Google Science Fair Winner Develops Fast, Cheap Ebola Test

Seventeen-year-old Science Fair Winner develops a $25, fast, easy test for Ebola infections based on silkworm fibre.

Although the Ebola epidemic seems to be dying down, it is still very important to have a test which is easy to use and can be used in the field. This year’s Google Science Fair winner, 17-year-old Olivia Hallisey, a sophomore at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, has done just that, earning her fame and a scholarship.

As she wrote in her proposal, early diagnosis is critical both in treatment and to prevent a new epidemic.

She also wrote about other potential applications, saying, “ELISA-based diagnostic for other diseases including HIV, Lyme Disease, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever and certain cancers, was prompted by the devastating loss of life in Africa during the most recent 2014 Ebola outbreak. The consequences will be far-reaching; the concentration of fatalities in stricken areas has left many children orphaned, and the socioeconomic fabric of entire villages destroyed.”

new inexpensive ebola test.
17year-old Olivia Hallisey’s new inexpensive ebola test.

“School closures have impacted over five million children, risking permanent educational dislocation and high risk behaviors such as child labor.”

“Winning [the google Science Fair] would enable me to continue to develop my Ebola Assay Card as a multiple disease diagnostic assay, and to make a meaningful impact on global health through the early detection of often fatal diseases. I would know that my research saved lives and changed futures.”

Her creation, made with advice from numerous medical researchers, uses a few drops of human fluid applied to a test paper similar to pregnancy tests and can detect Ebola antigens in 30 minutes at an individual cost of $25.


Current tests require laboratory conditions and continuous refrigeration of samples, a difficult problem in a hot third-world country which results in delayed treatment and isolation of patients.

The winner of the Google prize receives a $50,000 scholarship for her entry, “TEMPERATURE-INDEPENDENT, PORTABLE, AND RAPID FIELD DETECTION OF EBOLA VIA A SILK-DERIVED LATERAL-FLOW SYSTEM.”

Ebola test.
Ebola Test.