Young Visionaries Advancing the Future of Global Public Health

The 2018 Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge—the culmination of the third year of HealthRoots’ partnership program with UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, and a growing community of leaders in academia, global development, clinical medicine, technology, venture capital and many stripes of innovation—brought 12 student teams to San Francisco for a weekend-long “accelerator” leading up to a public pitch event and awards ceremony.

The 12 teams were selected by a large group of expert reviewers, including our own Dr. Singa, earlier in the spring. Teams were selected for the quality of their innovation, its potential for impact on the health of global communities, and its business viability. Ideas ranged from a decision-making support system for clinicians treating traumatic brain injuries, to providing human breast milk banks with a simple, cheap and effective method to detect milk contaminated with E. coli in donated milk, to an ingeniously engineered low-cost ankle joint prosthetic, and even a novel approach for accurate opioid testing in low-resource settings. Over a two-day session, these teams received hands-on mentoring and guidance, and learned from a diverse range of experts in health, technology, and many other industries. It was an incredible weekend, with infectious energy throughout, many meaningful connections made, and long-lasting impact for all involved.

Trang Duong, Alex Yang and Victor Wang of the Penta Prosthetics Group were the grand prize winners of the Challenge with their idea for a low-cost prosthetic foot device that provides personalized assistive function to amputees in developing countries who might not otherwise have access to any prosthetic care due to cost. Amputees who are forced to use low cost prosthetics often suffer and inevitably stop using the devices due to discomfort, inflexibility and over all poor quality. The team’s invention has a built in function that can be personalized to individual weight and aims to greatly improve the quality of available prosthetic devices that are also affordable. Amputees will be able to walk more normally and be less likely to suffer from long-term health problems, such as back pain and deterioration in their weight-bearing leg.

Thanks to our own Dr. Ramesh Singa, Jacob Coverstone, Camille and Giovanna Grigsby-Rocca and of course Dr. Grigsby for their support for these teams and this program, and to our incredible partners at UC Berkeley, the Al Mann Foundation, Bioness, Google, Facebook, IDEO, and so, so many more. Planning for 2019 has begun already, and there are many ways to get involved—as an expert reviewer, mentor, or otherwise. Learn more at (where we’re slowly but surely updating it with the 2018 results), and contact Camille Grigsby-Rocca anytime to learn more at