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Stanford medical student helps design new device to treat burn wounds

When I recently asked Stanford medical student Kimberly Souza whether there were any patients in her research study on burns that she remembered well, she smiled and immediately started scrolling through photos on her phone.

"There was this cutest little boy," she said, showing me a photo of a smiling Nepalese boy stretching out little arms covered with old burn wounds. "I met him when he was 4. His arms were burned and both hands. When he was 2 years old he was walking in his mom's shoes and tripped and fell in the fire where she was cooking."

The boy was a participant in a trial run by Souza that tested a medical device now called the HandHero, a $20 retractable hand splint that she and her colleague Jana Lim, a Stanford PhD student, developed. The device is designed to prevent contracture of the fingers of post-surgery burn patients, and the two now hope to market it to nonprofit health care agencies.

Souza was one of about 50 participants at last week's Stanford Medical Student Research Symposium, and one of two students that I wrote about in a recent article. For these projects, most of which are funded by the school's MedScholars research program, the students are each assigned a faculty advisor who mentors them and helps direct their work. Most of the research is conducted between classes and during the summer months, but some students, like Souza, take an entire year off to dedicate to their projects.

During the event Souza, whose poster was selected as one of ten winners by a group of faculty and staff judges, explained her passion for the project: "I’ve always had an inclination toward global health. There’s such a huge disparity globally. I believe health care is a human right."

Previously: Medical students explore the wide wide world of research at annual Stanford symposium, Contemporary health issues focus of Stanford med students research presentation, As part of annual tradition, budding physician-scientists display their work and New class of physician-scientists showcase research
Photo by Paul Sakuma

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