Meet the Healthcare Innovators Making It Easier to Thrive

A cancer-detecting phone plug-in, a self-injectable contraceptive, and more.

Each year, GOOD celebrates 100 people from around the globe who are improving our world in creative and innovative ways—advocates, inventors, educators, creatives, business leaders and more who are speaking up, building things, campaigning for change, and ultimately refusing to accept the status quo.

In this section, meet 12 individuals modernizing medicine and revolutionizing healthcare.

Hossam Haick’s App Can Smell What Ails You

\nHaifa \n

Hossam Haick can’t diagnose cancer just by looking at you, but he’s close. The 40-year-old chemical engineer and nanotechnologist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology holds dozens of patents for noninvasive diagnostic technology: nanomaterial-based chemical sensors, self-healing “electronic skin,” breath analysis, and more. Last spring, he launched the SniffPhone, a breathalyzer plug-in for smartphones that can detect over 23 diseases, including lung cancer. As easy as talking to Siri.

Dr. David Walton Helps Poor Hospitals Go Digital


Before joining global technology consultancy ThoughtWorks as director of global health, Dr. David Walton built and directed medical facilities in Haiti, including the country’s first women’s hospital. Now he helps resource-poor regions digitize medical infrastructure. During the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, Walton’s team designed the electronic records system that enabled patient data to move from contaminated red zones to pharmacists in safe green zones. This year, ThoughtWorks will deploy its open-source hospital management software to help modernize facilities in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Marjaneh Halati Gives Hope to Abuse Victims


While attending the University of Cambridge, social psychologist Marjaneh Halati wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the often abusive institution of marriage in Iran and has devoted her life since to helping vulnerable women recover from its damages. Halati’s Omid-e-Mehr Foundation in Tehran offers three-year rehabilitation programs providing therapy, education, vocational training, and housing to victims of trauma and abuse. Currently, she’s building a career and entrepreneurship center for the program’s graduates to combat Iranian hiring norms that discriminate against female runaways.

Sangu Delle Shells Out for a Stronger Africa


Ghanaian venture capitalist Sangu Delle’s stacked portfolio of African-owned, social-impact startups is particularly health venture heavy. Delle’s company, Golden Palm Investments, has funded revolutionary endeavors, like mPharma’s cloud-based drug prescription software, Rabito Clinic’s rural healthcare and dermatology services, and Stawi’s fortified porridge flours. Next on Delle’s agenda is launching an angel fund focused on female entrepreneurs in Africa.

Dr. Laila Bugaighis Modernizes Medicine in Rural Libya

Washington, D.C.

Prior to leaving her hometown of Benghazi, Dr. Laila Bugaighis logged 23 years in public health. She taught at Libya’s medical university, crafted policy reform, and served as CEO of Benghazi Medical Center, where she partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to develop high-standard ambulance and emergency childbirth services in rural areas—a project that had been derailed by civil war. An outspoken women’s rights advocate, Bugaighis recently moved to Washington, D.C., as threats and violence toward female political activists escalated in Libya.

Dr. BJ Miller Redesigns Death with Empathy

San Francisco

Dr. BJ Miller, executive director at the Zen Hospice Project, is a man with an illuminated view of his own mortality. As a student at Princeton, a near-fatal electrical shock cost Miller both legs below the knee and half of one arm. The experience continues to inform his work as a pioneer in palliative care, merging traditional medical services with an attitude that embraces dying as “an essential part of life.” This year, he’s fighting to make insurance companies cover peaceful end-of-life care.

Gidi Stein Prevents Medical Mess-ups


Israeli computational biologist Gidi Stein co-founded MedAware after hearing about a 9-year-old patient dying from a prescription error. Using algorithms that analyze data from billions of prescriptions, MedAware products can identify potentially erroneous medications in real time, map institutional risks, and even answer pharmacists’ and clinicians’ treatment questions. The company launches in the U.S. later this year.

Lisha McCormick Strives for a Healthier Liberia

New York City

Last Mile Health, an organization that trains and equips community health workers in rural areas, was founded in a closet in Liberia in 2007. Over the past two years, its staff and trainees led the coun- try’s Ebola response—Liberia was declared free of the virus in January. Now Lisha McCormick, the organization’s chief development officer, is shaping policy with the Liberian government to professionalize those workers and deploy 4,000 personnel across all remote villages in the country, bringing primary care to an estimated 1.2 million people.

Zhen Gu is the Needle-Averse Patient’s Hero

\nChapel Hill

To minimize the suffering of diabetics and cancer patients, University of North Carolina biomedical engineer Zhen Gu wants to kill the syringe. He’s currently developing two precision drug-delivery systems: a topical “smart insulin patch” that releases insulin automatically into the bloodstream and nanocapsules that deliver anticancer drugs to the most active destinations.

Dr. Joe Cohen Aims to Rein In Malaria

\nBrussels \n

When pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline appointed Cohen to lead its malaria vaccine program in ’87, he admits he knew little about the infectious disease. Last July, the RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate that Cohen, now quasi-retired, helped invent became the first ever to receive international regulatory approval. It begins pilot deployment in sub-Saharan Africa this year.

Dr. John Brownstein Takes Disease Surveillance Mainstream


Dr. John Brownstein’s field of work barely existed when he started using online news aggregators and social media to track emerging public health threats in real time. A decade later, HealthMap remains the gold standard for digitally monitoring disease outbreaks. In the years between, Brownstein built a platform that tracks live street prices for diverted prescription drugs, delivered flu shots through Uber, and consulted for Contagion. Last July, Boston Children’s Hospital took computational epidemiology mainstream, appointing Brownstein chief of innovation.

\nSara Tifft’s Contraceptive Access Crusade \n


It began with condoms. In the late ’80s, Sara Tifft entered the global health sphere directing a contraceptive social-marketing program in Bolivia. These days, she is a leader in global health nonprofit PATH’s reproductive health program, geared toward the 225 million women worldwide who lack access to modern contraception. Tifft helms PATH’s pilot program for the Sayana Press device—as of September, the first self-injectable contraceptive approved in the United Kingdom—in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, and Uganda.


The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet