2020 debut challenge winners


Steven H. Krosnick (First Place) Prize: $20,000

The Onchoscope: Using Nailfold Capillaroscopy for Onchocerciasis Diagnosis
Stanford University

The Onchoscope is a low-cost microscope, for the diagnosis and monitoring of Onchocerciasis, a devastating parasitic disease that impacts over 20 million people in Central Africa. Although a drug treatment is available, the present burden of disease is still quite high and is exacerbated by inaccurate diagnostic tools which could be improved to enable earlier intervention and reduce the burden of curative treatment. The most common method of onchocerciasis diagnosis, skin snips, is invasive and highly inaccurate, with a false-negative rate of over 40%. The Onchoscope prototype uses blue light to image the nailfold capillary bed and capitalizes on the blue entoptic phenomenon to create enough contrast to identify parasitic microfilariae within capillaries. The device’s ability to directly visualize, count, and track microfilariae in the bloodstream enables it to diagnose onchocerciasis with higher sensitivity and specificity than the current standard of care and monitor parasitic load over time to target treatment.

Team Members:
Team Captain: Marissa MacAvoy
Team Members: Claire Lamadrid, Kelsie Wysong, Julia Schaepe, Clay Ellington
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ross Venook

2020 debut second place prize winner $15,000

Osmotic Concentrator for Urinary Biomarkers
University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent and the vast majority of cases occur in low- and middle-income countries. Detecting urinary lipoarabinomannan (LAM), an antigen predominantly found in people with active TB, provides an alternative mechanism for diagnosis. However, urinary LAM assays have low sensitivity due to the low concentration of LAM present in urine. This team has created a novel device that concentrates urinary LAM via osmosis, to reliably diagnose TB in low-resource, TB-endemic settings. Utilizing a spontaneous concentration process that requires minimal user effort, instruments, and reagents, the device allows for the possibility of simultaneously reconditioning the resulting specimen for downstream assays and demonstrated improved sensitivity for TB-LAM tests by osmotic urine concentration. Since the osmotic process is not specific to the LAM biomarker, it also has potential uses in processing other disease biomarkers.

Team Members:
Team Captain: Samuel (Sheng-You) Chen
Team Members: Ruby Lunde, Abe (Yuan-Che) Wu
Faculty Advisor: Dr. James Lai

2020 debut third place prize winner: $10,000

Saving Intestines at Birth: Gastroschisis Silos for Sub-Saharan Africa
Duke University

Gastroschisis is a congenital anomaly in which the intestines, primarily the small and large bowel, protrude through a defect near the umbilicus. In high-income countries (HICs), a preformed silo (a plastic bag with a semi-rigid opening) is used to protect the intestines. Over several days, the intestines can be reduced back into the abdomen. This is a highly effective treatment that leads to a mortality rate of less than 5% in HICs. However, each silo costs approximately $240—which is more than the average monthly income in several African countries—and they are inaccessible for use in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, gastroschisis mortality is greater than 90% in sub-Saharan Africa and as high as 98% in Uganda.

This team has developed a low-cost silo made from locally available materials in Uganda. With a prototype that meets all the design specifications, next steps include animal testing and the launch of an IRB-approved clinical study at Mbarara Hospital in Uganda. The silo could be utilized by pediatric surgeons there by 2022. With an effective distribution plan to hospitals and clinics, this device can substantially assist in lowering the mortality rate of neonates with gastroschisis in sub-Saharan Africa.

Team Members:
Team Captain: Arushi Biswas
Team Members: Patrick Wilson, Caroline Salzman, Nolan Burroughs, Muthukurisil Arivoli
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ann Saterbak

2020 HIV/Aids prize winner: $15,000

CytoScope: The Future of HIV Monitoring
Johns Hopkins University

CytoScope is a low-cost, Raspberry Pi-powered microscope capable of imaging blood smears and calculating CD4 Count estimates for low-income HIV/AIDS patients. CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell targeted and destroyed by the HIV/AIDS virus. Regular CD4 Counts are critical for disease monitoring and cost-effective treatment. HIV patients are recommended to have a CD4 count every 3-6 months after starting therapy and every 6-12 months if they have responded well. The current standard of flow cytometry requires specialized equipment and a complex procedure. CytoScope aims to provide low-cost CD4 count estimates for HIV/AIDS patients in low-resource settings. The device is capable of 100x magnification and has a motorized focusing mechanism with 12.5-micron precision. Two software algorithms can contrast total cell and CD4 cell placement from the original blood sample image and can calculate a CD4 cell count estimate, respectively, as well as serve as base data needed for more complex image analysis. In addition, CytoScope functions as a platform for other blood diagnostic tests, including malaria, toxocariasis, and sickle cell anemia. The team aims to distribute the CytoScope to hundreds of mobile clinics across the United States, providing accessible CD4 Count estimates for thousands of patients.

Team Members:
Team Captain: Jerry Zhang
Team Members: Alexandra Swezc, Nathan Riemann
Faculty Advisor: Professor Eileen Haase

the healthcare technologies for low-resource settings prize: $15,000

At Your Cervix – A Universal Brachytherapy Applicator for Treating Late-Stage Cervical Cancer
Rice University

Cervical cancer is the #1 cause of death from cancer in women in low-resource settings, where many cases progress to later stages, which have only a 5% survival rate. Brachytherapy, a type of aggressive radiotherapy, is the only curative treatment for late-stage cervical tumors. While effective, brachytherapy requires a high level of expertise to perform, as it relies almost entirely on the use of transcutaneous needles (long needles guided via ultrasound through skin and healthy tissue). It is a risky procedure that can cause complications and damage vital organs and nerves and is not currently accessible for use in many low-resource settings.

