As we begin this new year, we at Project Plus One look back over the last three years since our founding and know that we could not have reached this point today without you. We want to take this opportunity today to thank you for your continual support of our organization and the Bairo Pite Hospital in Timor-Leste. Together, we are all dedicated to strengthening a healthcare system that cares for hundreds of patients a day who face extreme hardship and social inequality.
We here at Project Plus One know that such a mission requires the kind of commitment that is both long lasting and unwavering. Equally as important, it requires a strong community. Thank you for joining with us these past years. Together we look forward to the next chapter of our work this year as we begin the implementation of our tuberculosis treatment initiative. We are calling this the Doorstep Treatment Support program and together with our partners, the Millennium Campus Network, the British Medical Society, and the Bairo Pite Hospital, we are aiming to bring tuberculosis medication and disease education to over 125 patient households across Timor-Leste a month for several years to come. You can learn more about this program through our web site here.
Happy New Year,
Paul, Nate & the rest of the Project Plus One team
I was recently interviewed and featured in this month’s Northeastern College of Computer Science Newsletter where I talked about my work with Project Plus One, the Broad Institute, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You can read the full article through this link.
Broad Institute President Eric Lander, Eli and Edythe Broad of the Broad Foundations, Broad Institute Board of Directors Vice-Chair Diana Walsh, Harvard University President Drew Faust, MIT President Rafael Reif, and Caltech President emeritus David Baltimore celebrating the Broad Family’s latest 100 million dollar donation.
At the forefront of biomedical research and carrying the momentum onward from the Human Genome Project is the Broad Institute. It’s been a true honor working here for my final co-op alongside over two thousand brilliant researchers. We are all relentlessly searching for the truths and cures to the world’s most devastating diseases and biological problems. Today, following another incredibly generous gift from Eli and Edythe Broad, the Institute cements itself for another decade of discovery.
Being a part of Project Plus One has had an impact on my life like almost nothing else. Our work supporting health care systems in Timor-Leste has brought together incredible people across Timor-Leste and the United States to take on some really challenging work. Since 2011, we’ve worked on various efforts, had our ups and downs as an organization, and will soon be announcing our largest, most important project yet (stay tuned).
As we approach three years since our founding, I was invited back in August by EverydayAmbassador.org to share the most valuable lesson I’ve learned through Project Plus One. With the Millennium Campus Conference happening this weekend at Northeastern University, I’d like to reshare that story now. This is a story about the how we’ve learned just how important the human connection is in our sector.
To the young and inspired activist, ready to start a non-profit, build a hospital, or save a life, I want to ask you to pause for a minute. This is a critical pause that most of us in the social sector at first overlook, myself included.
For two years, I have helped run a 501(c)(3) organization called Project Plus One (PP1). I was aware of unreasonable hardship around the world and had always wanted to dedicate my time to reducing burdens of disease and poverty in the world. In 2011, together with a great team of friends, I learned about the Southeast Asian nation Timor-Leste, and the challenges their healthcare system faces.
Timor-Leste is a small island country off the coast of the Australia that gained its independence from Indonesia in 1999. The nation’s young healthcare infrastructure often lacks the structure and resources to fully care for the sick. Oftentimes prematurely born babies do not have incubators to protect them or children lack access to vital vaccines easily available here in the U.S. Despite these difficulties, local nurses and international doctors still treat patients for a variety of diseases, conditions, and traumas – up to 500 per day at some hospitals.
You can imagine how much my team and I wanted to make a difference. In the summer of 2011, two of our members touched down in Timor-Leste, fully energized, with the rest of us back in the United States feeling gung-ho and ready to gather for them whatever money or tools they needed to start making an impact.
Paul and Donny began working at the Bairo Pite Hospital with great enthusiasm, but their energies dampened as they grew overwhelmed by the nature of the cases, their lack of formal education to administer advanced care, and the general unknown. “I have no clue about the people, the language, the culture, or the system of the Hospital” Paul told me via e-mail. “How am I supposed to do this?”
