Harish Kilaru

Major: Health Policy and Community Development

Last summer, I spent five weeks in southern India with Rural Innovations in Medical Engineering (RIME). I founded RIME at the beginning of my sophomore year with the mission to empower rural healthcare providers through the design of affordable, financially sustainable medical devices. Our first product was a device that would help diagnose respiratory infections and jaundice. Rudimentary alpha-prototype in hand, I traveled to India with two other teammates to understand the disparity from the perspective of all stakeholders. Our goal was to both validate the need for our device and identify other potential interventions. We immersed ourselves in the system – shadowing physicians and nurses, interviewing patients, and visiting the villages from which many traveled. We also initiated important collaborations with local academic institutions. We gained insight about the systemic barriers driving the disparity, and developed skills to navigate cross-cultural barriers inherent to student humanitarianism. Despite realizing our product would not have the impact we desired, the cultural immersion was critical to our understanding of the environment, and provided a realistic view of where we could intervene. I am tremendously proud of the resiliency of our team and am excited by the potential for entrepreneurial solutions to transform affordable healthcare. I remain an active leader of RIME as we continue to improve our understanding of healthcare in underserved communities.