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  • Fri, March 28, 2014 5:05 PM | Rice 360° (Administrator)

    Wright State team wins global health design competition

    Jimma Institute team places with long-distance presentation from Ethiopia

    Wright State University’s Team Digital X-Ray took top honors in the 2014 National Undergraduate Global Health Technology Design Competition held at Rice University March 28 with its innovative approach to digitally capturing X-rays. The team captured first place in the  annual competition with a low-cost device that used off-the-shelf components and alleviated the need for hospitals in the developing world to purchase costly film, chemicals and other supplies.

    Bioengineering's Maria Oden (left), co-director of Rice's Beyond Traditional Borders program, meets with Wright State University's Team Digital X-Ray -- Amena Shermadou, Katherine Gamber, Megan Markl and Luke Stork -- and the team's faculty adviser, Thomas Hangartner, distinguished professor of biomedical engineering, medicine and physics and chair of the Department of Biomedical, Industrial and Human Factors Engineering at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Credit: Wright State University

    The competition, which is sponsored by Rice 360° Institute for Global Health Technologies and Beyond Traditional Borders, grew by more than 30 percent this year and drew 35 teams, including nine from Rice and five from the Jimma Institute of Technology (JIT) at Ethiopia’s Jimma University. Twenty-three teams from 18 universities participated in the final round of competition.

    Second prize went to Team Cervical Cancer Screening Simulator from the University of Michigan for a device to help train clinical practitioners in the proper way to screen patients for cervical cancer using a common test called VIA. About 84 percent of cervical cancer cases occur in the developing world, and it has been estimated that properly conducted VIA tests could save millions of lives.

    JIT’s Team Maranatha undefined which competed with a prerecorded presentation from Ethiopia undefined took third prize with its clever yet simple device for alerting practitioners about an overflowing suction pump undefined a serious situation in developing-world hospitals that often lack backup pumps. The award marked the first time that a team has placed in the competition via a long-distance submission, and conference organizers said they hope the win will spur international interest.

    “It is especially exciting to have the continued participation of teams from JIT, which first competed last year with two teams,” said competition organizer Veronica Leautaud, director of education for Rice’s Beyond Traditional Borders program. “Their participation is leading the way for us to expand the event to include more international teams in the future. The JIT teams offered everyone a glimpse into solutions that are being developed locally in Africa, and that’s something we’d like to feature more.”

    Teams were judged on how clearly they articulated the global health needs that their technology sought to address. They were also scored on the technical and social feasibility of their proposed solutions, and judges also considered the team’s plans for overcoming technical and social hurdles. Each team was given six minutes to present its design. Jimma teams competed via pre-recorded videos and answered judges’ questions live via Skype. A live broadcast at JIT’s Presidents Auditorium also allowed students in Ethiopia to view the competition and awards ceremony in real time.

    “All the judges for the competition are drawn from outside of Rice,” Leautaud said. “This year we had 15 clinicians, engineers and researchers from across the Texas Medical Center, the University of Houston and Texas State University at San Marcos. We also had global health clinicians from Austin and Frisco, Texas, and one judge from the U.S. Agency for International Development.”

    Leautaud said there were also five judges from the diagnostic and biomedical device industry, including representatives from companies and nonprofits such as D-Rev, PATH and Becton Dickinson, which have a strong track record in global health.

    The keynote address, “Congratulations, Your Prototype Works! Now What?”, was delivered by Randy Schwemmin, director of technical operations at San Francisco-based nonprofit D-Rev. D-Rev delivers products to improve the health and increase the income of people who live on less than $4 a day. Schwemmin offered insights about how the student-designers could take the next step in getting their products into widespread use.

    The best poster award went to Rice’s own Team ResVolution for its smartphone-based multispectral and panoramic microscope. The people’s choice award went to the University of Wisconsin’s Team Algo Cerv for its innovative app to interpret cervical cancer biopsies.


    - See more at:
  • Thu, May 02, 2013 4:47 PM | Rice 360° (Administrator)

    May 2, 2013

    The latest student invention from Rice University’s award-winning engineering design program undefined a set of intravenous tubing that could slash IV-related infections undefined looks so simple. But looks can be deceiving.

    The four graduating seniors who created the EZ Flush IV tubing set spent hundreds of hours creating an elegant solution to a major health care problem in the developing world: Most hospitals there cannot afford the prefilled saline syringes that nurses in developed countries routinely use to flush IV lines.

    Regular flushing prevents infections from forming around the IV catheter, a thin, flexible tube that stays inside the patient’s arm. Infections from catheters can be deadly, and the rate of these infections is much higher in developing countries.

    Smooth Saline team members Becky Zaunbrecher, Lindsay Miller, Jessica Williams and Kathleen Wiest are each slated to graduate May 11 with degrees in bioengineering. Prior to teaming up last fall at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), all four had taken courses in global health, and three had spent a summer abroad testing innovative medical designs in the developing world as part of Rice’s award-winning, hands-on engineering education program Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB).

    Smooth Saline team member Lindsay Miller explains the EZ Flush design to Rice University Representative Y. Ping Sun at Rice's annual Engineering Design Showcase.

    “Ours is pretty unique in terms of a global health project because ours was actually pitched by Becton/Dickenson, a medical device company in the United States,” Wiest said. “BD sells prefilled saline syringes in the United States and around the world, and they asked us to create a new design that would be more affordable for developing countries.”

    Smooth Saline’s ingenious solution would allow a nurse in a low-resource hospital to regularly flush IV lines using sterile saline from a patient’s IV bag. All that’s required is a set of IV tubing that contains three tiny clamps, about six inches of extra tubing and a tiny plastic pouch about the size of a ketchup packet. To flush an IV catheter, a nurse simply clamps off the IV line leading to the patient’s arm, redirects a few milliliters of sterile saline from the IV bag into the pouch, opens one clamp, closes another and then squeezes the saline from the pouch through the catheter.

    “If we add up the features of our prototype, it costs us about $2.50 to manufacture the whole thing,” Williams said. “But we’re using slightly more expensive parts since we don’t buy them in bundles of 5 million like an IV tubing manufacturer would.”

    Smooth Saline team members Becky Zaunbrecher and Jessica Williams test some prototypes to determine if the seals are watertight.

    With economies of scale, Smooth Saline estimates the design will add less than $1 to the cost of producing a set of IV tubing. Because each set can be used for about two dozen flushes, the per-flush cost of adding the feature is around 4 cents.

    The EZ Flush design earned Smooth Saline the top prize in Rice 360°’s Undergraduate Global Health Technology Design Competition as well as first prize in Rice’s annual Undergraduate Elevator Pitch Competition. The simplicity of the award-winning design is worthy of a team with such terrific chemistry that the members often finish one another’s sentences. But arriving at the design was far from easy.

    “It was very iterative,” Miller said. ” We didn’t start out with our end prototype in mind.”

    “We didn’t start anywhere near that,” Williams said. “We started with a Windex bottle or maybe like a Nerf-gun type thing.”

    “We had a lot of crazy ideas to start with,” Zaunbrecher said.

    Some of the crazy ideas had to do with producing saline. The team knew it would be expensive to ship, so they toyed with lots of notions about producing it on site.

    Smooth Saline team members (from left) Jessica Williams, Kathleen Wiest, Lindsay Miller and Becky Zaunbrecher.

    “At a certain point, we were talking about making giant vats of saline, and we realized it was just NOT feasible to expect doctors or nurses to do that,” Williams said.

    Smooth Saline credits their OEDK advisers undefined bioengineering faculty members Ann Saterbak and Maria Oden undefined with directing them toward the more practical option of using what was already available.

    “They already have IV bags at all hospitals and clinics,” Miller said. “The biggest decision we made was to take advantage of the saline that was already there, and that’s what led us to design this IV tubing set.”

    But that too was a challenge. In fact, most of their initial ideas about how to get the saline from the bags were also overly complex.

    “As we were drawing out our ideas, we were literally drawing tubing sets without realizing that we were drawing them,” Wiest said. “We were coming up with these ideas of connecting something between an IV bag and a patient, and it didn’t dawn on us until …”

    “… after we had designed it, and someone phrased it to us differently,” Zaunbrecher continued. “And we were like, ‘Oh, wow. It really is just an IV tubing set with something added on.’ It was a big breakthrough day because we realized that was how we could market it and sell it, and it would just make it much more accessible and usable by nurses.”

