Big Ideas Come from University Students

Heather Thompson

July 1, 2009

3 Min Read
Big Ideas Come from University Students


Top honors in the 2009 Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship Award (BMEidea) competition--a national competition celebrating student biomedical innovation--were announced yesterday during the Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) ceremony. The BMEidea is sponsored and organized by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA; Hadley, MA).

First place: Lab-on-a-Stick

Winning first place, with a cash award of $10,000 was the Lab-on-a-Stick, from Stanford University. The device is a lab-free method that provides rapid diagnoses of infectious diseases. It employs nanotechnology in protein etection platforms enabling rapif diagnostics at the patient's bedise, in the developing world, and even with over-the-counter produts. Lab-on-a-Stick uses Giant magnetoresistive (GMR) devices to detect virtually any infectious disease--from HIV/AIDS to Hepatitis C to tuberculosis--in a rapid wash-free format. Patients in need of a rapid diagnosis (results are available in an average of fifteen minutes) need only to swab the insides of their cheeks with a disposable "stick," pre-treated with assorted protein receptors, and scan that stick with the handheld GMR device. This technology, estimated to retail at approximately $1 - $5, addresses the need for more accessible nanotechnology diagnostics outside the laboratory, and seeks to replace the need for diagnostic labs completely.

Second place: The SurgiSIL

In second place, winning $2500, is Single Port solutions: The SurgiSIL, developed by students at the University of Cincinnati. The SurgiSIL is a tool for managing laparoscopic surgical instruments through a single incision. Traditional laparoscopic surgical procedures, though minimally invasive, still require several "port" sites with an average of four to five incisions. Multiple incisions may increase trauma, recovery time, and visible scarring. Inspired by a simple spice jar, the SurgiSIL, an apparatus that can hold multiple laparoscopic tools that rotate into position as needed. The tool allows surgeons to perform procedures within a single incision in the belly button. Use of the SurgiSIL will not only decrease trauma and recovery time for patients, but it will also enable the single scar to be hidden in a virtually unnoticeable location--the belly button.

Third place: A biosensor to measure vitamin D levels in serum

The third-prize winners are from Brown University. They receive $1000 for their biosensor to measure vitamin D levels in serum. Current research has linked vitamin D deficiencies to a number of health conditions, including osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases and cancer. However, although the demand for vitamin D testing has grown, current tests are expensive, take too long, and are often inaccurate. The team has proposed a method of measuring vitamin D using electrochemical detection technology similar to a commercial glucose meter. The affordable, hand-held apparatus can use a disposable testing strip that is inserted into the device along with a sub-microliter sample, which is analyzed for levels of vitamin D present. Results are displayed qualitatively and quantitatively on a liquid crystal display.

For more information about the BMEidea competition, visit the NCIIA Web site at

Copyright ©2009 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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