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November 20, 2014

Innovation Challenge projects earn $400,000


Projects that will help children use devices to treat their asthma, a portable sensor that monitors a condition called ketosis and a web-based tool to aid recovery from knee injury were each awarded $100,000 prizes Nov. 12 in the second Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh).

Four other projects received $25,000 awards during the live judging event at the University Club.

More than 60 teams participated in the challenge, which was sponsored by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Office of the Provost and the Innovation Institute. During the first phase of the competition, which began in September, each team submitted a video entry to answer the question, “From cell to community:  How can we individualize solutions for better health(care)?” Twenty teams then were asked to provide a written description of their projects, and 10 finalists were chosen to present during the showcase.

CTSI director Steven E. Reis, associate vice chancellor for clinical research, Health Sciences, and faculty member in the Department of Medicine, said: “PInCh is a celebration of the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit of some of the brightest, most enterprising teams of visionary thinkers in and around the Pittsburgh region. This approach is leading to the implementation of some amazing ideas.”

In addition to the cash prize, winners also will get the assistance of a project manager to begin implementing their ideas.

$100,000 awards

  • Nebukin, a game-based software aid to help children properly use nebulizers for inhaled treatment of conditions such as asthma. Team leader is Timothy Corcoran, medicine and bioengineering, pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine department.
  • Nanoketo, a small portable sensor for monitoring ketosis, a condition common in diabetics in which the body uses fat instead of sugar for energy. Team leader is James Ellis, graduate student in Alexander Star’s lab, chemistry and bioengineering departments.
  • ACL Interaction, a web-based tool to individualize rehabilitation of ACL injuries. Team leader is Michael McClincy, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

$25,000 awards

  • PediaTristan, an educational video series for pediatric patients and families. Team leader is Tristan Horan, Pitt student.
  • Psychometabolomics, a screening test for metabolic disorders in hard-to-treat depression. Team leader is Lisa Pan, psychiatry.
  • Caring for Cancer Survivors at the Virtual Bedside, a web-based communication for medical teams of childhood cancer survivors. Team leader is Aimee Costello, Children’s Hospital.
  • MAGIC (Medication Adherence using In-Clinic), an app using passive and active data to track mental status of psychiatric patients. Team leader is Doug Henry, UPMC.
Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 7