Creating equity in global health would be a giant leap for humankind. Ersilia is taking a big first step.
Barriers to equitable healthcare and scientific research are systemic and immense — and disproportionately impact developing countries. While an alarming 6 of the top 10 causes of deaths in low income countries are due to infections, only 15% of the drugs in development target infectious diseases, according to the World Health Organization. These countries also produce less than five percent of the world’s scientific publications. The result is a vicious cycle: the lack of timely biomedical research and limited access to potentially lifesaving medicines effectively neglect the needs of billions of people living in low resource countries.
The Ersilia Open Source Initiative is working to change that. The tech nonprofit organization strives to create equity in healthcare by making user-friendly data science tools openly available to those tackling the spread of infectious diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. Ersilia’s open source AI models help speed up experiments and reduce drug development costs and support researchers working in low-resourced settings.
But Ersilia is a lean organization — it’s run entirely by its two founders and a growing number of contributors. Resource-strapped and relying on manual processes to create its AI models, the nonprofit struggled to scale. That changed when Splunk selected Ersilia as a recipient of the Splunk Global Impact donation program, an initiative that provides software licenses, training, support and education to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions around the world.
Now with Splunk, Ersilia is able to achieve unprecedented scale and work towards its short-term goal to serve 10 times more global health researchers in the next two years, initially focusing in Sub-Saharan Africa with plans to expand to Latin America. “We don’t have the luxury of time to make generational changes in the education of biomedicine in the Global South,” says Ersilia co-founder and chief scientific officer Miquel Duran-Frigola. “That could take three generations — from being admitted to school to graduating with a PhD. But data science helps them leapfrog into the future, today.”