    All four members of Smooth Saline credit BTB and Rice’s global health program with permanently changing their lives. Williams is joining the Peace Corps in June, and Wiest decided to become a doctor rather than an engineer and to practice medicine in the developing world.

    “I don’t plan on directly pursing global health, but it’s definitely changed my outlook on health technologies,” said Zaunbrecher, who, like Miller, plans to attend graduate school in bioengineering. “It will definitely always stay with me … the importance of keeping health technologies accessible to everyone and just helping the overall health of the planet and not just a small subset of the people who can afford something.”

  • Wed, May 01, 2013 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Rice U. professors share Lemelson-MIT award, donate prize money

    Richards-Kortum, Oden give their $100,000 prize to Malawi hospital for new nursery


    HOUSTON -- (May 1, 2013) -- Rice University bioengineering professors Rebecca Richards-Kortum and Maria Oden, the winners of the 2013 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation, are donating their prize money toward the construction of a new neonatal ward at the African hospital that has helped implement Rice's low-cost, student-designed health care technologies since 2007.

    The Lemelson-MIT Program today announced that Oden and Richards-Kortum won the prestigious award in honor of their life-saving inventions and pioneering efforts to inspire and lead Rice students to invent and deliver low-cost technological innovations to improve health care for people in developing nations.

    "When Maria and I learned we had won this award, we both knew exactly how we wanted to use the prize money," Richards-Kortum said. "Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre (Malawi) is an extraordinary place that is committed to caring for the world's most vulnerable patients. The physicians there have shown us how simple innovations can dramatically improve neonatal health, and they've inspired us to engage our students in solving the challenges of newborn care in low-resource settings."

    Oden and Richards-Kortum are two of the driving forces behind the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health Technologies and Rice 360°'s award-winning, hands-on engineering education program Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB). BTB is an engineering-design program founded in 2006 with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. More than 10 percent of Rice undergraduates -- including many non-engineering students -- have participated in BTB, which has produced 58 low-cost health technologies, including two that are already being broadly distributed by national health authorities in the developing world.

    "Each year, more than 3 million babies die within the first month of life," Oden said. "Ninety-nine percent of those deaths happen in the developing world, and many of them could be prevented if hospitals in low-income countries had access to a few low-cost technologies that combat the most common causes of infant mortality."

    Oden and Richards-Kortum said the new QECH nursery will provide excellent care for newborns and serve as an innovation hub for the design, evaluation and implementation of Rice 360°'s Day One Project, an ambitious $375,000 effort to improve the lives of newborns in the developing world from the day they are born. Through the Day One Project, Rice 360° aims to create a collection of low-cost, neonatal technologies that a district hospital serving 250,000 people can implement for about $5,000.

    "Rebecca Richards-Kortum and Maria Oden have applied outstanding research and motivated our innovative students to use simple technology to improve health care in the world's poorest regions," said Rice President David Leebron. "As teachers, they have challenged their students to become leaders who use their skills in the service of others and betterment of our world, in this case saving babies' lives, and that is a fundamental part of Rice's mission."

    Richards-Kortum, the Stanley C. Moore Professor and chair of Rice's Department of Bioengineering, also directs Rice 360°. Oden, professor in the practice of bioengineering and director of Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, coordinates the technical design efforts of BTB students.

    BTB students work in teams to design technologies that address health care challenges identified by clinicians in the developing world. Each summer, about a dozen Rice students take the year's most promising BTB designs to Africa and Latin America for evaluation under the guidance of physicians and nurses in clinics and hospitals. More than 90 percent of BTB summer interns plan to incorporate global health activities into their careers after graduation.

    The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding innovators and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. The program recognized Richards-Kortum and Oden for several BTB technologies, including Rice's "bubble CPAP" system, or bCPAP, a respiratory support system for newborns that uses low-cost aquarium pumps to generate "continuous positive airway pressure" (CPAP).

    CPAP technology helps keep a child's lungs inflated and makes it easier for them to breath. The technology, which is particularly beneficial for premature newborns with immature lungs and for infants who are fighting severe respiratory infections, is widely available in the developed world, but the machines there cost about $6,000 and are too expensive for most developing world hospitals.

