Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI): What Makes Innovation Stick? (2018-2019)

Although 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability, the system of public health and health services is not adequately organized to promote independence. Even the most developed and well-resourced nations have medically underserved regions and communities where the presence of disability is compounded by inequities in social determinants of health. In 2016, the Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI) launched to engage students, faculty, the Duke community and external partners to examine the system supporting transitions in health and healthcare for people who experience an acute illness or injury and are newly living with disability.

This 2018-19 Bass Connections project (“GANDHI 3.0”) created a cohort of students committed to designing and implementing systems changes. The aim was to help implement, spread or scale up innovation at Duke and in Durham County for underserved and underrepresented populations experiencing transitions in health or healthcare. The 2018-19 team’s goal was to build capacity for social intrapreneurship: people who work as a member within their organization to develop and promote solutions to social and system challenges.  

Using Duke case examples of programs and interventions, students first learned the fundamentals of program planning, theories of change and implementation science. This type of real world research identified barriers and facilitators and studies methods to promote the adoption of interventions and policies. Skills learned were then applied to Duke projects aimed to improve healthcare, health and health policy. The team founded a student volunteer program for Lincoln Community Health Center, and also began a longitudinal database for Lincoln of patients’ unmet needs, access to community services and whether referrals were successful. They also held an Exercise Is Medicine Across the Lifespan Colloquium at Duke. While working on these projects, students met weekly as peer mentors, creating a cohort of social intrapreneurs at Duke.


Fall 2018 – Spring 2019  

Team Outputs 

Increasing Patient Ambulation at Duke University Hospital using Student Volunteers (poster by Deepti Agnihotri, Isabelle Doan, Gloria Hong, Alexandria Hurley, Athina Vrosgou, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Help Desk: A Student-Led Initiative to Address Social Determinants of Health in Durham, N.C. (poster by Sahil Sandhu, Lillian Blanchard, Veronica Sotelo Munoz, Jackie Xu, Connor Drake, Janet Prvu Bettger, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Help Desk: A Student Initiative to Address the Social Determinants of Health (talk by Veronica Sotelo Munoz and Sahil Sandhu, Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)


Sahil Sandhu T’20 Discusses Durham, NC Research Project

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2019-2020 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

Global and Local Partners and Inspiring Mentorship Catalyze Innovations in Integrated Care

Innovative Approaches for Integrated Care Featuring Dr. Janet Bettger

Duke Recognized for Culture of Wellness

Cherie Conley

Faculty Perspectives: Janet Prvu Bettger

Four Students Pilot Help Desk Initiative to Address Health Disparities in Durham

Janet Prvu Bettger on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Help Desk: Students Seek to Address Social Determinants of Health

Last Week’s Event Was Showtime for Student Global Health Researchers

Duke Students from across the University Share Their Global Health Research 

See related teams, Help Desk: A Student Initiative to Help Address the Social Determinants of Health (2019-2020) and Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI) (2017-2018), and related Data+ summer project, Smartphones and the Sixth Vital Sign (2018).

Bass Connections students in China

Team Leaders

  • Janet Prvu Bettger, School of Medicine-Orthopaedic Surgery

/graduate Team Members

  • Cherie Conley, Nursing-PHD
  • Veronica Sotelo Munoz, Masters of Public Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Deepti Agnihotri, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Isabelle Doan, Biology (BS)
  • Alexandria Hurley, Biology (BS)
  • Sarah McMahon, Psychology (AB)
  • Sahil Sandhu, Program II (BS)
  • Athina Vrosgou, Cultural Anthropology (AB)
  • Jacqueline Xu, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Jaehan Yi, Economics (BS)
  • Amy Zhao, Biology (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Matthew Nash, Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Gillian Sanders Schmidler, School of Medicine-Population Health Sciences|Margolis Center for Health Policy

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Lincoln Community Health Center
  • Partnership for a Healthy Durham