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Monday, November 3, 2014

Innovation In The Battle Against Ebola

Kenyan medical workers learn how to handle an infected Ebola patient at the Kenyatta national hospital in Nairobi on October 28, 2014. (Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenyan medical workers learn how to handle an infected Ebola patient at the Kenyatta national hospital in Nairobi on October 28, 2014. (Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)

If it hadn’t been for a broken foot, Dr. Ian Lipkin, one of the world’s leading infectious disease investigators, would be in West Africa working on the Ebola epidemic. But since he couldn’t get his boot cast into a hazmat suit, he came up with another idea.

As a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, he teamed up with Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science to launch a challenge for students, faculty and alumni: develop a low-cost technology-driven solution to the many problems caused by Ebola — in two weeks. By low cost, Lipkin meant $150 or less.

The results, as Lipkin anticipated, are impressive. Among the finalists are bleach foam for decontamination, colored bleach to see whether every surface has been sprayed and a full body, breathable, cooled, Ebola containment suit that includes a hydration system and a form of diaper. Dr. Lipkin joins Here & Now’s Robin Young from Columbia with two students, Katherine Jin and Ritish Patnaik, to discuss the contest and their projects.

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