• Testing Medicines

    We are developing low-cost tests that can be used outside of the lab to detect low-quality medications.

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  • Undergraduate Research

    Undergraduates make important contributions to solving real-world problems.

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  • Working Globally

    International partnerships enable us to create practical solutions for the developing world.

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  • What's inside?

    Chemical analysis of active pharmaceutical ingredients and excipients answers questions about the quality of medications.

Low quality pharmaceuticals are a global problem

The World Health Organization estimates that 10-30% of the pharmaceuticals that are purchased in the developing world are substandard or outright fake drugs. Many countries in the developing world do not have the technological infrastructure or regulatory resources to keep low quality medicines off the market shelves. And since the pharmaceutical trade is a lucrative global market, low quality medicine can cross borders and harm people anywhere in the world. 

We are making tools to solve this problem.

Paper analytical devices (PADs) are test cards that can quickly determine whether a drug tablet contains the correct medicines. They are cheap and easy to use. They don't require power, chemicals, solvents, or any expensive instruments, so they can be deployed rapidly at large scale whereever a problem with pharmaceutical quality is suspected.

We are leveling the playing field.

These little test cards could change the balance of power between sellers and buyers. Right now, most buyers have to trust what the seller tells them about the quality of the pharmaceuticals they purchase. Unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors know that there is little chance that their medicines will be screened in a lab. These paper test cards don't need a lab, and they will enable people all over the world to quickly detect low quality medicines and remove them from the market.

Project Updates

Paper microscopes

Author: Marya Lieberman

A Stanford research group found a way to print optically transparent microscope lenses onto a paper substrate.  The user just folds the microscope up to use it. Total cost of the microscope is expected to be around $1 US.  


Full story on NPR 

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Nicholas Myers wins fellowship to help identify substandard antibiotics

Author: Marya Lieberman

 The United States Pharmacopeia has selected Nick Myers as one of three USP Global Fellows in 2014-2015.  Nick will develop a new type of paper-based test that can detect pharmaceuticals  that don't contain the right amount of active ingredients.  When a person buys an antibiotic, that product ought to contain the right quantity of medicine.  But more than one in five of the samples from our field study site in western Kenya are substandard--mostly underdosed. …

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