These Trailblazers Are Finding Fresh Ways to Battle Health Issues

34 under 34:The Rising Stars in Health

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With an endless amount of culinary choices, diet options, and conflicting nutrition info, even a simple “What’s for dinner?” can feel like a loaded question. These innovators are reimagining healthy food, feeding people in need, and creating jobs for farmers half a world away.
Partha Unnava
Photo: Courtesy of Partha Unnava

Partha Unnava

Partha Unnava

While playing basketball with some friends during college, Unnava broke his ankle and spent six weeks on crutches. "I absolutely hated the experience," he says. That inspired him to give the common walking aid a long-overdue makeover. Unnava got in touch with Zeroto510, a program that helps entrepreneurs with medical inventions get their ideas off the ground, and developed Better Walk. These crutches are unlike any you’ve seen before. They take the pressure off a person’s armpits, an innovation his team says has been "5,000 years in the making."

What's your go-to breakfast? “Definitely an omelet with avocado, jalapeños, tomato, and salsa."
What would your autobiography be called? "No Backup Plan: Philosophies Inspired by Entrepreneurship."

"This very simple program was able to save lives with low-cost intervention." - Katy Ashe

Katy Ashe and Edith Elliott
Photo: Courtesy of Katy Ashe

Katy Ashe and Edith Elliott

Katy Ashe and Edith Elliott

Ashe and Elliott met through a group project in graduate school at the Stanford Design Program, where they were tasked with improving hospitals in India. "The hospitals were providing incredible care to thousands of patients from every socioeconomic background," says Ashe. "But when families returned home, they didn't know what to do in order to prevent and heal after a major health episode."

The duo, along with classmates and eventual cofounders Shahed Alam and Jessie Liu, attempted to solve that problem by creating a training program for family members of cardiac surgery patients. And it worked: "What we found was that complication rates plummeted, and this very simple program was able to save lives with low-cost intervention," says Ashe. Now Noora Health is in more than 25 major hospitals across India, and Ashe predicts they will have trained over 1 million people by the end of 2018.

What do you have at home you could never leave behind? "My favorite mug. My friend Tess made it for Noora Health after working on a project with us, and everyone fights over the mug because it is comically large and quirkily homemade." - Ashe
Elliot Cohen and TJ Parker
Photos: Bryan Derballa, Mimi Phan

Elliot Cohen and TJ Parker

Elliot Cohen and TJ Parker

In Parker’s eyes, PillPack is just an offshoot of the family business. "My family owned and operated a pharmacy in New Hampshire," Parker says. “As a kid I was doing everything from filling prescriptions behind the counter to delivering medications to people in their homes.” When Parker met Cohen at MIT, the pair put their mutual interest in medicine to use. The result was Hacking Medicine, a group that hosts hackathons to brainstorm solutions to global health issues.

It was a visit home that prompted Parker to develop PillPack. Cohen accidentally interrupted his father in the middle of filling his pill box. "After seeing the frustration and anguish on my father’s face, I knew I had to work on PillPack," Cohen says. Think of PillPack like Seamless for medication: It packages it by the dose and delivers it straight to your door.

What’s something you look forward to each day? "I have a 100-pound, somewhat internet-famous Bernese Mountain dog named Quinn who greets me at the door every night when I get home." - Parker
"No two days are the same—I really look forward to that." - Cohen
Mark Arnoldy
Photo: LinkedIn User markarnoldy

Mark Arnoldy

Mark Arnoldy

Arnoldy has had a hell of a life. He had surgery as a baby to correct the shape of his skull, got a tube inserted into his chest as a teen to fight a case of pneumonia, had a softball-size mass removed from his arm, and suffered a major allergic reaction to a dish he ate in Nepal. It was that final experience that inspired Possible Health. Why shouldn’t there be available health care in developing countries?

That’s exactly what Possible does: provide high-quality, low-cost health care in places that can’t afford it. Arnoldy puts himself in the middle of the action, often spending 48 hours commuting to rural Nepal to meet local doctors and ensure his vision of affordable and readily available care comes to life. Since launching in 2008, Possible has helped treat over 380,000 patients in Nepal.

What was your worst job? "Selling health insurance over the phone when I was in high school."

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