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Biodesign team showcasing work

Biodesign showcases student health technology projects

Stanford Biodesign students showcased their projects at a recent event on campus. Winning projects include a test to screen blood donations for hepatitis B and a treatment that can reduce ankle swelling.

Last week, 13 student-developed medical devices and diagnostics were on display at Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign’s second annual Health Technology Showcase. The projects addressed a wide range of health care needs from improving asthma medication compliance to delivering a better prosthetic fit for amputees.

The projects were developed during hands-on courses designed to help prepare students for job opportunities.

“We launched the Health Technology Showcase to celebrate the innovative work of our student teams. But it’s also a fantastic way to nurture the on-campus community of people interested in improving health care through technology innovation, and to inspire more students interested in the intersection of medicine and engineering to get involved,” said Lyn Denend, Stanford Biodesign’s director of academic programs and a lecturer with Stanford Medicine.

At the showcase, a panel of health care industry experts offered critical feedback to help student teams improve their projects. They also awarded prizes. The “Best Need” award went to GLMP Labs, a team of senior undergraduate students from the Bioengineering Senior Capstone Design course.

GLMP Labs is working on a way to increase blood donation screening in low-and-middle-income countries such as India to reduce transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs). After learning that less than half of the blood donated in India is tested for TTIs, the team developed a simple, inexpensive test that can be used immediately following blood donation to screen for the most common TTI, hepatitis B.

Next, the GLMP Labs team intends to refine their prototype to increase ease-of-use, improve the sensitivity and specificity of test results, and meet with health care workers in India to explore pilot testing and adoption strategies.

The “Best Solution” winner was SwellStop, a team of medical, engineering, and business students from the graduate-level Biodesign Innovation course. The team discovered that the swelling associated with ankle fractures delays the surgeon’s ability to operate. The delay can cause serious complications, including wound reopening and bone infection. The team developed a pressure-based treatment that reduces swelling, leading to better patient outcomes, fewer complications, and a 2 to 3 month reduction in patient recovery time.

The SwellStop team plans to continue refining their prototype and conduct preclinical testing in preparation for using the device on patients.

All of the showcase teams applied for, and were awarded, extension funding, made possible by donors who believe in extending the learning experience and giving student teams more time to determine whether their early-stage solutions have the potential to make it into patient care.

“It’s great to have project-based courses generating interesting technologies,” said Denend. “But it’s even better to have the mechanisms in place — funding, mentorship, and other resources — to help motivated teams work on their projects beyond the academic year.”

Photo of SwellStop team members by Lyn Denend

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