Andover Students Attend World’s Largest Global Health Conference

Seth Godin, “New York Times” Bestselling Author and Blogger, stood before 2,200 health professionals and students in Yale University’s Shubert Theatre as he talked about the effective strategy needed to communicate ideas. Nestled among the audience were 14 Andover students, members of Andover Global Health Initiative (AGHI) on their weekend trip to Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC).

“The riskiest thing you can do now is be safe having average products for average people. That’s risky. The safe thing to do now is to be at the fringes, be remarkable,” said Godin.

Last Friday, AGHI traveled to Yale to participate in the conference, hosted by Unite For Sight, a non-profit health delivery organization committed to promoting high-quality healthcare for all.

According to Unite For Sight’s website, the GHIC’s main purpose is to unite those interested in global health, international development and social entrepreneurship to create an exchange of ideas and an understanding of new developments in the fields of global health and entrepreneurship.

The conference hosted over 300 speakers, providing a variety of “innovation sessions,” as Unite For Sight’s website called them, for participants to attend, such as lectures on the application of film to engage and educate members on new developments in global health and technology pitches on mobile applications to help report results of Rapid Diagnostic Testing in Columbia.

“One person I found particularly fascinating was Jeffrey Sachs. He talked about how the world is changing and how we need to take control of our actions and how that is affecting communities worldwide,” said Graydon Tope ’14, Co-Founder and Co-Head of AGHI.

“What I find so ironic [about what he said] is that people will listen to all these wonderful things that come at them, yet they fail to take action: they don’t do anything. So what I feel is great about us is that we’re young enough to know that we have a future ahead of us and that we can actually do something, so that’s what is so powerful,” she continued.

Hector Cho ’15 added, “There was this group called Prometheon Pharma, a biotech startup out of the University of Florida, who pitched one of their products at one of the innovation sessions. As opposed to having the patients carry around a needle and a pump, the patch is just much simpler, cheaper and more discrete. To be one of the first to learn about the latest advances in both the pharmaceutical and traditional biology world is quite amazing.”

In addition to the array of “innovation sessions” that members of AGHI attended, members of the club also had the opportunity to network with health professionals, CEOs and graduate students to establish relationships for future use, according to Cho.

“The majority of the time, I got the speaker’s contact information so I could later shoot them questions. For instance, I even got the email of the founder of Theo Chocolate, who gave a presentation on building responsible business models,” said Tope.

“Also, I remember some random person on the street for no particular reason, and as it turned out, he was [a health professional] at Yale for the conference and gave me his contact information,” she continued.

The Andover Participants were Caroline Chen ’14, Co-Founder and Co-Head of AGHI, Graydon Tope, Meera Bahn ’14, Cho, Alessa Cross ’16, Rachel Gerrard ’15, Alexandra Houle-Dupont ’15, Chris Li ’15, Felix Liu ’15, Michael Ohakam ’15, Amelia Rider ’17, Soha Sanchorawala ’14, Erica Shin ’16 and Parker Tope ’16.

The Andover Global Health Initiative, created last year by Chen and Graydon Tope, is grounded in their belief of “the agency of people to affect change.” Their motto, “Educate, Inspire, Act,” guides their club meetings and represents the goals of their efforts.