2023 Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge Winners



NIBIB-sponsored prizes

“This year the DEBUT Challenge set a new record for participation with the largest number of entries we've ever seen. DEBUT students and mentors are working on many of the world's most pressing healthcare challenges, with prize-winning teams recognized for their exceptional ingenuity across a range of topics, inlcuding key advances in the rapidly growing area of technology for women's health.”

-Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., NIBIB Director

A student’s gloved hands holds the EpicPen device.

NIBIB Steven H. Krosnick Prize (First Prize): EpicPen, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Nathan French, Victoria Sinfield, Nick Will, Brianna Shannon, Deepa Jayasankar 

The EpicPen is a novel and accessible epinephrin auto-injector, a type of life-saving portable device used to treat anaphylactic reactions. Unlike other injectors, this device features a spring-loaded injection mechanism that enables the injector to be reused, significantly lowering the current high cost of multiple injections.

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A hand holds the OneSpec vaginal speculum.

NIBIB Second Prize: Feminora, University of California-Irvine

Anushka Chauhan, Jennifer Reyes, Shlok Bansal, Rohan Kunduru, Lucas Jones, Allison Friefeld, Joyce Chen, Jazmin Arias, Artin Rashidi

Feminora’s OneSpec is a vaginal speculum that improves on the traditional duck-bill design, which can cause pain by pinching vaginal tissue and can also cause a physician’s line of sight to become obstructed during pelvic exams. The new device applies even pressure along the vaginal walls while offering examining physicians a clear view.

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MRI scans of a breast immobilization device being used on phantom breast tissue

NIBIB Third Prize: Breast MRI Biopsy Positioning and Immobilization Device, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Cameron Ashford, Emma Brower, Claire Swartz, Helen Treankler, Sam Herzog 

This new device improves both the efficacy of MRI-guided biopsies and patient comfort by positioning and immobilizing breasts of varying size and shape more effectively than the currently utilized apparatus.

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NIH-sponsored prizes

“NCI is proud to support research into innovative therapies designed to improve cancer care. Funding young scientists through the DEBUT Challenge will help to deliver the latest in cancer innovations to patients and communities, one of the aims of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Cancer MoonshotSM.”

-Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., NCI Director

A schematic showing the FADpad's components, with labels for the pull tab, padidngton/filtration, filter paper, and adhesive.

NIH OAR Prize for HIV/AIDS: FADpad, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

Netra Gandhi, Rhea Prem, Ethan Damiani

The filtered adhesive diagnostic pad, or FADpad, is a multi-layered menstrual pad add-on that can be placed onto any pad to collect menstrual blood samples. The user can store and ship the sample to a lab to be tested for human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer — a cancer that is also closely linked to HIV.

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An exploded schematic of the DioTex prototype, with labels for its sample pad, analyte pad, control line, test line, and absorption pad

NIMHD Healthcare Technologies for Low-Resource Settings Prize: DioTeX, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

Ellie Zhang, Feiyang Huang, Eric Simon

The DioTeX prototype is a portable rapid diagnostic assay that can detect blood biomarkers for trauma-induced hemorrhage to improve assessment and treatment of internal trauma. This testing device requires minimal training, making it easy to use in low-resource and rural settings.

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A hand holds the MiaFit vaginal dilator

NCI Technologies for Cancer Prevention, Diagnosis, or Treatment Prize: MiaFit, University of California-San Diego

Ritika Singh, German Gonzalez, Melina Tsotras, Stella Kotzabasakis

MiaFit is a low-cost expandable vaginal dilator designed to comfortably treat vaginal stenosis, a narrowing and shortening of the vagina that can cause significant pain and discomfort.

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A photo of a prosthetic leg

National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, NICHD Rehabilitative and Assistive Technologies Prize: Adjustable Prosthetic Socket, University of California-San Diego

Anton Gerasimov, Jay Chok, Savanna Turner

A new adjustable prosthetic socket is designed to adapt to the daily volume changes in the residual limbs of amputees using force sensing elements and air bladders, avoiding complications associated with poor fit such as sores and skin irritation.

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An image of a 3D model of the U-Sert diaper insert

NINR Technologies to Empower Nurses in Community Settings Prize: U-Sert, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina

Allie Beiter, Reagan Hamm, Maddie Thomas, Anna Wichmann

The U-Sert is a urinalysis insert that adheres to the interior of babies’ diapers to collect and test samples for urinary tract infections, providing a streamlined solution compared to current collection and diagnostic methods.

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VentureWell-sponsored prizes

A rendering of the SteadyScrib pen and pad.

VentureWell Venture Prize: SteadyScrib, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Izzy Mokotoff, Alexis Chan, Priva Dave, Jamison Stout

The SteadyScrib pen set consists of a pen and clipboard designed to counteract Parkinson’s disease symptoms that inhibit writing through its wide grip, magnetic attraction between pen and board, and weighted core.

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A student pulls on the wrist of the SpasTECH mechanical arm

VentureWell Design Excellence Prize: SpasTECH, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark

Cole Bienert, Hayder Khan, Ashwin Kurian, Roark McFadden, William Kroeger

The SpasTECH Spastic Arm Simulator is a 3D-printed mechanical arm that can mimic motions associated with the neuromuscular condition spasticity and potentially serve as a teaching tool for clinicians to improve the reliability and objectivity of spasticity assessments.

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Honorable Mentions

Rava One, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

Rava One: The SmartScope is a microscope that features both AI and telepathology capabilities to accelerate cancer diagnostics in low-resource communities.

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HIVigilance, University of Washington, Seattle

HIVigilance is an affordable, high-throughput diagnostic tool tailored to test for HIV drug resistance in low-resource settings, providing critical information to help clinicians prescribe effective treatment regimens.

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Enginuity, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Enginuity’s Fast-Cath offers a new method of draining and irrigating the bladders of patients with neurogenic bladder disorder that is more effective, efficient, and accessible than the current approach.

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CaptaEEG, Arizona State University, Tempe

CaptaEEG helps users manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms by monitoring brainwave patterns and providing vibrational feedback to enhance user focus and attention through a connected mobile app.

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Sanibag, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio

Sanibag is a colostomy bag that can be cleaned much easier than traditional bags.

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