Pitt School of Medicine's Gerry Douglas Named 2009 TED Fellow

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 25, 2009 — Gerry Douglas, a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has been named a 2009 Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) fellow. He was selected to participate in TED’s inaugural fellowship class for his work as co-founder of Baobab Health, a non-profit organization aimed at improving health care in developing countries through medical informatics.

“I felt distinctly privileged to attend TED and become part of the TED community — a TEDizen,” Mr. Douglas said. “After seeing and hearing about so many positive and creative initiatives going on in the world, I hold a new hope for humanity and feel re-energized in my endeavors.”

Mr. Douglas is one of 40 individuals chosen from a pool of international fellowship applicants. He presented his work on Baobab Health to the fellows group during the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif., earlier this month.

“TED fellowships are given to the super brilliant and rising talents across multiple scientific and creative disciplines,” said Michael Becich, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the Pitt School of Medicine. “The Department of Biomedical Informatics is proud to have Gerry Douglas as a Ph.D. student in our program. Great things lie ahead for this innovator.”

TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share their passion for technology, entertainment and design. Since the first TED Conference in 1984, TED has expanded to include an international conference; media initiatives, including TED Talks and TED.com; and the TED Prize.

In 2000, Mr. Douglas and his wife, Thuy Bui, M.D., director of Pitt’s Internal Medicine Residency Global Health Track Program and the Program for Health Care to Underserved Populations, co-founded Baobab Health in Malawi, Africa. Mr. Douglas implemented several innovative approaches to using technology in health care, including the use of a Baobab-created low-power, robust and inexpensive touch screen workstation for clinicians at the point of care. This system guides low-skilled health care workers with little or no computer experience through the diagnosis and treatment of patients according to national protocols.

To date, more than 800,000 patients have been issued national patient identifiers using the Baobab touch screen patient registration system and more than 18,000 have received HIV care facilitated by BART, the Baobab Antiretroviral Therapy system. Baobab has 30 staff members, most of whom are Malawian, and a group of volunteers from four countries. For more information about Baobab Health, visit www.baobabhealth.org.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading medical schools, renowned for its curriculum that emphasizes both the science and humanity of medicine and its remarkable growth in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant support, which has more than doubled since 1998. For fiscal year 2007, the university ranked sixth out of more than 3,000 entities receiving NIH support with respect to the research grants awarded to its faculty. As one of the university’s six Schools of the Health Sciences, the School of Medicine is the academic partner to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Their combined mission is to train tomorrow’s health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care.

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