HOW WE GOT STARTED
SSI was founded in September of 1998 in San Francisco, California. In 2004, SSI incorporated in Managua, Nicaragua and in 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. However, SSI really got its start back in 1988, when the Applied Molecular Biology/Appropriate Technology Transfer Program (AMB/ATT) was first conceived.
The AMB/ATT program was coordinated by a group of like-minded scientists who developed formed alliances with colleagues in the United States and abroad who were interested in building scientific and public health capability in developing countries. This group of young researchers craved the chance to teach and apply their scientific knowledge in a way that would make a concrete difference in the lives of developing- country residents. For 10 years, they did so through the AMB/ATT program, by donating their time and seeking small grants and individual donations. Through conducting customized training workshops and simplifying technologies onsite, they taught molecular biology-based disease diagnosis, epidemiology, and control of infectious diseases to public health researchers and educators in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Guatemala. They also channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of donated laboratory equipment, supplies, and reagents to Latin American researchers and institutions. Importantly, they formed lasting partnerships with many trainees, which have been crucial to sustaining the initial mission over time.
In 1997, Eva Harris, SSI’s current President, was awarded a MacArthur Genius Fellowship for this work. Initial and ongoing funding from the Ibrahim El-Hefni Technical Training Foundation and the MacArthur award, along with support from small foundations, family, and friends, led to the founding of SSI a year later.