Team At Your Cervix has designed the Universally Friendly Obturator (UFO), a brachytherapy applicator, for use in low-resource settings, that comprehensively treats late-stage cervical cancer while increasing accessibility to treatment. The UFO is an affordable 3D-printed device that is inserted into the vaginal canal. It has channels to guide the needles that carry radiation seeds so they never touch tissue until they reach the cervix, thus eliminating the need for transcutaneous needles. With its innovative design that can be used for multiple size tumors and variations in the length of the vaginal canal, the UFO reduces patient complications, time spent in the operating room, and expertise necessary to perform the procedure.

Team Members:

Team Captain: Sanika Rane
Team Members: Elisa Arango, Susannah Dittmar, Krithika Kumar, Lauren Payne
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrea (Andi) Gobin

2020 venture prize – $15,000

Deep Learning Powered Wearable for Monitoring Focal Epilepsy Patients
Columbia University in the City of New York

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects over 65 million patients worldwide. Currently, the cycle of care for epilepsy is hamstrung by physicians’ over-reliance on inaccurate self-reported seizure counts for monitoring patients outside the clinic, especially for patients with Focal with Impaired Awareness (FIA) seizures, the most common seizure subtype. Over 73% of FIA seizures go unreported due to patient loss of consciousness and the non-convulsive presentation of this seizure type. As a result, physicians often have limited information after patients are discharged to confirm how effective the prescribed medication is in reducing seizures, leading to millions of patients experiencing a multi-year lag between initial diagnosis and optimal treatment.

To address this need the student team has designed the NeuroTrak, an outpatient solution to detect and differentiate FIA seizures. The wireless electroencephalography (EEG) wearable device continuously gathers patient data, streams this biosignal to the patient’s phone, and classifies the data in real-time. Through the proprietary residual neural network technology, Neurotrak provides substantially improved seizure monitoring than self-reporting alone, with 86% FIA seizure detection and 85% seizure differentiation accuracy. This device will enable quantitatively-informed clinician decisions to improve care for epileptic patients.

Team Members:

Team Captain: Brandon Cuevas
Team Members: Abhinav Kurada, Panagiotis Oikonomou, Juan Rodriguez
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Aaron Kyle

2020 design excellence award – $5,000

A Novel Urine Dipstick for the Detection of Acute Kidney Injury
Stanford University

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a life-threatening condition that kills 1.7M people each year. Physicians estimate that up to 80% of these AKI deaths are preventable and occur in low- to middle-income countries. Early detection of AKI is critical to minimizing its associated mortality, and patients are 5 times more likely to survive if AKI is diagnosed in Stage I vs. Stage III. This team has created a simple, rapid, non-invasive urine test for the detection of AKI that works by detecting a 6-protein panel of novel AKI biomarkers in a microfluidic device. The test has several use cases, ranging from nephrotoxicity screening in chemotherapy patients (high-income settings) to patient stratification in clinics located in low- to middle-income areas.

Team Members:
Team Captain: Demetrios Maxim
Team Members: Bowen Jiang, Myles O’Leary
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Vivek Bhalla

honorable mentions: $1,000

PneuMed: Bacterial Monitor for Life-Support Patients, Detection of Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia
The University of Texas at San Antonio
54% of US ICU patients are at risk for healthcare-associated pneumonia, making ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) the most common, costly, and deadly healthcare-associated infection among ICU life support patients. PneuMed is developing a passively operated high-fidelity bacterial monitoring device that alerts physicians of infection 24-48 hours earlier, allowing patients to receive treatment faster and reduce their length of stay in the ICU by  about 6 days.

Columbia University in the City of New York
Infertility is a common but complex problem that affects 1 in every 8 couples in the United States. ViveSense has developed a digital, at-home solution that provides an comprehensive, easily interpreted assessment of a patient’s sperm health, similar to the ovulation kits available to women.

EdgeSense: Fiducial Marker to Improve Postoperative Radiation Therapy
Johns Hopkins University
Currently, radiation oncologists rely on surgical clips inserted after a lumpectomy to delineate a tumor cavity on CT scans and determine the scope of radiotherapy. EdgeSense is developing a proprietary hydrogel-based fiducial marker that is applied to the tumor cavity after tumor removal, enabling radiation oncologists to accurately direct postoperative radiotherapy and improving the quality of life for patients.

SipClip: An Assistive Dental Device for People with Dysphagia
Duke University
Patients with neurodegenerative diseases—like Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Cerebral Palsy—as well as those who have suffered from stroke and oral cancers often struggle with an increased risk of respiratory infections, caused by aspirating foreign material into the lung. SipClip developed a suction attachment for electric toothbrushes to allow users to brush their teeth and suction liquid simultaneously to improve oral health and reduce the risk of respiratory infection.

Clemson University
One of the final steps in all craniotomies is closure of the dura, a membrane that encases the brain and spinal cord. If closure isn’t watertight, cerebrospinal fluid will leak, leading to life-threatening complications. CranioGrip, is a synthetic dural patch with a mechanical adhesion mechanism, designed specifically for dural tissue, that allows for fibroblasts to migrate into the area and facilitate healing of the native dura.

Learn more about the DEBUT Challenge.


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Read More