Bill Thies, who works at a Microsoft Research unit in Bangalore, India, helped build a low-cost system to monitor delivery of medication to tuberculosis patients.
Bill Thies, a Microsoft researcher who helped build a low-cost system to monitor delivery of medication to tuberculosis patients, was among the winners of a coveted “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
Thies’ work — at a Microsoft Research unit in Bangalore, India, one of the Redmond-based company’s largest software development hubs — is focused on how technology might aid global development.
“We try to make technology more accessible and useful to low-income populations, and to see if technology can amplify the impact of organizations who are working on their behalf,” he said in a video posted on the MacArthur website.
The 99Dots program Thies worked on helps health-care providers cheaply and quickly make sure their patients are following through with drug treatments.
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In the case of tuberculosis patients, who need to complete a multi-month regimen of medication to beat back the disease, each capsule patients opens reveals a new phone number. When the patient calls the number from their mobile phone, the system notifies the health-care provider that the dose was taken.
Other projects he has worked on include CGNet Swara, a program designed to enable citizen journalists in isolated communities to spread news via audio recorded on mobile phones.
Thies, 38, holds a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and joined Microsoft Research in India in 2008.
His $625,000 no-strings-attached grant, awarded over five years, comes from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Thies is among 23 winners this year.
Last year’s batch of MacArthur grants also included someone with Microsoft ties: Patrick Awuah, who walked away from a lucrative career at the software company in the late 1990s to start a liberal arts university in his home country of Ghana.