Geoffrey Siwo participates in NASA’s Singularity University

Author: Sarah Craig

Congratulations to Geoffrey Siwo, a doctoral candidate in the laboratory of Eck Institute for Global Health member Michael Ferdig, PhD, as more accolades are bestowed upon him. Siwo was selected for a 2013 entrepreneurial summer program at Singularity University, an institution founded by NASA, Genentech, Autodesk, Google, Nokia, Cisco, Kauffman Foundation, and ePlanet Capital. Their mission is to educate, inspire, and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges. His participation in the program will be at NASA's Silicon Valley campus and is supported with a full scholarship for 10 weeks. Siwo is one of only 80 people from 38 countries invited to participate in this exclusive program out of over 3000 applicants.

Michael Ferdig and Geoffrey Siwo

In addition, Siwo was the recipient of the Young Investigator Award at the Sage Bionetworks Congress held in San Francisco last April. Siwo, a native of Kenya, received both his bachelors and masters degrees from Egerton University in Njoro, Kenya.

This recent award, and once in a lifetime educational opportunity, recognizes his ongoing innovative work. Siwo is interested in solving complex scientific problems using computational systems. His research looks at the role of patient-driven discovery and how the pace of personalized medicine can be dramatically enhanced by the active participation of human subjects through exponentially growing technologies. In Siwo’s words, “The patient has enormous power to drive discovery especially through real-time access to data that could impact how we discover medicines.” His additional research includes exploring the system level properties of the human malaria parasite, the relevance to the fundamental principles of living systems, and the application to clinically relevant issues such as drug discovery.

Ferdig is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and has served as Siwo’s mentor, advisor, and friend. “Geoffrey is an uncommon thinker.  He combines a wealth of knowledge with a deep appreciation for the power for computing to discern meaningful patterns in large data sets. Consequently, he is perfectly situated to find solutions to vexing and complex problems in malaria and beyond.” Ferdig’s research focuses on the genetics and genomics of drug resistance and virulence on the malaria parasite, a mosquito-borne infectious disease. In 2010, between 660,000 and 1.2 million people died from the malarial disease, many of whom were children in Africa. There are over 3.3 billion people at risk in 106 countries around the world.

Siwo is a 2011 Fellow of the Eck Institute for Global Health where he received support in pursuit of his doctoral research. The Eck Fellowship Program at the University of Notre Dame is designed and awarded with candidates such as Siwo in mind. Fellowships are granted each year to outstanding graduate students from across the University who have a specific interest in global health and whose research is directed to questions that impact global health. Geoffrey Siwo has, and continues to, push the questioning envelope. While attending Singularity University this summer we know he will be a leader in their goal to “positively change the lives of a billion or more people.” The Eck Institute for Global Health is proud to have supported his trajectory of success in global health research.

The Eck Institute for Global Health is a university-wide enterprise that recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, and service to advance health standards for all people, especially people in low and middle-income countries, who are disproportionately impacted by preventable diseases.