May 3, 2011
Bioengineering students won big in this year’s Big Ideas @ Berkeley competition. UC Berkeley’s annual “Big Ideas” prize competition inspires innovative and high-impact student projects aimed at solving the world’s most pressing problems. Both teams sharing the first place prize in the Social Entrepreneurship category include Bioengineering students, as well as the second place winners in the ‘Scaling Up Big Ideas’ and Emerging and Neglected Diseases categories.
Class Projects to Social Ventures
Team Members: Sam Brunswick, Faisa Sefta and BioE graduate student Samantha Cronier
There are countless student projects completed each year in academic classes that never get used in the real world because students do not know how to move them to the next level. Similarly, there are real causes that desperately need creative solutions. They can provide a forum for learning in class projects. “Class Projects to Social Ventures” will facilitate collaboration with social ventures to lead to a win-win situation: students will be more motivated because they will know their work can be utilized in a real world context, and the organization will benefit from a project overseen by experts: professors who are specialists in the field. “Class projects to Social Ventures” will provide the missing matchmaker that can connect these parties. Through it, collaborations would be facilitated and students would have more opportunities to apply the knowledge they learn in classes in engaging “real world” projects.
Team Members Lina Nilsson, Christopher Rhodes, Kate Lovero and Bioengineering graduate students Bertram Koelsch, Todd Duncomb, Kevin Lance, and Naomi Kort
Access to standard lab equipment is a serious limitation to scientific education, research and capacity building in many parts of the world. To combat this problem, Tekla Labs aims to empower scientists and engineers to construct their own quality lab equipment from locally available supplies using detailed and reliable protocols. While many real-world examples of do-it-yourself (DIY) equipment already exist, quality assurance and comprehensive instructions on how to build education and research grade lab equipment are lacking. To address this, Tekla Labs is creating an interactive online library of tested “How-To” blueprints. All equipment instructions will be freely available under an unrestricted creative commons license to allow users throughout the world to use and add to Tekla Labs. The interactive online forum will allow researchers to ask questions and make requests, share their own improvements and alternative solutions, and connect to other labs worldwide.
Scaling Up Big Ideas
Team Members: Frances Bell and Bioengineering graduate students Richard Novak, Gautham Venugopalan, and Tyson Kim
There are many problems in various areas of the world: poverty, inadequate healthcare, and a lack of natural resources, to name a few. Yet with sufficient help, the affected communities themselves can stand up to inequality, poverty, and disease by having the ability to solve their own problems. Future Scientist was founded with the belief that science education can provide people with the ability to solve many of the problems that affect the communities they live in. Future Scientist provides immediate technical resources to those in need through community-based projects. Scaling up, Future Scientist will be focusing on two projects: developing an international medical rotation in partnership with UCSF and starting partnerships between K-12 schools in the U.S. and Peru.
MicroFluidic Biomolecular Amplification Reader for Infectious Disease Agents in South Africa
Team Members: Bioengineering graduate students Rick Henrikson, Frank Myers, and Liyi Xu
The Microfluidic Biomolecular team is developing an integrated microfluidic system for simple and robust biomolecular amplification with an inexpensive reader to conduct a rapid and complicated analysis of a range of samples encountered in the field. They are targeting this microfluidic biomolecular amplification reader (MicroBAR) at global health diagnostics, with a specific focus on tuberculosis detection and classification based on drug resistant genotype. Funds will be used to return to South Africa to scale up their project for field deployment.
Emerging and Neglected Diseases
The State of Ear Health and Rise of Tympanocentesis
Team Members: Francis Chen, Bioengineering undergraduates James Che, Elaine Lee, Trisha Bartlett, and Bioengineering Professor Amy Herr
Otitis Media (OM), more commonly known as a severe ear infection, is a medical condition that is caused by a variety of pathogens and affects 70% of all children under the age of three. Currently, most ear infections are treated with multiple rounds of antibiotics. With the onset of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, this type of treatment may be inefficient, costly, and time consuming. A more effective treatment is known as Tympanocentesis, a medical procedure used for diagnosing and treating ear infections. The need for the procedure is rising along with emerging bacterial resistance, but no fully-integrated device for administering the treatment exists. Current methods involve using a spinal needle tap, fed through the viewing window of an otoscope, to puncture the ear drum, which is an extremely unstable process and is oftentimes avoided by pediatricians. This project will develop a novel, single-handed, integrated, and ergonomic device that can perform tympanocentesis with existing disposable materials commonly found at the doctor’s office.