The Biomedical Innovation and Development (BioID) program was created in 2013 by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University to meet a specific market need for multidisciplinary professionals, people with a broad educational background who can thrive at the intersection of medical device engineering, healthcare, and business development.
Essentially, it’s a program designed to train and develop the next generation of future leaders in the biomedical industry. Or, as recent graduate Parth Agarwal says, “the BioID progam is a unique tarmac between academia and industry. The program made us realize that there is so much more to medical device development than just R & D.”
Agarwal is a member of the latest graduating class of students who completed the intensive one-year program, earning a Master of Biomedical Innovation and Development (MBID) through the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (a joint department of Georgia Tech and Emory).
Last month, the students participated in an annual rite of passage, delivering their final, year-end BioID project presentations to a live audience, as program director Sathya Gourisankar and a packed room that included clinicians, students and industry leaders looked on.
Students presented the results of their bench to bedside product development efforts on medical devices for various therapeutic areas comprising of urology, neurology, diabetes, pre-hospital setting, vascular surgery and cardiac surgery.
In all, six teams of students gave their summaries as noted below:
• Asha Medical (Pre-Hospital Team): Team members are Partha Agarwal, Nathan Buchbinder, Keanoeka Mingoia, Jonathan Yang, Alexandra Lupu. Clinical mentor is Lekshmi Kumar of Emory Medical Hospital. Asha Medical aims to bring an accurate weight measurement solution to emergency medical services, a need the team identified after 150 hours of ambulance ride-alongs. Emergency medical technicians determine many medications based on a visual estimate of a patient’s weight. Asha wants to change that with its MassCot system, a device that integrates easily into an ambulance stretcher and provides an accurate measurement, improving care for millions of patients every year.
• Apricity Medical (Vesicourethral Anastomosis Team): Team members are Carlie Focke, Kara McCluskey, Samantha Solaski, Sharvari Deshpande. Clinical mentors are Raymond Pak (Mayo Clinic) and Jaime Wong (Intuitive Surgical, Inc.). Vesicourethral Anastomosis refers to reconnection of the bladder neck and urethra after removal prostatectomy surgeries. After conducting surgical observations and conducting a nation-wide survey of urologists, the team found that there is no standard way of connecting the bladder neck and urethra, which can result into post-operative complications such as urine leaks, bladder neck contractures, and urinoma. It also results into longer catheterization time, which can cause urinary tract infections. So Apricity Medical is developing a device designed to standardize the procedure, saving time and money for hospitals without compromising efficiency of current suturing techniques or ease of use.
• AtlanTech Cardio (Cardio Pulmonary Team): Team members are Samantha Beekhuizen, Julia Benson, Courtney Kline, Arun Sharma, Ryan Shaw. Clinical mentor is Gautam Kumar (Emory Medical Hospital). The team identified an unmet clinical need in the treatment of sub-massive and massive pulmonary embolisms, so they developed a better catheter designed to reduce the risk of vascular laceration and internal bleeding. Beyond the clinical benefits, this solution has the potential to translate into cost savings for both the hospital and patient.
• Vocuris (Diabetes Team): Team members are Apoora Jayaram, Lianne Griffin, Shreyas Dighe, Sneha Dhokale, Xinyu Wang. Clinical mentor is Lance Black (an MD and past graduate of the BioID program). Vocuris set out to develop an affordable way to improve compliance by reducing discomfort and inconvenience caused during self-monitoring of blood glucose for diabetic patients. Their device is actually a suite of products that come together in a compact and easy-to-use diabetes health station. It includes devices that measure blood glucose, blood pressure and weight. Aside from this, the station will be personalized by providing the owner with features that include a mobile charging port and storage for medical supplies.
• Neurocracy (Neuro Surgery Team): Team members are Kevin Blatt, Joshua Sitler, Vinuta Mayakonda, Aparna Philip, Jai Tejay. Clinical mentor is Prem Kandiah (Emory Medical Hospital). A clinical need was identified after discussions with neurological ICU physicians and ethnographic research of treatment using External Ventricular Drains (EVD) systems, which drain excess fluid from ventricles and relieve increased intracranial pressure (ICP) in patients with sustained severe brain trauma. These systems have their limitations, which could have major impacts on effective treatment. So the team designed a modified (improved) EVD system, with continuous ICP measurement and simultaneous CSF flow monitoring to facilitate better treatment and improve clinical outcomes.
• VasTech (Vasculary Surgery Team): Team members areNichole Abla, Matthew Baker, Garret Hull, Peymaun Shafouri-Kia, Katherine Livingston, David Wesley. Clinical mentor is Yazan Duwayri (Emory Medical Hospital). VasTech wants to help patients with endovascular AAA stent grafts that face complication due to dangerous stent graft migration, which requires immediate intervention. VasTech’s solution is a stent graft implant addition that can monitor stent graft migrations more efficiently, cost effectively, and safer than current treatment options, while reducing the percent of patients lost to follow up, or potential deaths due to rupture.
Each of the teams presented an unmet clinical need they had identified and their solutions along with plans for addressing the challenge. They explained how they discovered the need, their development strategy as well as their business strategy – a chance to use the “bench-to-bedside progression” they learned about in the BioID program.
During the project summaries, it was almost as if they were fledgling companies making a pitch to potential investors. But that’s part of the appeal of BioID, according to the students, what recent graduate Keanoeka Mingoia calls, “the real world format of the program. I can say with confidence that I am completely prepared to begin my career in the medical device industry.”
In fact, at times it was easy for the students to feel as if they already were engaged in business operations.
“Being part of BioID felt as though I was part of a biomedical device company,” says recent graduate Vinuta Mayakonda. “Dr. Gourishankar was the CEO, and we all were his employees.”
Gourisankar brought in industry veterans, entrepreneurs, FDA experts and clinicians who served as mentors and guest lecturers throughout the year. The insight gained from people who have started companies and been otherwise engaged in the biomedical industry was invaluable to students like Courtney Kline, who says the program, “provided me with the opportunity to learn from the first-hand experiences of people in the industry,” which made her comfortable with concepts and lingo used in the workplace.
“Not only do I feel much more prepared entering the medical device industry,” Kline adds, “but I have also made lifelong connections with professors and classmates.”
The past year was indeed a unique experience that was by no means a run-of-the-mill master’s program experience for this cohort of students, who took courses in engineering, finance, management, clinical literacy and leadership development alongside doing a full-fledged clinical project with business impact. But, “it was the perfect formula to enter various facets of the medical device industry and hit the ground running,” according to recent grad Shreyas Dighe.
“You get exactly what’s needed in the industry today,” says recent graduate Shreyas Dighe. “It’s the complete package.”
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience