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Thought in Action at the Erb Institute
As a senior commercialization officer for the Seattle-based nonprofit global health organization PATH, Claudia Harner-Jay, Erb ’98, spends her days brokering the creation and introduction of health products that otherwise might not be produced because they are intended for low-resource countries, and thus suffer from a perceived lack of market.
“We envision a world where health is within reach for everyone,” Harner-Jay says. “Our goal is to help improve health by advancing technologies, strengthening health systems and encouraging healthy behaviors.” PATH acts as a bridging agent between the public and private sectors, providing incentives and mitigating risk for companies working on products that can improve health. “We might help cover product development or clinical trial costs, or create a market by aggregating public sector demand.”
Currently, she leads a commercialization team working on a five-year safe water initiative to explore market-based solutions to increase access to water treatment and storage products at the household level, primarily in India.
Harner-Jay was attracted to the U-M by the opportunity to earn an MBA and a master’s degree in environmental studies. “Michigan’s program was the most comprehensive, plus the business school had a reputation for being collaborative,” she recalls.
Today, Harner-Jay regularly uses her business skills and understanding of public policy to negotiate on behalf of the public good. “The systems thinking from business and from the public sector side really help me. You have to understand and address the needs and concerns of different stakeholders, and always focus beyond the financial bottom line.”
READ MORE: Claudia Harner-Jay at PATH
Working this summer as a William Davidson Institute fellow with the international nonprofit PATH, Colm Fay, Erb ’12, helped create a market entry strategy and global demand model for a low-cost device to reduce maternal mortality in developing countries. PATH is helping develop the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG), which is similar to the bottom half of a wetsuit that limits blood flow to the lower body. Up to 60 percent of maternal deaths in developing countries are caused by post-partum hemorrhaging. The internship included a two-week trip to India to observe clinical trials in Rajasthan and Chennai and meetings with members of the public health community who will be instrumental in adoption of the NASG.