    Doctors at QECH challenged Rice's BTB students to come up with a lower-cost alternative, and they created bCPAP, a $400 system that delivers the same therapeutic flow and pressure as systems used in the developed world. BTB evaluated the device at QECH in a clinical trial funded by Saving Lives at Birth, a joint program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and the World Bank. The clinical trial found that bCPAP greatly improved the survival rates for premature babies. BTB is now working with Malawi's Ministry of Health to implement Rice's system in all of the country's hospitals.   

    Richards-Kortum and Oden said the Day One project is designed to replicate the success of bCPAP. Day One uses the methods pioneered in the bCPAP project to refine, implement and evaluate other neonatal technologies developed at Rice that will address the primary causes of infant mortality.

    "We are accepting the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation on behalf of all of the people at Rice, the Texas Medical Center and around the world who have helped to make BTB's work possible," Oden said. "Our decision to donate the prize money to QECH is a way to recognize the efforts of our students and collaborators, while ensuring that more life-saving technologies like bCPAP will be used to improve neonatal care in the developing world."

    Other BTB innovations recognized by the Lemelson-MIT Program include:


    • DoseRight Syringe Clips, which improve dosing accuracy in the delivery of AIDS-fighting drugs that must be delivered in precise quantities to prevent the transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their babies. The clips are being used in Swaziland, Africa.
    • A low-cost fluorescence microscope that uses a battery-powered LED flashlight. The Global Focus Microscope can be manufactured for about one-10th the cost of a conventional fluorescence microscope. Some 20 prototypes of the device are in field tests worldwide.


    "What is striking about these great professors is their vision that undergraduates can develop robust, inexpensive, technical solutions to solve real problems, and that the students can go to places like Malawi, deploy their prototypes and make the necessary modifications and improvements to deliver sustainable, practical, working devices," said Ned Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering.

    The Lemelson-MIT Program and its awards are named for Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history's most prolific inventors. Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy, founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994.

    "By introducing their undergraduate students to the health care challenges that exist in low-resource areas, and training those students in the invention process both inside and outside of the classroom, Rebecca Richards-Kortum and Maria Oden have created a group of young inventors who are developing solutions that save lives," said Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. "The Lemelson-MIT Program's award winners are chosen based on their own technological inventiveness and their ability to inspire the next generation of inventors. With several inventions in the field and many of the Beyond Traditional Borders students going on to include technology and global health as a focus of their careers, Rebecca and Maria are outstanding award winners and role models."

  • Tue, April 30, 2013 11:18 AM | Rice 360° (Administrator)

    VitaLink monitors infants from afar

    Rice University students join forces on baby-saving device for developing nations 

    HOUSTON – (April 30, 2013) – The ideal system for monitoring a baby’s health would be as simple as one, two, three. Three teams of senior engineering students at Rice University are working to do so wirelessly in neonatal wards in the developing world.

    The design teams have built a modular system to monitor an infant’s vital signs with a tablet that can track the progress – or warn of problems – for many babies at once.

    The VitaLink system keeps tabs on infants’ breathing, heart rate and body temperature. The system is designed to match the capabilities of nurseries in the developed world but at a cost more realistic to clinics in developing countries where the need is greatest.

    Gary Woods, a professor in the practice of computer technology and electrical and computer engineering and one of the team’s advisers, went to Africa last summer to see how his students could contribute to infant care at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. The hospital has partnered with the Rice 360˚: Institute for Global Health Technologies to develop cost-effective systems. At Queen Elizabeth’s neonatal nursery, a very small staff must care for dozens of babies with no way to monitor a crowded ward all at once.

    “I came away with a pretty good idea of what it would take to make this project,” Woods said. He pitched the idea to his senior students last fall. “There were so many interested that we formed three teams,” he said. “Their goal has been to build a system that has a little battery-powered dongle that can record the vital signs of a baby and wirelessly transmit them to a central tablet,” he said.

    The three projects and their team members are the iNurse (the BioLink team of Nathan Lo, Abhijit Navlekar, Rahul Rekhi, Fabio Ussher and Eric Palmgren), VitaSign (Gbenga Badipe, Adrian Galindo, Alison Hightman, James Kerwin and John Slack) and the Scalable Wireless Alert Generator, aka SWAG (Yuqiang Mu, Chris Metzler, Kiran Pathakota and Matt Johnson). Each team built a component that contains the necessary electronics and can be linked together at the side of the crib to gather and deliver information.

