Stanford University PrakashLab Foldscope

Stanford University Prakash Lab

Foldscope is an ultra-low cost microscope made from common materials such as paper. It is designed to be produced affordably, to be durable, and to give optical quality similar to conventional research brightfield microscopes and in the future darkfield, fluorescence, polarization and projection microscopes. Foldscope’s functions are currently being optimized for disease-specific diagnostics. Other benefits include usage in medical education and general education on the role of unseen lifeforms in infectious diseases.

Product description

Foldscope is an ultra-low cost microscope made from common materials such as paper. It is designed to be produced affordably, to be durable, and to give optical quality similar to conventional research brightfield microscopes and in the future darkfield, fluorescence, polarization and projection microscopes. Foldscope’s functions are currently being optimized for disease-specific diagnostics. Other benefits include usage in medical education and general education on the role of unseen lifeforms in infectious diseases.

Target region(s)

Southeast Asia and Africa, where research, prototyping field testing were initially conducted after years of work.

Distributors/implementing organizations

Foldscope is not yet commercially available. Foldscope is a project out of Prakash Lab, a research group in the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University. The team is working to make the microscopes commercially available through a startup/spinoff.

Market suggested retail price

As the Foldscope is not yet commercially available, no retail price has been specified. However, numerous articles cite the Foldscope as costing about 50 cents to 1 USD to manufacture, with the goal to distribute disease-detection instruments for little to no cost. According to the designers, Foldscope kits will be available in various forms: as individual kits or classroom kits, with different amounts of accessories included. All of this will be reflected in price, but large classroom kits (200 units) will cost one dollar per student.

Competitive landscape

Costly and bulky traditional microscopes and UC Berkeley Cellscope, which aims to offer mobile microscopy

SDG targeted

Goal [3: to improve and promote good health.

Field diagnostics in resource-poor settings where instruments and traditional lab based testing facilities and human resources are unavailable, along with gaps in medical and general education on diseases.

Clinical work in diagnostics is currently being conducted for several diseases such as loa loa, malaria, schistosomiasis, african sleeping sickness, chagas disease.

Target user(s)

As Foldscope is aimed at “democratizing science by developing scientific tools that can scale up to match problems in global health and science education, the creators of the Foldscope hope to create cheap and accessible solutions that everyone may interact with from researching adults in developing countries, all remote health workers to students in the city.”

The @AutodeskFdn blogged about our how-to guide for communities writing proposals for development projects https://t.co/MlRH1H0x2F