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GTRI Researcher Assists Students with Award-Winning Medical Project

Published: April 19, 2012


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When a team of four undergraduate students made an unprecedented sweep of the Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition finals last month, the accomplishment was a great example of the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) collaboration with the academic side of the university.

The “MAID” Team (Magnetically Assisted Intubation Device) of biomedical engineering undergraduates  won first place in the Undergraduate Competition, first in the Overall Competition, Most Commercializable Plan and the Alumni Award in the poster session, for total winnings of $42,500. The awards were announced in March 2012.

MAID is a simplified approach to intubation that utilizes magnets to guide the endotracheal tube into the airway of a patient easily and quickly, with less risk and without the need for visualization. In March 2011, the team won second place in the InVenture Prize at Georgia Tech competition, winning $10,000 cash and a patent application by the Office of Technology Licensing.

The team also won first place—$500—at the Design of Medical Devices Conference, held April 10-12 at the University Hotel Minneapolis, and $1,000 at the Product Development and Management Association's (PDMA) 2012 Student Competition Awards on April 19 at Georgia Tech.

Leanne West, director of the Landmarc Research Center within GTRI’s Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL), and Georgia Tech Professor of the Practice Franklin Bost have been advisors for the team since summer 2011. Both applied for an Independent Research and Development (IRAD) grant through the Translational Research Institute for Biomedical Engineering & Science (TRIBES). Together, they have worked to fund and advise the team with its invention. 

“I was aware of the group but not involved when Franklin Bost asked if I would like to partner on the IRAD with him,” West said. “Since teaming up, we have been trying to guide the group through the process to make this product more commercializable.”

For example, West says, the two give general prototype design feedback and thoughts on what they should do and what the team’s next steps should be.

“We have told them that they should think about the pediatric population [for the device],” she said. “Right now, they’re focusing on the adult population. In the end, the pediatric population may be easier; there is less size and weight variation than in the adult population.”

When the newest prototype is completed, West says, GTRI will help test it in the medical device testing lab, along with mechanical testing.

“This is a great accomplishment for the team,” West said. “It’s a great highlight on how groups from across Georgia Tech can work together.”

The team responsible for designing MAID is composed of biomedical engineering seniors Alex Cooper, Elizabeth Flanagan, Shawna Hagen and Jacob Thompson. TRIBES is located within the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, a first-of-its-kind partnership between Georgia Tech and Emory University.