Big Idea Talk with Karen Heichman, Deputy Director of Diagnostics, Global Health Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Ultra-Fast, Low-Cost, SARS-CoV-2 Testing
Karen Heichman, PhD has been at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since July 2018, where she is a Senior Program Officer in the Innovative Technology Solutions program within the Global Health Division. Karen normally divides her time between leading the development efforts for TB diagnostics, as well as evaluating novel diagnostic technologies for global health. For the past few months, Karen has led the foundations efforts for assessing and validating novel and sustainable methods for specimen collection for COVID-19 diagnostics, including the development of a home collection kit comprised of an inexpensive polyester nasal swab, an empty tube, collection instructions and shipment without cold-chain.
Prior to coming to the foundation, Karen was the VP of New Technology Assessment and the founder and Director of the PharmaDx program at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City. The PharmaDx team was formed in 2012 to address the unique needs of the pharmaceutical industry and in 2015, ARUP received FDA approval for two companion diagnostic assays in support of the Novartis Gleevec Rare Diseases Program. Karen obtained her undergraduate degree in genetics from UC Berkeley and her doctoral degree in biological chemistry from the UCLA School of Medicine. She conducted her postdoctoral research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and spent the next twenty years of her professional career in Salt Lake City fulfilling a variety of roles, including the Vice President of Proteomic Research at Myriad Genetics, the Director of Cancer Systems Biology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of Utah, and the Vice President and Director of the PharmaDx Program at ARUP.