Helen Lee has dedicated her whole life to research in diagnostics. She has bestowed this world with wonderful inventions that help detect infectious diseases like Hepatitis-B, Covid-19, HIV, etc. to save millions of lives around the world.
She is the inventor of an instant blood diagnostic kit known as SAMBA (Simple Amplification Based Assay) that makes on-the-spot detection of infectious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis-B, and chlamydia possible.
The test kit is designed specifically for the African continent where 69% of the world’s HIV-positive peoples live. It can be stored up to 37°C for nine months and requires no trained personnel. SAMBA can detect the presence of the virus and viral load within minutes visible to the naked eye–no relying on costly microscopes. SAMBA runs on electricity but can function on batteries for eight hours.
Also, as it detects viruses directly from blood and not antibodies, it is instrumental in detecting HIV in infants that have not yet developed antibodies. 91% of the world’s HIV-positive children live in Africa make her invention more instrumental in saving the life of infants.
Lee’s rapid diagnostic kit has an enormous impact on infectious disease management. By 2016, SAMBA diagnostic kit screened 40 000 people for HIV in Malawi and Uganda. During the Covid-19 Pandemics, the diagnostic kit SAMBA has been repurposed as SAMBA II for detecting the COVID-19 virus
Lee won the European Inventor Award in 2016 under the Popular Prize category and received more than 36300 votes. Below is a list of honors and awards Lee has received. Followed by it is a quick snapshot of her patent portfolio.
Helen Lee’s – Awards and Honors
- 2016 European Inventor Award
- 2007 Tech Museum of Innovation Award
- 2007 Asian Women of Achievement Award
- 2006 European Women of Achievement Award
- 2006 British Female Inventor in Industry Award
- 2005 Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Award (British Foundation for Science & Technology)
- 2003 Best Diagnostic Innovation Award (Medical Futures Innovation Competition)
- 1994 Finalist, YWCA Women of Achievement Award
- 1991 The Phoenix Award (Abbott Laboratories)
- 1988 The Entrepreneurial Award (Abbott Laboratories)
- 1970 Who’s Who of American Men in Science
- 1967 National Honor Society of Sigma Xi
Helen Lee’s Patents
Helen Lee’s patent portfolio has 167 patents that belong to 36 unique patent families. The below exhibits highlight the key statistics of her patent portfolio.
Helen Lee Patents – Technology Distribution
The patent count in the exhibit below is calculated by including only one patent from each patent family. A patent family can have multiple patent documents – filed globally or in a single country – covering a single invention.
Legal Status (Alive/Dead)
The exhibits below distribute Helen Lee’s patents into active and inactive categories which are further divided into total, application, and granted parts.
Country Wise Patent Filing
The patent count in the exhibit below is calculated by including each family member of a patent family. A patent family can have multiple patent documents – filed globally or in a single country – covering a single invention.
An Interesting Fact
One patent that stands out in Helen Lee’s portfolio is US6521747B2. It has been cited 60 times by companies like BioArray Solutions Ltd, Bethesda Pharmaceuticals Inc, and N4 Pharma. The patent has family members in countries like the United States and Australia.
If a patent is cited by a lot of other patents, it implies that the technology is being followed and incrementally innovated. This indicates the importance of a patent. Furthermore, it also indicates that citing companies are working on similar or closely related technologies.