NIH and VentureWell announce winners of undergraduate biomedical engineering design challenge


Six innovative projects focused on improving global health won the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge. The winners showed exemplary initiative in designing tools for a myriad of healthcare challenges. DEBUT is a biomedical engineering design challenge for teams of undergraduate students, managed by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and VentureWell, a non-profit that cultivates revolutionary ideas and promising inventions. There were 52 eligible entries received from 32 institutions in 18 different states. 

The 2019 winners include:

1st place – $20,000: InTouch: An Intubation Guidance System, Columbia University
The team developed a “smart” laryngoscope blade for the novice intubist that helps them achieve accurate placement without expertise during intubation. 

2nd place – $15,000: Device to Rapidly Screen for C. Difficile, Georgia Institute of Technology
The team developed a simple, inexpensive and portable screening device which can quickly and accurately rule out C. difficile infection without the need of a laboratory or patient-provided stool samples. 

3rd place – $10,000: Humidifying and Speech Enabling Tracheostomy Attachment, Carnegie Mellon University

The team developed a device that combines the functions of both humidification and speech to allow patients to speak and reduce their mucus buildup efficiently after tracheostomies.

HIV/Aids Prize – $15,000:  ScalPal, Georgia Institute of Technology

The team developed ScalPal, new packaging for scalpel blades that is both functional and protective, eliminating injuries and reducing exposure to bloodborne diseases at every stage of use.

The Venture Prize – $15,000: The Cath Path, Stanford University

The team developed the Cath Path – a simple, assistive device to facilitate accurate and sanitary clean intermittent self-catheterization for women.

Design Excellence Award – $5,000: Axexo: The Everyday Arm Exoskeleton, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The team developed a device called Axexo: a fully-supportive, five degrees of freedom exoskeleton that can be worn under a shirt. 

The NIBIB prizes were awarded based on four criteria: the significance of the problem being addressed; the impact of the proposed solution on potential users and clinical care; the innovation of the design; and the existence of a working prototype. In selecting its prizes, VentureWell considered two additional criteria: market potential and patentability. The HIV/AIDS Prize is new for 2019, with funds from the NIH Office of Aids Research. The $80,000 in prizes will be awarded during a ceremony at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conference in October.

Congratulations to all of the awardees!

Read more about the winning teams and their innovations.


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