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GSK Innovation: Graham Simpson’s work in paper based diagnostics

GSK innovation

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GSK is a global healthcare company. The company’s pharmaceuticals division includes a diverse portfolio of drugs in the areas of respiratory, HIV, immuno-inflammation, and cancer.

What inspired Graham Simpson to develop paper-based diagnostics?

Graham Simpson was an R&D Scientist at GSK, when he joined the PULSE volunteer program, in 2010. Little did he know, he would stumble upon an idea that would change healthcare for good.

While volunteering with Ogra Foundation in Kisumu, Kenya, he worked with villagers to help build a sustainable approach to the economy.

While there, he realized that potentially devastating conditions like pre-eclampsia cannot be diagnosed in pregnant women, in rural areas of Africa. While in developed countries, the truth was otherwise.

There was a need for cheap and reliable diagnosis in remote, rural areas. By bridging the gap between diagnosis and treatment, lives could be saved.

When he returned to GSK in 2011, he shared his idea of developing a basic, simple diagnostic that would improve health while also generating livelihoods with his boss, Dr. Moncef Slaoui.

GSK promoted an innovative culture, and Dr. Slaoui connected Simpson with researchers at John Hopkins University, who were investigating diagnostics and had the same passion for global health issues.

Simpson began working with a number of labs to help further his vision. He also used internal social media sites to find like-minded people and built a team of passionate internal experts to help mentor the student teams from Hopkins.

Simpson teamed up with another PULSE Fellow Michelle Wobker, as well as Dwight Walker and Connie Erickson-Miller, and went on to develop paper-based diagnostics for ante-natal screening and to improve the treatment options for malaria.

Simpson’s idea won the global League of Intrapreneurs challenge, hosted by Ashoka Changemakers. As part of his award, he and his small team were supported for 4-months by a world-leading consulting firm to further develop this idea.

For his work and the resultant GSK Innovation, Graham Simpson was recognized as one of the top 100 influencers in the pharmaceutical industry.

“An evolving and complex disease burden demands different treatments. The commercial climate is getting tougher. The need to devise solutions to the healthcare challenges faced by some of our poorest countries is ever more pressing. If we are to generate creative ideas to address these challenges, we require the lateral thinking and energy that intrapreneurs can bring.” – Graham Simpson

Simpson’s work made paper-based diagnostics possible.  He brought a huge change in the environment around him and in our view, shares the spotlight with various other intrapreneurs like Amy Chen, Sam McCracken, Myriam Sidibe, Nitin Prajanpe, Mr. SivakumarGeorge Swenson, and countless others whose efforts changed the fortunes of their organization.

Want to know more about all those intrapreneurs? Read about them in our Power of innovation ebook, available for free. You can download the book here – Power of employee Innovation

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