A Wright State professor who helped direct students in constructing low-cost medical equipment for developing countries, and another whose pioneering research has helped improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and their families, have been named the Wright State University Social Entrepreneurship Fund’s first two award recipients.
“As a public institution, part of our explicit and implicit mission is to help meet the public’s needs,” said Vice President for Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement Kimberly Barrett, Ph.D. “The Social Entrepreneurship Fund helps those whose primary goal is that common good. It has been very exciting to see people work toward fulfilling that part of our university’s purpose.”
Thomas Hangartner, Ph.D., led a team that used off-the-shelf components to build a digital x-ray imaging device that does not require film, chemicals, or other supplies after installation. Nasser Kashou, Ph.D., and five students traveled to Malawi in May to deliver the first machine to a health care facility in a rural village.
“This project served as a real-life laboratory in social innovation for those students,” Barrett said. “It’s a simple concept that has the potential for significant impact, especially if these devices will someday be able to be manufactured commercially.”
Govind Bharwani, Ph.D., designed customized therapies for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The therapies include music, video, brain stimulation through games and puzzles and memory prop therapy. Studies showed the patients’ moods and behaviors improved dramatically following therapy sessions, and the need for medications decreased.
“As our population ages, the number of people dealing with these issues will grow significantly,” Barrett said. “This research could help improve the lives of many families and caregivers as well as the patients. It will serve as a model for other programs in the future.”
The awards from fund totaled $30,000. Barrett said 12 proposals were received. She has encouraged some promising candidates to reapply in 2014.
Barrett said she would like to encourage more worthy projects through the Social Entrepreneurship Fund, which is supported by private donors. Those interested in donating can contact Barrett (937-775-5240) or Vice President for University Advancement Rebecca Cole (937-775-2852).
“There was a very interesting scope of projects,” Barrett said. “We were looking for those that were creative, innovative and sustainable. Most of all, we wanted projects that helped meet a significant need in our local or global community. This fund will help meet those needs and encourage people who are working toward positive social change.”