Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

OCW and Class Web Sites

This OCW web site presents selected class materials cleared for open distribution under MIT OpenCourseWare’s Creative Commons license. Other materials related to the subject, including more recent versions of the class, may be found at the class web site.

Course Directors

Prof. Jeffrey Blander

Prof. Utkan Demirci


Innovation in global health practice requires leaders who are trained to think and act like entrepreneurs. Whether at a hospital bedside or in a remote village, global healthcare leaders must understand both the business of running a social venture as well as how to plan for and provide access to life saving medicines and essential health services.

We will:

  • Explore the application of innovative management practice, business and non-profit foundation models, and new tools to address global health concerns.
  • Discuss specific case studies and best practices for strengthening service delivery systems, human resources in health, and rationale pharmaceutical design as well as rapid diagnostic testing will be discussed.
  • Leverage a strategic evaluation framework to help assess emerging opportunities and challenges in designing innovative solutions in global health.
  • Review existing and emerging tools, technologies and approaches that influence change agency in systems design and impact the delivery of health services in resource poor settings.

Each week, the course features a lecture and skills-based tutorial session led by industry, non-profit foundation, technology, and academic leader’s to think outside the box in tackling and solving problems in innovation for global health practice through the rationale design of technology and service solutions. The lectures provide the foundation for faculty-mentored pilot project from MOH, students, or non-profit sponsors that may involve creation of a market or business plan, product development, or a research study design.


We will show how innovative technologies and service based solutions will shape and redefine the global health care marketplace. Students will learn how technologies can enhance service delivery, distribution systems, in-service training, and medical education. Students will work in interdisciplinary teams to design an innovative field based solution to address a current or emerging global health problem. Students’ proposed solutions will draw upon understanding of tools and principles acquired and will be presented as an application design during the final days of the course. All students will have a faculty mentor to apply for field travel assistance from MIT and Harvard to implement the proposed project plan.


This interdisciplinary course will teach students how to critique and analyze various management programs and technology systems available within the global health space. Lectures and tutorials will offer didactic and experiential learning opportunities. The tutorials will serve as interactive discussion and training sessions to introduce the skills that will be used by the students to design an original field project and funding proposal. Skills will include those used by professionals in health economics, disease management, drug distribution, business planning and human resources in health.


To provide a unique learning environment that brings together students and faculty from diverse backgrounds including medicine, business, law, engineering, public health, education, and social policy to harness their creativity and experience for the purpose of enhancing health care delivery in resource poor settings.

Educational Goals

Upon completion of this course, students would be expected to be able to:

  • Describe the disease burden of infectious and noninfectious diseases in the developed and developing world
  • Apply learned frameworks to analyze local problems and assess stakeholder needs
  • Develop implementation plans for deploying innovative technology and/or based service solutions in resource poor settings within the U.S. and overseas.
  • Create a design project in collaboration with a sponsor around a ‘real world’ field based problem

Course Elements

The main course activities consist of two elements:

  1. A Spring semester course
  2. Opportunity to participate in a summer research ‘field based’ project

Teaching Methods

The students will form multidisciplinary groups to analyze, develop, and present a specific disease or health systems design program which will incorporate (but is not limited to) drug distribution, in-service training in rural areas, and diagnostic test development as presented during lectures and tutorials. A packet of materials will be distributed at the first tutorial that includes readings, written exercises, and instructions for the field project design.


This activity will be devoted to planning a field based pilot project. Students will be divided into three groups of four, and each group will meet to discuss and plan potential project designs. Each student group will then be responsible for working together as a team to develop a proposal and to discuss it with their preceptor.


Class participation, project team exercises and written reflection paper 30%
Final oral presentation 25%
Final report 45%


1 Overview

Jeffrey Blander

Jose Gomez-Marquez

Utkan Demirci

2 Expanding global access to life saving vaccines: HPV vaccine case study Jacqueline Sherris

Project topic presentations

Project proposals due

3 New systems for drug delivery Robert Langer

Group/mentor meeting

Project selections due

4 Microfluidics and global health practice

David Steinmiller

Elizabeth Bailey

Michael Lytton

Reflection paper 1 due
5 Alternative energy sources David Berry

Track selection

Stakeholder analysis due

6 R&D for resource poor settings George Whitesides

Team presentations

Stakeholder and event diagramming

7 Field trip to BAMM laboratory   Reflection paper 2 due
8 Medical device development Trevor Gunn  
9 Electronic medical records and research systems

Ben Bauman

Vikram Kumar

10 BioPharmaceuticals

Joanna Lowell, BVGH

Gail Cassell

11 Vaccines development Kalpana Gupta, IAVI Draft field proposal review due
12 Technology innovation Kris Olsen Team meeting
13 Venture philanthropy Brian Trelstad, Omer Imtiazuddin

Team meeting

Reflection paper 3 due

14 Final overview and lessons learned   Final field project paper due
15 Final projects and presentations    

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2008