    The iNurse monitors temperature and respiration. The VitaSign adds a low-cost, low-power heart-rate sensor. Both alert caregivers if they sense trouble.

    SWAG is where the information comes together. The iNurse and VitaSign are hooked to the SWAG “brick,” which sends data over the air to an Android tablet. The students designed a custom app to give caregivers an up-to-the-minute picture of multiple infants’ health. With its current Bluetooth implementation, the system can monitor several babies, but an upcoming revision to Bluetooth 4 would allow for many more.

    Putting 14 students on a project is highly unusual at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), which typically sees teams of three, four or five toiling away on a given task.

    “It was like a startup environment where you have different sub-teams working on one larger project,” Rekhi said. “It put more on us to be able to coordinate and ensure that our individual devices and departments could communicate. But it did feel like an entrepreneurial endeavor.”

    One member of the SWAG team, Johnson, will demonstrate the system in Ethiopia on behalf of Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB) this summer. “Another team will go to Malawi, so our project will potentially be going to both places,” he said. Johnson said he hopes to come back at the end of the summer “with a lot of good data, and next year we’ll have something really awesome.”

    Before it goes to Africa (and before they graduate next month), the students want to make the system robust enough to handle inconsistent power feeds. “Power is constantly in flux at Queen Elizabeth,” said Rekhi, a bioengineering major who worked there as a BTB intern last summer. “We want the battery backup to be able to handle the system in case of a power outage.” The team’s goal is to run the system for months on end on double-A batteries.

    They expect future design teams to enhance VitaLink. “By the end of our design cycle, I think we’ve actually done enough hardware implementation that we can hand it off and tell the next team they don’t have to worry about hardware any more,” said Pathakota, an electrical engineering student. “All they need to do is write really good software for it.”

    “It needs to be really simple and understand the entire ward,” added Metzler, who also studies electrical engineering. “It needs to be clear to the nurse how each baby is doing.”

    Maria Oden, director of the OEDK and a professor in the practice of engineering, and Ashu Sabharwal, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, also advised the teams.

  • Mon, April 29, 2013 10:37 AM | Rice 360° (Administrator)

    David Ruth

    Mike Williams

    Fiji patients await Rice device

    Rice University seniors design device to deliver drugs to heart-attack and stroke patients 

    HOUSTON – (April 29, 2013) – Like a fine watch, a Rice University student team’s invention will tick and tock to pump lifesaving fluids into heart-attack patients a little bit at a time for hours on end.

    The spring-loaded AutoSyP, which regulates the progress of standard syringes, was designed for patients in developing nations who need quick access to a slow and steady supply of medication.

    The Rice engineering seniors who call themselves Chemomatic have already won honors for their sub-$400 box; they placed third in the 2013 University of Minnesota Design of Medical Devices student competition earlier this month. But the real payoff will come when their mentors from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) take their device to Fiji for evaluation with heart-attack and stroke patients.

    “In a lot of the developing world, there’s a tremendous burden of cardiac disease,” said Dr. Rohith Malya, director of the Division of Global Health at UT Health. “Fiji is the epicenter of it all. They have a death rate from heart attacks about five to eight times that of the United States.”

    Malya said heart attacks tend to strike Fijians in their 30s and 40s, much younger than in the Western world. “We think there’s a genetic predisposition to the Western diet being bad for them,” he said. “The Western diet and tobacco came to them about 30 years ago, when they were basically a nation of fishermen and everybody was pretty much healthy.”

    Fiji was among the South Pacific nations that declared a pandemic for heart disease at the United Nations in 2011. “It was the first time a noninfectious disease was declared a pandemic for any region,” Malya said. “Basically, the more they live like us in the West, the faster they die like us.”

    Malya came to Rebecca Richards-Kortum, director of the Rice 360˚ Institute for Global Health Technologies, and Maria Oden, director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, for help. They brought the Chemomatic team together last fall.

