Cornell University has received a grant to establish a new center for engineering, testing, and commercializing point-of-care diagnostic devices. The center, named Point of Care Technologies for Nutrition, Infection, and Cancer for Global Health (PORTENT), aims to develop technologies with international reach to address global health challenges. Led by Cornell professors David Erickson and Dr. Saurabh Mehta, PORTENT will receive funding from the National Institutes of Health.
The PORTENT center will act as an incubator, supporting mid-stage technologies related to nutrition, infection, and cancer. It will provide technological development support, funding, and expertise in validating and disseminating these technologies. This initiative aligns with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)’s mission to develop and distribute clinical technology through multidisciplinary partnerships.
PORTENT will collaborate with several universities and health organizations. The validation of new technologies will occur at four clinical sites worldwide: Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, St. John’s Research Institute in India, the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral in Ecuador, and the Infectious Diseases Institute in Uganda. Additionally, teams at McGill University and Columbia University will offer training and capacity-building support to technology developers.
Affordable point-of-care diagnostics are in high demand, especially in regions with limited access to testing. The Lancet Diagnostics Commission’s 2021 report highlights the critical need for accessible testing in primary care. PORTENT aims to address this need and make a significant impact in the field. Erickson and Mehta have a long history of collaboration in developing portable systems for diagnostic testing. They have already created a low-cost, rapid test to detect iron and vitamin A deficiencies and are working on tests for cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and malaria.
In the next five years, PORTENT plans to launch 20 projects, enroll 15 teams in its Global Health Lab-to-Market accelerator program, train 30 healthcare workers in low- and middle-income countries to use point-of-care technologies, and provide clinical rotations for technology developers. The center aims to foster collaboration and research, ultimately improving healthcare outcomes globally.
Erickson and Mehta are excited about the potential impact of the center. By bringing together experts from different fields and providing the necessary resources and funding, they believe PORTENT can accelerate the development and adoption of innovative technologies. Their goal is to find solutions to pressing healthcare challenges and make these solutions affordable and accessible worldwide. With its interdisciplinary approach and international reach, PORTENT is poised to make a significant contribution to global health.