malaria in a more cost effective and time efficient way.

Davey and his colleague Miraj Shah have developed a small hand-held device to detect malaria. They call it UniDX (Universal Diagnostics). Their invention would bring an effective solution to identify malaria at an early stage, worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 50 percent of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2015, nearly 212 million malaria cases were reported; and about 429,000 people died due to the infectious disease.

Davey’s device extracts DNA from a drop of blood and then converts it to the microfluidic drops. When the device detects a malaria-affected DNA, it amplifies it and makes it fluoresce.

A third year undergraduate student at Harvard College studying Applied Mathematics and Economics, Davey received a silver medal at the Harvard’s undergraduate section of the National Inventors Hall of Fame’s Collegiate Inventors Competition, in 2016. His research project Early Cancer Diagnosis by the Detection of Circulation Tumor Cells using Drop-based Microfluidics identified method to detect cancer DNA in the blood. Co-founder of two technology startups, Davey is interested in medical devices that includes point-of-care diagnostics.

Recognizing Davey’s latest invention, TED has invited him to speak at its event TEDx in Paris, France, on May 20. He would represent his team at the conference and talk about his team’s new medical device. Reportedly, after his Paris trip, he would travel to India to share his technique with the government of India. WHEELS Global Foundation announced to fund Neil Dave with $15000 to further develop the device UniDX.

The WHO has declared April 25 as the World Malaria Day. This year’s theme for the event was End Malaria for Good. The organization estimates that, on the global scale, malaria cases have reduced by 21 percent between 2010 and 2015. However, WHO acknowledges that much work still remains to be done.

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