Through comprehensive, on-site programs in whole-context, user-centered, iterative design, CIGHT seeks to transform and inspire future healthcare leaders in global health. CIGHT healthcare training guides students through real-world applications of engineering principles to product design for resource-limited settings.
CIGHT students emerge with a sophisticated understanding of biomedical design for the developing world. CIGHT programs teach students to:
- Identify critical healthcare needs. CIGHT emphasizes the value of preventive care, timely diagnostics, and training interventions for local healthcare workers to create dramatic improvements in healthcare outcomes.
- Manage all stages of the iterative design process. CIGHT teams learn the fundamentals of laboratory research and development, iterative testing and redesign, and strategies for commercialization, manufacture, sale and distribution to local healthcare markets.
- Create products for resource-limited settings. CIGHT projects teach students to design cost-effective, high impact healthcare technologies that can work with local climates, limited infrastructure, uncertain supply chains, and minimal access to trained medical personnel.
- Develop cultural competence for the developing world. CIGHT coursework integrates medical, social, and business training to achieve effective product management for developing world. CIGHT students train in “bottom-up” communications that recognize the community—including local physicians, healthcare workers, and the patients themselves—as key partners in bringing about effective healthcare interventions.
CIGHT programs include options for undergraduate and graduate students and integrate formal coursework with on-site training. Educational programs include the following:
CIGHT, with funding from the National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Alliance and the National Science Foundation, now collaborates with the Northwestern Biomedical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering Departments to offer masters programs with a certificate in Global and Ecological Health Engineering. The certificate program trains engineers to become globally competent in either biomedical or environmental engineering and sustainability.
The five-quarter program runs concurrently with the existing biomedical and environmental engineering masters programs with one additional term of course work and a summer research project in South Africa, India, or other countries in the developing world.
In collaboration with the University of Cape Town, South Africa (UCT), CIGHT offers students from all engineering disciplines the opportunity to study abroad as part of the Global Health Technologies program. The program combines formal coursework with direct experience in design and testing of new heathcare products for the developing world. Many biomedical engineering students take part in CIGHT study abroad as a natural continuation of their senior design project work, taking designs developed on Northwestern’s Evanston campus for further testing with physicians, healthcare workers, and patients in South Africa.
CIGHT study abroad teams have a wide array of projects to choose from. Recent projects include breathing monitor for infants in Kangaroo Mother Care, a phototherapy device to treat jaundice in newborns, an interface to maintain positive airway pressure in premature infants, and a breast milk heat-treatment device for HIV-positive mothers.
Northwestern seniors enrolled in the biomedical engineering capstone design course have the option of selecting projects dedicated to healthcare product design for the developing world. Students learn to identify the key problems associated with pressing healthcare challenges for resource-limited settings and deploy solutions robust enough to meet those challenges. Past capstone design teams have created more than 20 devices for the developing world. Several student projects are currently in development with NGOs and not-for-profit organizations.
NIH recently awarded Northwestern University a 5-year, $200,000 grant to support projects in this course.
Both undergraduate and graduate students participate in research and design projects aimed at improving quality of life across the globe.