    Rice students Glenn Fiedler, Peter Jung, Lemuel Soh and Kevin Jackson designed their device to run for 24 hours using very little battery power as it delivers a measured dose of drugs or saline to a patient more accurately than an IV drip would. Though it can help treat patients with many needs, the first are likely to be cardiac patients like those under the care of Malya and stroke patients of Dr. Amy Noland, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at UTHealth who also works with the team.

    “Myocardial infarctions are ischemic events, clots that develop in the heart, so you use thrombolytic drugs like tPA and streptokinase to break up the clot,” said Jackson, who plans to attend medical school after graduating from Rice. “Both can be used for cardiovascular events. Some strokes are ischemic events, a clot in the brain, and you can use tPA.”

    In the Western world, Malya said, hospitals often treat clots with a cathetherization lab used to place angioplasty balloons or stents. “But these machines are expensive, and nobody can afford them but high-level Western hospitals. We’re asking if we can do something using older medicines to get Western-level outcomes. I think we can, and there’s research out there that says we can.”

    Fine control of the drug delivery is critical, and the AutoSyP delivers, Jackson said. “Our device accommodates syringe sizes from 5 to 60 milliliters, and the flow rate varies depending on the syringe size. It can be 60 all the way down to 5 milliliters per hour,” he said.

    The AutoSyP delivers force to syringes of various sizes through a spring-driven ratchet-and-pawl escapement system, like those found in timepieces. “The idea is to regulate something that wants to unwind quickly,” said Jung, also a future medical student, explaining why the team used a battery-driven stepper motor to disengage the two pawls from the ratchet in turn.

    “The spring wants to unwind the ratchet, but it’s opposed by the pawls,” Jung said. “So to knock these pawls up one at a time and allow the release in spring tension, we need to input some energy.”

    Every step pushes the syringe plunger a tiny bit forward. A few simple adjustments allow a clinician to adapt the device for various syringe sizes.

    They want the AutoSyP to be portable enough to be used in ambulances. “As they like to say, time is tissue,” Jackson said. “The longer you wait (to deliver treatment), the more of it is dying.”

    Malya hopes to have one or more AutoSyP prototypes in Fiji for evaluation by health officials within the next three months.

    “If this works in Fiji, it’s very expandable to relieve noncommunicable disease burdens in pretty much all of Africa and Southeast Asia,” he said. “If you start at Bangkok and draw a 1,000-mile radius, you cover 30 percent of the world’s population growth. It turns out many of those are middle- or lower-middle-income people who can afford bad things that make them susceptible to heart disease, diabetes and stroke.”


    Watch a video about the AutoSyP at

    Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

    Related materials:


    Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen:

    George R. Brown School of Engineering:

    University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston:

    Image for download:

    Rice University engineering students, from left, Lemuel Soh, Peter Jung, Glenn Fiedler and Kevin Jackson show the AutoSyP, which they intend to be a reliable, portable, automated drug delivery system for the developing world. (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)


  • Mon, April 08, 2013 9:49 AM | Rice 360° (Administrator)

    Rice teams win global health design competition April 5

    Two Rice University teams undefined Smooth Saline and Sphygmo undefined shared top prize in the Rice 360° Institute for Global Technologies‘ and Beyond Traditional Borders’ annual Undergraduate Global Health Technology Design Competition April 5.

    The competition, which is in its third year, drew 22 teams from 17 U.S. universities as well as two teams from Jimma University in Ethiopia undefined the competition’s first international student participants.

    Global health design competition winners

    From left, Becky Zaunbrecher of Smooth Saline; Maria Oden, director of Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen; Kathleen Wiest and Jessica Williams, both of Smooth Saline; and Andrew Badachhape, Lauren Luo, Ananta Subramanian and Emily Eggert, all of Sphygmo.

    Smooth Saline, which also took first place earlier this month in Rice’s annual Undergraduate Elevator Pitch Competition, won for its multiuse catheter flushing system that minimizes the risk of saline contamination while reducing costs by at least 50 percent.

    Sphygmo won for its solar-powered blood pressure monitoring system for ambulatory patients. This device automatically and periodically measures blood pressure and alerts patients and staff with auditory and visual alarms if levels are dangerous.

    “This year’s competition was a big success,” said Rice 360° Executive Director Lauren Vestewig Gray. “It is so inspiring to see the incredible work that undergraduate engineers around the world are doing to develop innovative global health technologies. The participation of the Ethiopian teams and the on-site participation of faculty from Jimma University were a milestone this year.”

