Grand Prize Winner, 2015 Google Science Fair
Olivia Hallisey developed a novel diagnostic test for Ebola as an independent research project for her science research class. Learning about the epidemic's exponential growth, she saw the critical need for early diagnosis as the key to slowing and stopping the spread of the virus. In the case of Ebola this is particularly critical as individuals are not contagious prior to developing symptoms. Existing diagnostic protocols, in particular the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test are temperature-dependent, expensive, time-consuming and complicated, requiring unbroken refrigeration from point of manufacture to point of administration ("the cold chain"), costing ~ $1,000 and requiring two hours for diagnosis and trained medical personnel to administer. In comparison, the "Ebola Assay Card" (EAC) that Olivia developed encases reagents in a thin silk film, "breaking the cold chain" by making them tempera ture-independent, critical in many areas of the world where power may be intermittent or non-existent. In addition the EAC is inexpensive (approximately $5/test), rapid (results are ready in less than 30 minutes), portable, sustainable (composed only of paper, silk and small amounts of reagents) and visual, indicating results through a color change which eliminates language barriers and increases ease of use.
Olivia was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2015 International Google Science Fair for her research. TIME Magazine selected her as one of the "Thirty Most Influential Teens of 2015", the World Economic Forum cited her as one of "Four Girls Who are Changing the World" and she was recognized by the Rodale Company on their list of the "Rodale 100 - as one of the 100 People, Products, Companies and Organizations Positively Impacting our World." She was recently honored to be selected as a presenter at the White House Science Fair.
Olivia is in her senior year at Greenwich High School. She is continuing to progress her research as a broad disease diagnostic with applicability for other ELISA assay-based diseases such as Lyme, Zika, Dengue and Yellow Fevers and certain cancers. She considers the decentralization of disease diagnostics permitting early diagnosis and care critical to safeguarding global health in today's highly interconnected world.
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