i-calQ’s pioneering technology, using biosensor-equipped smartphones to quantify, interpret, and record point-of-care diagnostic tests, didn’t come from a lab or academia, but from an African public health crisis. In 2007, while doctoring on the Uganda Congo border in an Ebola epidemic we realized that the inability to diagnose Ebola cost lives. In remote Africa where virtually nothing worked, one technology did: mobile phones. Imagine using the phone to perform a rapid, accurate diagnostic test to distinguish Ebola from, for example, measles. Physical exams didn’t work. There had to be a better way: smartphone-based diagnostics.
Chief Executive Officer/Co-Founder
Prior to joining i-calQ, Pamela Turbeville was the CEO of Navistar Financial Corporation, where she led her team in securing funds, maintaining liquidity and ensuring quality for an $8 Billion portfolio. Some of her accomplishments included two multi-year restatements and leading her organization through a successful SEC investigation. In this role, she served on the board of Navistar Financial Corporation and as Chairman of both the NFCx (Mexico) and Navistar Leasing Services Boards. Before this position, she led health & safety, security, HR, communications, public affairs and facility services for Navistar.
Ms. Turbeville has served on a number of boards including chairing the West Boca Medical Center Board, an award winning 200 bed hospital in Florida specializing in a broad array of services including specialization in Level III Neonatal care and several non-profit boards, such as: The Chicago Network, Illinois Women’s Forum, Columbia College Chicago, the University of Denver Daniel’s School, the Norton School at the University of Arizona and the UA Foundation.
Turbeville holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Denver, a Masters in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Dallas and a BS from the University of Arizona. In addition, she attended the Stanford Executive Program, the Northwestern University Kellogg Director Development Program and received her certification from the National Association of Corporate Directors.
Physics and Optical Engineering
Randall Polson received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Utah and is the senior optical engineer for the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah. He specializes in scanning electron microscopy and ultra-fast optics and teaches courses in electron microscopy. Professor Polson supervises the atomic and molecular microscopy and spectroscopy facilities for the Sorensen biotechnology center at the University of Utah.
Theodore Espiritu is principal of Espiritu Design. Mr. Espirtu’s accolades include the Red Dot Design Award Best of the Best 2010 and the Red Dot Design Award 2007. Theo has a longstanding interest in the design of affordable and sophisticated technology healthcare solutions for the developing world. One of his many innovations is the design of prosthetic legs for the developing world. A graduate of the University of New Mexico, Theo teaches industrial design in the School of Architecture at the University of Utah.
i-calQ traces the roots of its testing technology to a point-of-care diagnostic test developed in 1994 to diagnose congenital thyroid disease in places where lab facilities were not available.
Every newborn in affluent countries is checked for congenital thyroid disease at birth. Congenital hypothyroidism affects 1 in every 3000 babies. It can be easily diagnosed and safely, effectively, and inexpensively treated. If not diagnosed and treated within the first month of life, congenital thyroid disease results in permanent mental retardation. One country in Asia will start using our test for newborns starting in 2015.
In 1998, field trials of a point-of-care thyroid diagnostic test were conducted in Outer Mongolia, 500 miles across the Gobi Desert from Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s capital. In the course of this research, photographs of thyroid test results were taken to help in the interpretation of and keep a permanent record of test results. This is one of the earliest documented uses of a camera to record lateral flow test results.
In 2007, point-of-care thyroid tests were used to study iodine deficiency on the border of Uganda and the Congo. While this research was going on, an outbreak of Ebola occurred in one of the Ugandan districts where the iodine deficiency research was taking place. Experts from the World Health Organization, the United States Centers for Disease Control , and Doctors Without Borders arrived on the scene and set up their standard procedures for dealing with extremely contagious, often lethal disease. Ill people would come to a single district hospital. Ebola cannot be diagnosed clinically; blood tests had to be flown to a U.S. laboratory delaying diagnosis. Many patients with symptoms that could indicate having Ebola were quarantined without any diagnostic testing. Patients who did not have Ebola were put in the same isolation ward as patients who did have Ebola. Consequently, ill patients with diseases other than Ebola contracted the Ebola virus. People quickly realized that going to the hospital could be a death sentence and fled the district where the epidemic was centered. This resulted in a further spread of the Ebola virus and prolonged the outbreak.
At this time, the first generation of smartphones had recently become available in Uganda. It was obvious that a point-of-care diagnostic test for the Ebola virus was needed and that a smartphone could be used to interpret the test, store the results, and transmit the information to a centralized public health database. If a point of care test were available, affordable and readable by a mobile phone, it could identify patients with diseases other than Ebola and help prevent their exposure to the deadly virus. The spread of the epidemic would be curtailed and the control of the epidemic monitored in real time. We also recognized that a smartphone-based point of care diagnostic technology had wide applicability in medicine and public health. We became committed to turning this idea into a functioning medical device.
Four years later, we achieved this goal, demonstrating a working prototype of a smartphone-based quantitative point of care testing system.
i-calQ was founded in 2011 to commercialize the use of smartphones as a platform for point-of-care testing. Initial research showed that smartphones were able to provide quantitative lab test results that could be combined with medical decision support algorithms to provide a comprehensive disease management solution.
In 2013, i-calQ introduced smartphone-based thyroid disease management using point-of-care TSH measurement, a stress management system based upon salivarycortisol measurement, and an antenatal healthcare management test panel which includes point-of-care HIV, syphilis, glucose, blood pressure, hemoglobin, and urinary albumin measurements to provide standard antenatal screening.
Our inspiration comes from the field experience gained during the 2007 Ebola epidemic. For our team of medical, business, optics, industrial design, and information technology experts, our goal continues to be developing practical, affordable and accurate medical care technology with point-of-care diagnostics integrated with smartphone-based analytics disease support.