    This marked the first year that all 20 judges in the competition were drawn from outside of Rice. Four of the 15 judges were from Ethiopia. They were Jimma faculty members Kora Tushune, Bheema Lingaiah and Esayas Alemayehu, as well as Kidest Hailu, country director for the American International Health Alliance Twinning Center. The Ethiopian experts participated thanks to funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Centers for Disease Control-South Africa. Alemayehu’s presentation on water purification technologies in Ethiopia was also a highlight of the day’s events, as was an evening keynote by Andrew Ellington, the Wilson M. and Kathryn Fraser Research Professor in Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Competing teams were judged on how clearly they articulated the global health need that their technology sought to address, as well as on the technical and social feasibility of their proposed solution. Judges also considered each team’s plan to overcome technical and social hurdles associated with their technologies. The Jimma teams competed via pre-recorded videos that were six minutes or less undefined the same time allotted to teams presenting on-site.

    This year’s winning teams were:

    First place – Sphygmo and Smooth Saline, both from Rice.

    Second place – Little Gasp, Tulane University, and Woven Solutions, Clemson University.

    Student’s choice undefined IncuLight, Wright State University.

    Best poster – Otoo, North Carolina State University.

  • Mon, March 11, 2013 4:14 PM | Anonymous
     – MARCH 11, 2013

    Rice University professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum participated in a webcast of the Global Grand Challenges Summit in London this week.

    The summit, sponsored by national academies of engineering in the United States, United Kingdom and China, seeks to share ideas among engineers, innovators and policymakers to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

    Richard-Kortum, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering, and director of Rice 360˚: Institute for Global Health Technologies, took part in a panel on health March 12.The event featured a keynote speech by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

  • Mon, January 28, 2013 1:14 PM | Rice 360° (Administrator)
    Beyond Traditional Borders is mentioned as an example of an educational program in translational research in an editorial by Dr. Glenn Prestwich in Science.  Read the editorial here: ScienceTL Med editorial.pdf  
  • Wed, January 23, 2013 5:00 PM | Rice 360° (Administrator)

    Grande-Allen selected for A.J. Durelli Award by Society for Experimental Mechanics
    Bioengineer recognized for research into structure-function relationship of heart valves

    Special to Rice News

    Rice University’s Jane Grande-Allen has been selected for the 2011 A.J. Durelli Award by the Society for Experimental Mechanics Inc. (SEM) for her significant innovative contributions of new techniques in experimental mechanics.

    The award is given annually to recognize younger members of the society in honor of A.J. Durelli, one of the most outstanding experimental stress analysts in the world during the second half of 20th century. SEM will present Grande-Allen with the award during the society’s annual conference next June in Uncasville, Conn.

    An associate professor of bioengineering, Grande-Allen looks at valve disease from both material and mechanical perspectives. Her investigations integrate knowledge of heart-valve physiology with precise engineering analysis to examine how continuous mechanical movement and dynamics of pressure and blood flow influence the biological function of heart-valve tissue.

    For the past decade, Grande-Allen’s experimental methods to test tissue function, strength, growth and abnormalities have ranged from nano to macro lengths of scale and have sought new mechano-physico bases to forecast changes in tissues over the course of a lifetime. These studies have positioned her as a leading expert in the study of the extracellular matrix that makes up cardiac valve tissue and how its components (collagen, elastin, glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans) assemble into an intricate connective tissue network that influences normal cell-mediated tissue growth.

    The research has led to numerous grants and 60 peer-reviewed publications, two book chapters and 67 invited presentations. Other awards Grande-Allen has received include the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Development Award (2005), Hamill Innovation (2005, 2008, 2010) and Medical Innovation (2007) awards from Rice’s Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering, the Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the Houston Society for Engineering in Medicine and Biology (2005), the Brown Foundation Teaching Award (2006) and the Rice University Presidential Mentoring Award (2009).

    Formed in 1943, SEM is composed of international members from academia, government and industry who are committed to interdisciplinary application, research and development, education and active promotion of experimental methods.

    – Shawn Hutchins is a staff writer in the Department of Bioengineering.

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