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English Detective #101 3-6-18 Developing new health breakthroughs
March 06, 2018

What skills and attitudes enable health breakthroughs? This week English Detective looks at several teams who are solving big health challenges by developing new, inexpensive technologies.

A Smithsonian article talks about the American bioengineering professor & her students who have partnered with colleagues in countries around the world to design low-cost solutions for hospitals that can’t afford expensive American equipment.

Among the devices they have developed are a better way to detect jaundice in newborns and less-expensive CPAP (breathing) machines. Students combine the study of engineering and sociology with design projects, and then do field work around the world to get feedback from the people who have requested the designs.

I love the professor’s summary of their work: “There's a lot of power in having 18- and 19- and 20-year-olds who are at the peak of their creativity and who haven't been told you can't do it that way."

A biotech start-up that was inspired by research at U.C. Santa Cruz has created sensors that can detect cancers, bacteria, & viruses faster and less expensively than current methods. One of the inventors had this advice for young scientists: “find the most significant problem you can think of…and completely devote yourself to it. Otherwise… you’re just kind of wasting your time.”

Finally, an article in Time magazine describes a potential breakthrough in public health: a safe form of ultraviolet light that can kill flu and other viruses, as well as bacteria.

(If you have time, try watching this TED talk as well. It talks about the thinking that enables this kind of discovery.)


Vocabulary Practice: Germs

Review the basics of infectious disease vocabulary on Types of Germs, with category and matching practice.

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