Giffin Daughtridge smiling head shot for profile.

Giffin Daughtridge: Vaccinating the Vulnerable

When reflecting on his experiences in Colombia, Giffin stated that “the Fulbright program launched a passion in me to protect high-risk populations from infectious disease.” His passion has led him to create a company called UrSure, Inc., which utilizes a new and easier method to test a patient's adherence to HIV prevention medication.

After completing his undergraduate degrees in Biology and Spanish at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Giffin Daughtridge set off to Bogota, Colombia as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. In Colombia, he collaborated with the Bogota Secretary of Health and the Fundación Fénix to create a Hepatitis B vaccination program. This program vaccinated almost 200 female and transsexual health workers in Bogotá. Giffin wrote that “the Fulbright program launched a passion in me to protect high-risk populations from infectious disease.” His work developing a vaccination program led him to the realization that although we have a lot of advanced preventative medicine, preventative care often does not reach the vulnerable populations that need it most. When he returned to the U.S., he kept this realization in mind, and began to search for a way to advance vaccination programs for vulnerable populations in the U.S.

In 2012, he worked with Dr. Helen Koenig, an infectious disease physician, to develop an HIV prevention program for HIV negative high-risk youth in Philadelphia, which led to a groundbreaking innovation. His program prescribed patients an HIV preventive medication known as PrEP, which is highly effective at preventing HIV if the medication is taken daily. To monitor patients’ adherence, the only known method at the time was a blood test. Giffin and Dr. Koenig, in collaboration with a lab group at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia developed a urine test that could detect how recently a patient had taken their PrEP medication. They believe that “by monitoring adherence with this patient friendly, painless and noninvasive test, we empowered our doctors to better care for their high-risk patients, and we found that adherence levels to PrEP in our patients were twice the national average.” This new method has been validated in multiple patient cohorts and holds promising results for the future.

After realizing the tremendous impact this could have on HIV Prevention, Giffin co-founded a company called UrSure, Inc. with Dr. Koenig to continue working on this new HIV prevention method. Through UrSure, Giffin plans to create a point of care model where doctors can test patients’ urine on site, instead of sending samples to the lab for testing. Within the next twelve months, Giffin hopes to complete development of the point of care test. Giffin entered UrSure, Inc. into the Harvard Business School's New Venture Competition on the Social Enterprise Track, and he won the $50,000 grand prize for his business proposal. While working on UrSure, Inc. to revolutionize the world of HIV prevention, Giffin is also currently pursuing a Masters of Public Policy at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government as a Zuckerman Fellow and a Medical Degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.