I was lucky to join a distinguished team of physicians, nurses, engineers, behavioral scientists, and businesswomen
Last weekend I participated in the first ever Brigham and Women’s Hospital/MIT H@cking Medicine Hackathon. Alongside an incredible team, most of whom I had just met, I helped design a mobile application that one day could allow hospital patients to submit safety concerns to hopsital staff in real-time. Supported by powerful back-end analytics and a well-thought-out deployment plan, this tool could improve in-patient safety and help hospitals prevent future problems from reoccurring. The hospital system has always been lacking a tool that gives patients a voice and we believe that our solution could fill that gap. We presented our ideas to an esteemed panel of venture capitalists, physicians, business CEOs, and hospital administrators and our team was given the Best Teamwork award. I look forward to participating in future hackathons like these where so many people put all their energy into designing solutions to critical problems.
The New York Times has posted a new article about one of the greatest objects man has ever built: the Voyager 1.
Launched in 1977 with far less computing power than a modern iPhone, the NASA spacecraft has traveled billions of miles across space, showing us how immense the universe is and putting our small Earth into perspective. Recently, Voyager 1 has exited the solar system and entered into new, barely-understood interstellar space. Reading Carl Sagan’s book, The Pale Blue Dot, I’ve learned a lot about the trusted Voyager and am inspired by its impact on humanity.
The same month (August 2012) that happened, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on the surface Mars, taking full-HD, color images of the planet’s craters, mountains, and other surroundings.
On Wednesday night our co-ed intramural soccer team won the finals of the competitive league at Northeastern. This team has been playing together since freshmen year 2009 and we’ve become an incredible group of friends. This was our second playoff championship in three seasons.
This summer I’ve joined IDEA, Northeastern’s venture accelerator. Serving as a coach, I will look after a portfolio of five early-stage start-ups and help develop their business model and share with them my technical expertise. Why did I choose to join IDEA? For a variety of reasons.
IDEA is a truly exciting organization at Northeastern. Founded and managed by students at the university, IDEA has helped over a hundred different ventures develop their business model and increase their likelihood of market success. These ventures, founded by students, alumni and faculty of Northeastern, also have the opportunity of receiving gap funding from IDEA. Last year alone, IDEA gave away $250,000 in gap funding to these young start-ups.
SeveralofIDEA’s ventures have made their way to the market and are enjoying great success. Northeastern University embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, and IDEA proves that fact. In fact, it is the nation’s only student run venture accelerator. It has even picked up the attention of Forbes Magazine, which featured it in a story here.
In the words of its CEO Max Kaye, IDEA helps “entrepreneurs in three ways—by coaching, connecting, and funding. Every venture receives a coach, who works with the entrepreneurs on the business plan, financials, and go-to-market strategy.”
It’s been a relaxing and warm two weeks off from school that I’ve spent with my great friends from home. Tomorrow I start my final co-op at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, working alongside some of the world’s prominent genomic and metabolomic scientists. There I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to create software that can power their discoveries. Our ultimate goal is to reach the point in a few years where we can scan a person to see if they are in the very early stages of diseases like diabetes, as well as to pinpoint possible cures or remedies via cell metabolites.
I’ve always dreamed of working some place where my efforts can have an impact on another’s life. Here’s my chance. The terminology is all new to me, the technology is daunting, but motivated and inspired, the only feeling I have is excitement.
This week I was honored to be chosen as one of the Huntington 100 Distinguished Juniors and Seniors. Each year, Northeastern University selects 100 graduating seniors to be given this award “acknowledging students who have excelled in various areas across the university—from research to athletics to experiential learning”. As a recent Northeastern News article explained, “to be considered for the Huntington 100, students had to be nominated by faculty, staff, coaches, employers, or their peers.” Typically reserved for seniors, this year seven juniors were included in the award, including myself.
I had the pleasure of celebrating this achievement with my colleagues at President Joseph E. Aoun’s house on Beacon Street.