Safer urinary catheter, pulse oximeter for all skin colors and a GI stent win prizes at UW competition


Team InSTENT: Ziming (Jimmy) Ye, Brandon Lou, Gillian Pereira, Evan Ross and Clara Black. (UW Photo)

Students from Pacific Northwest colleges and universities jostled for a slate of awards Thursday at the annual University of Washington Hollomon Health Challenge.

Students from the University of Washington’s Team inSTENT Connection took home the $15,000 WRF Capital Grand Prize. The group of biochemistry and engineering students invented a stent that aims to reduce complications of gastrointestinal tract surgery.

The stent is placed inside the intestine between two segments that need to be surgically connected to each other, creating a seal. Once the wound heals, the internal tube and an exterior compressive band are reabsorbed into the body.

The team is finalizing its design and materials and exploring ways to acquire more funding. “Our plans are to take this device as far along as we can as a team,” Gillian Dominique Pereira told GeekWire. There are no similar products currently on the market, said Pereira, an undergraduate materials science and engineering student.

Team InSTENT’s gastrointestinal stent. (InSTENT Photo)

In second place was UW’s Team CathConnect, which won the $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation prize for its tech to improve the safety of urinary catheters. Confused patients sometimes attempt to remove their own catheter, which can cause injury. The device allows the catheter tube to disconnect when pulled, protecting the patient from trauma to the urethra.

“We plan to continue working on our project after graduation with the goal to commercialize,” said CathConnect team member Liam Sullivan, an undergraduate student in the department of mechanical engineering. The team also won the $2,500 Jim & Timmie Holloman Best Idea for a Medical Device Prize for having the most promise to improve the lives of patients or providers.

Team CathConnect, left to right: Advisor Dr. Tova Weiss, Liam Sullivan, Joelle Tudor, Austin Higgs, Michael Malone, and Manny Pacheco. (UW Photo)

The $5,000 Fenwick & West Third Place Prize went to a team of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering students from the UW developing a pulse oximeter sensor that adjusts for skin tone. Team EquinOX also won the $2,500 Best Idea for Addressing Health Access and Disparities Prize.

The Hollomon Health Challenge, in its seventh year, gives students a chance to make connections and win funding that could help develop their school projects into startups. The event is hosted by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the UW’s Foster School of Business.

Two other teams were recognized at the event. Team Trialable, from the University of British Columbia, took home a $2,500 digital innovation prize for their software system to help identify candidates for clinical trials. And team Ultropia from the UW won $1,000 for its low cost and energy efficient technology for cleaning hospital bedding and linens.


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