MIT connections

by Anjali Sastry on October 20, 2008

This is an evolving survey of MIT and local Boston-area opportunities, efforts, and resources related to global health. It’s unofficial, and it’s incomplete. Send us anything you think is missing!

MIT initiatives, centers, and programs related to global health

Innovations for International Health
a nice overview of Global Health and Biomanufacturing Research Activities at MIT (thanks to MIT’s Center for Biomedical Innovation)
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
The Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology
Sustainability@MIT Sloan
Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship
XPrize Lab @ MIT
MIT Public Service Center
The Broad Institute

related classes at MIT

Health information systems to improve quality of care in resource poor settings HST 182

HST 939 / 15.127Designing and Sustaining Technology Innovation for Global Health Practice

Developmental Entrepreneurship

Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries

D-Lab Health

14.73 The Challenge of World Poverty


X-Prize Course


The Boston area offers a great selection of related organizations and programs to investigate. To get started, check out:

The Global Health Delivery Project
MGH Center for Global Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities
Harvard Business School
Harvard Medical School Department of Social Medicine
The François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights
Partners in Health
The Harvard Initiative for Global Health (HIGH)


Do we need to add your class, group, or site? Please leave a comment below!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Sampath March 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

The 2010 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for innovative hygiene solutions to encourage clean hands among those living in poverty. Solutions should be designed for implementation in communities living at or below the poverty level.

Promoting Clean Hands for Health and Prosperity
Millions of children die every year of diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections, which remain leading causes of preventable death, especially among the young in developing countries. Hands are a common vector for disease transmission, and the number of deaths could be cut dramatically if a simple method of cleaning hands were widely promoted and practiced. In addition to the obvious health benefits, associated economic benefits, such as reducing the amount of school and work days missed, would accrue as well.

For more information visit:

Questions? Contact Laura Sampath:

Each year, the Yunus Challenge highlights a pressing and often overlooked need of the world’s poor and enables MIT students to develop solutions to address it through a variety of mechanisms, including the IDEAS competition, D-Lab, and Public Service fellowships, internships and grants. The Challenge, named in honor of 2006 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, was initiated and is supported by MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, supporter of the IDI, and benefactor of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

Vitor Fernando Pamplona September 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Please add NETRA ( to your list. It is being developed at the MIT Media Lab.

NETRA is a small, portable solution allows for anyone, anywhere to get an eye exam, and access a care provider through the mobile network. The setup consists of three parts: a smart phone, a hardware app and a software app.

Snap the NETRA adapter onto a smart phone loaded with NETRA software, follow the simple instructions, and quickly receive your prescription for glasses right on the phone. NETRA fits snugly in a pocket and requires minimal training to operate.

Background: Hundreds of millions of people worldwide unnecessarily suffer from treatable medical illnesses and conditions—especially in developing regions. High cost and low accessibility of care—including diagnostics—are the leading barriers to treatment.

Eye care is an area with a particularly high number of untreated: over half a billion people worldwide suffer from a type of preventable eye impairment. Uncorrected refractive errors (ie nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism), presbyopia (age related eye condition), and cataracts (cloudiness in the eye) result in lost productivity, lost independence, illiteracy and impoverishment on a massive scale.

Current diagnostic systems are large, expensive, disconnected, and difficult to operate. As a result, many people in developing nations go without eye exams and remain unaware that they have a treatable eye condition.

Leveraging the ubiquity and advanced hardware of mobile phones, we are developing and disseminating mobile mates–affordable and easy-to-use mobile phone attachments that allow anyone to measure their eyes and get a recommendation for treatment. Like a thermometer, NETRA aims to empower hundreds of millions in their own homes through patient centric ecosystems that start with diagnosis and awareness, and end with options for quality care.
Starting with refractive errors and cataracts, NETRA and CATRA are our first of a growing line of solutions geared towards eye health. Stay tuned to our twitter feed for continual developments over the coming months.

More info:

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