Jim Gallarda, Ph.D.

Challenges and Opportunities for Point of Care Diagnostics in Low and Middle Income Countries

Here are some sobering statistics (cited from http://scienceforsociety.com/)

  • Over 1 billion of the world’s population do not have access to electricity. Less than 10% of people have access to electricity in some countries
  • 660 million lack access to safe water. The water crisis is considered by many experts as the #1 global risk for impact on society
  • Almost a third of humanity (over 2 billion) lack access to adequate sanitation
  • Life expectancy globally varies from above 80 (in advanced nations) to below 50 (in some developing nations), due to inadequate access to health care
  • 16,000 children under the age of 5 die each day from preventable causes. 25% or more of children in 17 countries have never been to a primary school

None of these have easy answers. Throughout the world, extraordinary challenges require extraordinary competencies. In this talk, I will describe what the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doing in the area of global health diagnostics. I’ll discuss some of the lessons we are learning, and how it affects our work with our partners, whom we entrust to find real-world solutions to complex systemic problems. I’ll interweave the importance for technical innovation with the equally important (and sobering) need for business thinking, with an emphasis on “starting with the end in mind”. I’ll discuss the Foundation’s diagnostic roadmap, and wrap up with the single greatest deterrent to addressing these challenges, and some advice to innovators who might one day be called to tackle these extraordinary challenges.


GallardaDr. Gallarda brings a strong background in both science and industry with more than 20 years in developing in vitro diagnostics at Abbott Laboratories, Roche Molecular Systems, and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. He has extensive experience in blood screening infectious disease assay development and has overseen multiple teams developing immunodiagnostic & PCR systems for HIV-1, HIV-2, HCV, HBV and WNV. Most recently, while at Novartis, Dr. Gallarda led a companion diagnostics program for assays used to assess the effectiveness of tyrosine kinase inhibitors for treating patients with CML. He now serves as a Senior Program Officer, Diagnostics with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle.