Chicago Fellows Dinner Highlights

December 7, 2013

An Evening with Hertz Fellows and Friends in Chicago

Hertz First Round Interviews

Chicago Hertz Fellows and Friends gathered for dinner and a fascinating presentation by Philip Eckhoff, Hertz Fellow 2004, about Global Health and Development (details below). The event was a memorable evening of new and renewed friendships, laughter, intriguing conversation, science discussion, and problem solving. Hertz Directors, Interviewers, Fellows and friends attended at the Double Tree Hotel O’Hare in Rosemont.

Hertz First Round Interviews

Earlier in the day there were first round Fellowship interviews for 26 applicants. Chicago is one of 5 regional areas for Hertz Fellowship First Round Interviews, on-going through January 2014.

Intellectual Ventures Scientist and Hertz Fellow Philip Eckhoff, Keynote, Chicago Hertz Gathering

“Innovation for Global Health and Development: Reinvented Toilets, Vaccine Delivery, Disease Modeling and More”

One of the guiding principles of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life. There are tremendous needs around the world, as there are approximately 7 million deaths among under-5s every year. Many more experience chronic infections from various pathogens, wasting and stunting due to malnutrition, and poor access to health care. However, there are great opportunities for innovation to have tremendous impact in Global Health and Development, ranging from vaccine and drug development, water and sanitation, disease eradication, family planning, nutrition, and more.

There has been tremendous progress in Global Health, with the death rates due to infectious diseases falling substantially over the past 20 years. This is partly due to new vaccines, expanded distributions of existing vaccines and drugs, and improved standards of living and access to health care.  Unfortunately, many of these gains are fragile to threats such as drug resistance.  Eradicating a disease forever removes the threats of that pathogen evolving resistance to current treatments and provides robustness against setbacks in funding or health infrastructure. Eradicating a disease is difficult, and each campaign experiences challenges in strategy and tactics that can be addressed through mathematical modeling. For polio, we at the Institute for Disease Modeling analyze sparse data to help target vaccination efforts to those districts that are most vulnerable to outbreaks. We also build simulations to study the effects of different combinations of vaccines.  In malaria, we study how different combinations of interventions can achieve elimination of the parasite in each heterogeneous setting.

Modern sanitation is an important part of reducing disease transmission and improving quality of life. It is difficult and expensive to build sewers in many settings, so the challenge is to create a reinvented toilet that provides even better quality sanitation than sewer-connected toilets. There are a variety of technological approaches that can achieve this, and the Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge has engaged a new set of engineers and scientists on this issue.

There are many other areas in which innovation can improve the lives of many around the world, and the Hertz Foundation and the community of Fellows has an important role to play!

Philip Eckhoff, Hertz Fellow and Intellectual Ventures Scientist

Philip Eckhoff