EAGER ISN: Unraveling illicit supply chains with a citizen science approach

Project: Research project

Project Details


Illicit supply networks by their nature do not advertise, register, or obey regulations. They avoid or circumvent enforcement activities by falsifying packaging and regulatory paperwork, changing payment and distribution pathways, shifting their location of operations, or by changing from one product to another. However, they can be traced through chemical signatures inside the products. Consider the process of making fake medicines: if the pills do not contain the correct API, they still have to contain something--typically, a cheap white powder that is easy to handle and form into pills. Tracking the active ingredients and fillers can help to identify different batches of illicit products (including street drugs) as they enter the market. In order to maximize the utility of knowledge about entry of deceptive actors into markets, we want to track the chemical composition of falsified medicines and street drugs at the post-market level in close to real time. In order to do this, we will use a new lab-on-paper tool to enable wide participation from citizen scientists. Our goal is to reveal within weeks the entry of falsified pharmaceutical products into markets in resource-constrained settings.
Effective start/end date9/1/188/31/22


  • University of Notre Dame (203496NU//CMMI-1842369)
  • National Science Foundation (203496NU//CMMI-1842369)


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