clintonscholars guaravGaurav Agrawal and Angelin PonrajBiomedical engineering students Guarav Agrawal and Gerardo Hernandez-Moreno are among 21 UAB students participating in the Clinton Global Initiative University from April 1-3 at the University of California, Berkeley. The two BME students are working on two different interdisciplinary projects, but both seek to address common health concerns.

Agrawal , a junior from Mobile, is working on a team that includes Christlin Ponraj, a graduate student in biotechnology, and Angelin Ponraj, a sophomore in biomedical sciences. The team is seeking a simple, private way to alert Alabama residents about their risk for diabetes. Their project will use a color indication change in toilet water to make users aware of a potential diabetes diagnosis and the need to seek further testing and treatment.

clintonscholars Gerardo Hernandez MorenoGerardo Hernandez-MorenoHernandez-Moreno, a junior from Pelham, and JaVarus Humphries, a junior majoring in neuroscience, plan to develop a network of unbiased medical professionals to offer a safe place for inner-city youth to learn about sexual health and disease. They hope their Spreading Awareness project will challenge the stigmatization of sexual education.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 18.8 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010. “Southern states have the highest percentage of diagnosed cases, making them essential targets for preventive and early detection diabetic care,” Agrawal said.

The integrated latrine technology allows users to become aware of their diabetes diagnosis at an early stage, “prompting users to visit a nearby clinic for further testing and treatment,” Christlin Ponraj said.

“We hope that this affordable, easy-to-use device will also allow us to advocate for the benefits of preventive medicine,” Angelin Ponraj said. “This project has the potential to expand to other states in the U.S. as well as other nations, promoting health awareness and greater longevity globally.” The group hopes to expand the technology to detect sexually transmitted diseases and even various types of cancers in the near future.

Agrawal attended CGIU in Miami in 2015, where he introduced plans to introduce safety and hygiene to areas in rural India.

Also attending this year's CGIU is BME graduate Sagar Kaushik, now a graduate student in the UAB School of Public Health. His team is working to enhance the education and medical aid of women in underprivileged areas of India through the nonprofit organization One Life at a Time. The initiative will offer young women the opportunity to receive an all-expenses-paid high school education, with an option for a college education as well.