Emory University freshmen Brian Goldstone and Rostam Zafari are on a mission to help save lives with an extra credit assignment from their biology lecturer, Rachelle Spell. They were challenged to examine how doctors currently test for Ebola—and improve it.
After collaborating with Emory advisors and other students, the duo developed Rapid Ebola Detection Strips (REDS): a quick, simple, and more cost-effective way to detect the virus. Check out our favorite excerpts from this Emory News Center article:
“Brian and Rostam came in to see me during my office hours,” Spell recalls. “I started with my usual banter and they announced, ‘We wanted to tell you that we took your challenge very seriously — we’ve created this test and we’re going to patent it.’”
“I began thinking about those strips they use to test for urinary tract infections, wondering if the science could be adapted for Ebola,” Goldstone says.
“We have access to the materials, the experts, and the literature of Emory’s excellent medical research facilities,” the students explain. “Since we found ourselves at the crossroads of the right time and the right place, we felt obligated to take action.”
“My passion has always been humanitarian causes,” Zafari says. “The right to medical care? I view that as a human right.”
While there are some experimental testing strips now being used to attempt early detection of the Ebola virus, “they typically detect the virus when symptoms are present — our goal is to detect it during incubation, when people don’t yet know they’re sick, to help stop Ebola’s rapid spread,” says Goldstone.
The students have dedicated the project to the memory of Rostam’s best friend who was killed in a plane crash the day before classes began. To learn more about Brian and Rostam’s work, visit the REDS Indiegogo page. They are raising funds through October 12 to run Phase 1 trials, build a prototype, and optimize the test for use in the field as soon as possible.
Editor’s note: REDS is our crowdfunder of the week. Check our call out to support them here.