One Health Ph.D. students place among finalists for Global Student Design Sprint to Tackle Emerging Infectious Diseases

headshots of May Thongthum and Soung Iballa
May Thongthum and Soung Iballa

May Thongthum and Soung Iballa, doctoral students in the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions department of environmental and global health One Health program, are among the finalist teams selected for the Innovate4Health global design sprint to bring forward a new generation of innovators to address the challenges of emerging infectious diseases.

As Team GatorBugs, Thongthum and Iballa’s project aims to intervene in consumer behavior to increase demand for antibiotic-free animal products in grocery stores. They will work to assess the effects of an awareness intervention package against antibiotic use in the food system on animal product consumption patterns. Gatorbugs is developing an Antibiotics Free Index (AFI), which indicates availability of antibiotic-free products in the store and includes it in the intervention content. Through mass communication, they aim to influence consumer behavior, ultimately increasing the demand for antibiotics-free animal products.

According to a ReAct news release, through Innovate4Health, university and graduate-level student innovators from across the globe propose creative solutions to tackle the growing threat that emerging infections such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and COVID-19 pose.

During the design sprint, teams will continue to develop their projects with the assistance of expert coaching. They will produce a social media strategy, write a blog to advocate for public and policymaker attention to their target issue and put together a pitch presentation for an expert panel.

This design sprint is sponsored by ReAct – Action on Antibiotic Resistance, the International Federation of Medical Students Association, and the Innovation + Design Enabling (IDEA) Access Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.