This year’s Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) challenge focused on projects that could provide a simple, low-cost modification to surgical techniques in order to reduce pain for patients. The DEBUT challenge is a biomedical engineering design prize competition for undergraduate students that awards prizes worth $65,000. This annual contest is supported through the partnerships between the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), the National Institutes of Health and VentureWell.
NIBIB selected three winning teams based on the impact of clinical care, how well the problem was addressed, innovation of the design and evidence of a working prototype. Additionally, VentureWell selected two more winners based on market potential. The prizes will be awarded in a ceremony at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society conference in Atlanta on Oct. 18.
“The designs show how fresh eyes can develop simple, low-cost solutions that can improve healthcare and it is clear that students like these are the future of biomedical engineering,” said Jill Heemskerk, Ph.D., acting director of NIBIB.
First Place: Radiex: A minimally invasive brain retractor for deep-seated lesions, Johns Hopkins University
Created by: Muna Igboko, Jody Mou, Linh Tran, Kevin Tu, Jack Ye, Sun Jay Yoo
This winning project encompassed a minimally invasive brain retractor known as Radiex to provide safer surgical access to the brain. Currently, in nine percent of neurosurgical operations the retractor causes unintentional damage to the brain. The Radiex has a rounded design that distributes forces around a circular opening. The small diameter accommodates minimally invasive surgeries and limits damage to the brain.
Second Place: The Voyager: A tibial resection tissue protector, Clemson University
Created by: Colin Fair, Mina Gad, Alex Giron, Nick Matel, Tusharbhai Patel
This device helps in the resection of the tibia, which reduces complications of vein and ligament damage during total knee replacement procedures. It also allows for complete resection of the tibia without any other tools or technicians needed. This can speed up the procedure and make it easier for surgeons.
Third Place: Neuraline: A procedure to help facilitate the placement of epidural anesthesia during labor and delivery, Georgia Institute of Technology
Created by: Alec Bills, Dev Mandavia, Lucas Miller, Cassidy Wang
The Neuraline was developed to help ensure the placement of the epidural anesthesia during labor and delivery is correct. Currently, the epidural insertion requires the technician to feel a loss of resistance in order to identify the correct epidural space in the spine. The loss of resistance can vary depending on the patient and skill of technician. One in eight attempts at this procedure results in complications. The Neuraline provides an objective measure of bioimpedance—the resistance different tissues have to electricity—which will alert the technician to the needle’s location once it has reached the correct epidural space.
Venture Prize: Concentracizor 4 (C4): a gyroscopic screw guide for long bone fracture fixation, Clemson University
Created by: Ian DeMass, Kaleb Guion, Bennett Hardymon, Andrew Moore, Casey Young
The Concentracizor 4 (C4) was designed to help guide surgeons when they place orthopedic screws to set and repair broken bones. If a screw is misaligned with the hole that was drilled, it can lead to further surgery and elongated pain. C4 is a device that uses gyroscopes to record the drilling alignment and guide the surgeon back to the proper angle using LED lights.
Design Excellence Prize: The Talaria Ankle Brace: A magnetic ankle brace for support, University of California, Riverside
Created by: David Montes, Dana Pinon, Jessica Sii, Timothy Yadegar
The Talaria is a magnetic ankle brace that provides personalized support using sensors. These sensors detect when the ankle has gone past its natural threshold. Initially, the device is personally calibrated to each user’s range of motion and employs magnetorheological fluid to support the ankle as needed. This could decrease recovery time and prevent further injuries.