Cornell to develop FeverPhone with $2.3 million from NIH

The emerging smartphone technology will target half-a-dozen diseases such as malaria and typhoid in the field to enable clinicians to deliver better treatment immediately.
By Bernie Monegain
09:27 AM
Cornell FeverPhone NIH

An early prototype of the FeverPhone now in development. 


The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has awarded Cornell University a four-year $2.3 million grant to develop ‘FeverPhone.’

The new technology will be designed to diagnose six diseases in the field: dengue, malaria, chikungunya, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and Chagas’ disease. It may be expanded to diagnose the Zika virus, which was not included because the grant application was submitted before the current outbreak, officials noted.

The goal is for FeverPhone to provide real-time, rapid and accurate diagnosis using a drop of blood to differentiate and identify specific pathogens – a shift from basing field decisions on apparent syndromes or clinical judgments – and to do so in geographical regions where medical resources are scarce.

[See also: Mayo Clinic lands $142 million from NIH to build precision medicine biobank.]

Faculty members David Erickson, professor in Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Saurabh Mehta, associate professor of global health, epidemiology and nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Human Ecology, will lead the development team.

“Acute febrile illnesses – such as malaria and dengue – are responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality around the world, and this problem carries imposing economic cost, primarily in developing countries,” Mehta said.

Mehta added that by diagnosing those common illnesses on the spot, doctors can use FeverPhone to deliver appropriate treatment faster.  
“As we face an alarming rise in dangerous illnesses like Zika, both in the U.S. and around the world, it is crucial that our medical professionals have the best tools at their disposal to track, treat and prevent disease,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY said in a statement. “These cutting-edge scientists at Cornell University are on the cusp of transforming our medical industry by developing the mobile technology that can provide healthcare workers the most up-to-date diagnosis information at their fingertips.”