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NDIGD, PAD Project win USAID Development Innovation Ventures award

Author: Meg McDermott

This paper test card is inexpensive way to distinguish substitutes or diluted drugs from real medicines used to treat common bacterial infections and tuberculosis

The Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development and Marya Lieberman have won a USAID Development Innovation Ventures award to improve global health. Lieberman, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, will expand her Paper Analytical Device research in Kenya.

Many pharmaceuticals, particularly those purchased in the developing world, are of poor quality or fake. The Paper Analytical Device project (PAD), supported by the College of Science and the Eck Institute for Global Health, allows users to quickly determine whether a drug tablet contains the correct medicines. The PAD innovations could have a significant impact on the many countries that USAID serves, including Kenya. PADs are cheap, easy to use and do not require power, chemicals, solvents or any expensive instruments. These factors make them easy to implement in developing countries.

This newest award from USAID will allow Lieberman and the Purdue University College of Pharmacy AMPATH program to expand the PAD Project in Kenya. Over a 12-month period, Lieberman will develop a manufacturing process to scale up making the PADs, and test a cellphone-based image analysis system to make them easier to use. More than a thousand PADs will be used as part of a large-scale post-market surveillance of pharmaceuticals in western Kenya. The surveillance of drug quality will also be integrated into the pharmacovigilance program and the drug purchasing process at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, which is a large purchaser of pharmaceuticals in Kenya. Screening large numbers of medications at different points in the pharmaceutical supply-chain will help the team to uncover falsified products that harm people in Kenya and neighboring countries.

USAID Development Innovation Ventures is an open competition supporting breakthrough solutions to the world’s most intractable development challenges — interventions that could change millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost.

An integral part of the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, NDIGD works to promote human dignity through global partnerships and applied research, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and training. The Keough School, scheduled to open in August 2017, will prepare students for effective and ethically grounded professional leadership in government, the private sector and global civil society, engaging them in worldwide effort to address the greatest challenges of our century.

Contact: Joya Helmuth, NDIGD, 574-631-9753,

Originally published by Meg McDermott at on November 10, 2015.