Skip to Content


Team Members:
  • Jacqueline Lanzaro
  • Emily Chang
  • Erika Bhadra
  • Siddharth Arun
  • Valerie Zawicki
  • Kevin Gorman
  • Helen Rossmiller
  • Pranavi Pallinti
  • Elizabeth Logsdon, PhD
  • Chi Chiung Grace Chen, MD, MHS
  • Laura Keyser, DPT, MPH
  • Namratha Potharaj
  • Tom Benassi
  • Soumyadipta Acharya, MD, MSE, PhD
  • Bailey Surtees


Over two million women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia suffer from the debilitating effects of an obstetric fistula. This abnormal hole that develops between the genital and urinary tracts is the result of prolonged, obstructed labor with the absence of timely effective medical care. The primary symptom of an obstetric fistula is the constant leakage of urine from the vaginal canal. While urinary incontinence has many physical effects such as odor, skin irritation, infection, secondary infertility, and even nerve damage, this condition extends far beyond physical effects. These women are unable to perform daily life tasks, are ostracized by their families and society, and often have increased rates of depression and even suicide. Within recent years, obstetric fistulas have become a focus point of global health efforts, revolving around three major themes: prevention, treatment, and management of symptoms. Most organizations are currently focused solely on the front end, dedicating time and money in efforts to raise awareness, educate populations, and collect funds for surgical treatment. However, while these organizations attack the problem from the source, they fail to address the lasting physical, social, and mental effects of an obstetric fistula. Simply closing the hole is not enough. Our team, following an insight informed innovation model, is designing a solution with a specific need in mind: Women with obstetric fistulas in low resource settings need a method to minimize uncontrolled urine flow to alleviate social distress caused by physical symptoms. While we hope that we can live in a world one day where obstetric fistulas no longer exist, for now we are dedicated to easing the burden of this devastating condition.

Read the Johns Hopkins University privacy statement here.