Originally Published MDDI July 2005
|The Embolune treats cerebral aneurysms.|
A balloon for aneurysms, a probe for measuring bioimpedance, and a redesigned cervical spine brace: three new innovative devices have just been developed—but not by medical device companies. The devices are the winning results of a new biomedical engineering competition designed to encourage student invention and innovation.
The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (Hadley, MA) recently held its first competition for biomedical engineering. The Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship Award (BME IDEA) winners came from some of the top universities in the United States and possess expertise from several disciplines outside of bioengineering.
“Before this, there were no national competitions for biomedical engineers,” says Jay Goldberg, director of the Healthcare Technologies Management Program at Marquette University (Milwaukee). Goldberg and Phil Weilerstein of the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance created the award.
Applicants were instructed to create a medical device that met four criteria. The device had to solve a pressing clinical problem. The device had to meet technical, economic, legal, and regulatory requirements. It also had to feature a novel and practical design and show potential for commercialization. Entrants were encouraged to draw members from any discipline, but teams had to have at least one engineer.
The winners were announced on June 14, 2005, at the MD&M East Conference and Exposition in New York City.
“I was impressed with the quality of the submissions,” says Goldberg. “They contained all the components that a venture firm would look for.”
First place went to MedGen, a team from Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA). MedGen developed a microporous balloon device to address the need for a lower-risk cerebral aneurysm treatment. The team (Pete Johnson, Amy Lee, Neema Hekmat, Lipkong Yap, and Jason Buelow) calls its device the Embolune. It has a new balloon detachment method to facilitate treatment. The team has also developed a novel method for safely depositing a hardening polymer material into the aneurysm space. The method creates a permanent clot that prevents the aneurysm from further growth. The group's faculty advisor is Paul G. Yock. MedGen received a $10,000 cash prize.
Entrants from The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) took second place and an award of $2500. The Johns Hopkins team created a probe to measure bioimpedance. Detecting bioimpedance enables physicians to predict impending preterm labor at the tissue level. Yen Shi Gillian Hoe, Alex Hui, Ashkon Shaahinfar, Somponnat Sampattavanich, Sudhir Khetan, Sarah Bidula, Kartik Trehan, and George Xu are the team members. Robert Allen serves as faculty advisor.
Third place was awarded to a group from Washington University (St. Louis). The group submitted an improved design for a Halo device for cervical spine healing. The team, including Stuart Rosenberg, Laura Seger, and Elizabeth Tran, offered a new design that uses a single arm attached to a harness, similar to a backpack.
The structure immobilizes the cervical spine but reduces the profile of the apparatus. It also enables easier access to the head and neck. With this new design, patients can wear normal clothing and sleep comfortably. The patient and the physician have safer access to the airway and chest. The faculty advisor was Joseph Klaesner, and other advisors included Guy Genin, PhD; Eric Leuthardt, MD; and Dennis Rivet, MD. The Washington University team received $1000.
The jurors for the competition came from varied backgrounds to offer expertise. Jurors included Eliot Lazar, MD, of ElCon Medical (Buffalo, NY); Tor Alden of HS Design Inc. (Gladstone, NJ); Ken Solomon with Thompson Coburn LLP (St. Louis); Dan Broderick from Mason Wells Venture Funds (Milwaukee); and Tim Matheson of Baird Venture Partners (Madison, WI).
The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, MD&DI, the National Science Foundation, and the Industrial Designers Society of America sponsored the competition in partnership with the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Council of Chairs of Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering Programs. For more information on the competition, visit the alliance's Web site at www.nciia.com.
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