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Social Entrepreneurship To Spur Health (SESH)

Our mission is to design more effective, equitable, and creative health services using crowdsourcing contests.

The SESH (Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health) project is a partnership joining individuals from the Southern Medical University Dermatology Hospital and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The main goal of SESH is to create more effective, equitable, and creative health services using crowdsourcing contests and other social entrepreneurship tools. Crowdsourcing is the process of having a group solve a problem and then sharing that solution widely with the public.


The SESH team is excited about crowdsourcing challenges in which an open call is used to solicit innovative responses from local individuals. Our team conducts research, training, and services related to crowdsourcing challenges. The SESH team organized four randomized controlled trials evaluating crowdsourcing approaches to improve health outcomes in China (NCT02796963, NCT02248558, NCT02516930, NCT03482388). The team organizes an annual training workshop in Guangzhou focused on crowdsourcing and sexual health. Finally, the team leads and serves as a partner on many crowdsourcing challenge contests.


WHO/TDR SIHI practical guide

In 2017, we worked with the SIHI team to develop a practical guide on crowdsourcing challenges for health and health research. This guide was field tested in several countries and will be launched at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in July 2018.

Annual training workshop

Over the past five years, our team has organized an annual training course for those interested in STD research, especially junior investigators. During the past three years, this has training workshop has had a special focus on building capacity for crowdsourcing challenges.

Healthy Cities in China contests

In collaboration with the Tsinghua-Lancet Commission on Healthy Cities in China, we organized a challenge contest to solicit perspectives on Chinese healthy cities from the public. 449 submissions were received and exceptional submissions were widely shared through open access networks.

Hepatitis testing contest

In collaboration with the WHO Global Hepatitis Programme, we issued an open call for innovative strategies to promote hepatitis B and C testing. The challenge identified 64 entries from 27 countries; 16 entries were deemed strong enough to be included in the 2017 WHO Global Hepatitis Testing Guidelines.

HIV testing contest

In collaboration with eight local public health agencies, we organized a series of challenge contests to develop an innovative HIV testing service. The resulting crowd feedback generated a powerful approach that was demonstrated to be effective in a stepped wedge randomized controlled trial.


We have partnered with several other organizations to collaboratively develop crowdsourcing challenge contests. This includes challenge contests on antimicrobial resistance, women’s leadership in global health, gay-friendly health services, and community engagement in research.



Joseph (MD, PhD, AM) is Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Chair of the SESH Advisory Committee.

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Joe is the study principal investigator on two United States National Institutes of Health R01 grants that evaluate crowdsourcing to enhance HIV services. He has implemented over 30 crowdsourcing challenge contests and has a special interest in collective intelligence and crowdsourcing. He has helped to organize crowdsourcing contests in China, Thailand, Vietnam, the United States, Australia, South Africa, and globally. He helped with the SIHI practical guide and the ongoing spurring social innovation through crowdsourcing projects from TDR global.


Weimaing (MD, PhD) is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a member of the SESH Advisory Committee.

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Weiming currently leads one grant from the UNC Center for AIDS Research evaluating crowdsourcing approaches to HIV self-testing. He manages several large crowdsourcing projects in China now and has a special interest in epidemiology and evaluation. He serves as Assistant Director at UNC Project-China and mentors undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows interested in challenge contests.


Shufang (BA, MA) is the Communications Director at SESH. She started working on the team in 2016 and has developed communications strategies for over twenty challenge contests.

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Shufang has extensive experience with social media and strategic communication. She helps to liaise with the local community and disseminate our findings widely through social media. She is helping to develop the ongoing spurring social innovation through crowdsourcing projects from TDR global.


Larry (MA, BS) is an MPhil student at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and Director of Strategy at SESH. He was previously a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University.

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Larry helped to develop and evaluate one of the first crowdsourcing challenges that solicited videos promoting HIV testing in China. He has a special interest in statistics and finance. He led the development of the SIHI practical guide.