Fertility issues can be physically and emotionally taxing for couples that can be exacerbated by the financial strain associated with assisted reproductive technology. For many people, trying to start a family, which should be the happiest time of their lives, can become draining. These sentiments are shared by 12 to 13 percent of United States couples who struggle to conceive.
A team of students from University of Utah Health set out to help mitigate these frustrations with a medical device they presented at the 2018 annual Bench-to-Bedside competition. Their team, PreOv, received the $50,000 grand prize for its low-cost, user-friendly device that accurately provides couples with real-time fertility information.
Unlike many other fertility monitoring products, this device will evaluate the pre-ovulatory phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle by measuring the water content of cervical mucus. This information could provide couples with their optimal fertile days and give them plenty of time to plan.
Members of the winning team — Jeanna Ryan, Young Hong, Lars Lofgren and team leader Joni Aoki — were moved by the struggles of men and women across the country who encounter fertility problems or otherwise have difficulty conceiving. “For our friends and family that have needed to seek out fertility treatments, their experiences took a rigorous physical, emotional and financial toll that we greatly empathize with,” read their initial proposal.
Sponsored by Zions Bank, Bench-to-Bedside is a unique program that highlights health-care innovation and is managed by the Center for Medical Innovation at U of U Health and Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. The program was designed to give students from different disciplines, such as medicine, engineering and business, the opportunity to try their hand at medical innovation with the goal of developing new medical devices to address an unmet clinical need. Prize money is intended to support further research and project development and ultimately help those students bring their ideas to market. PreOv hopes to present its device to couples as a more cost-efficient alternative to fertility monitoring.
“The Bench-to-Bedside program is the vision of two former students who wanted to transform health care,” said John Langell, MD, Ph.D., MPH, MBA, executive director for the Center for Medical Innovation at U of U Health. “This program brings out the best and brightest [of our] students from across the state.”
Since the program debuted 8 years ago, the competition has created 176 teams that have invented 180 medical devices, filed 117 patents and launched 38 companies and is still going strong.
Learn more about the Bench-to-Bedside program here: https://uofuhealth.utah.edu/center-for-medical-innovation/bench-2-bedside/.
Other winners of the 2018 Bench-to-Bedside competition include:
Runner Up: $15,000
Sixth Sensing: a contact-free respiratory monitoring device to help improve the patient experience, specifically in psychiatric settings.
Team members: Justin Brunson, Alemayehu Abrar
Legacy Award: $20,000
Veiser: an adjustment in vein ablation through mechanical distortion of the vessel lumen, in response to the pain and prevalence of varicose veins.
Team Members: William Anderl, Shelby Murdock, Benjamin Anderl
Best in Medicine: $5,000
Zero Stitch: An at-home option for patients that offers a new approach to repair lacerations, reducing wait time and bills in half.
Team members: Christopher Christiansen, James Christiansen
Best in Engineering: $5,000 Eccles
& Marriott Library Award: $2,000
Endogrip: A device that offers grip and guidance for endovascular probe motions, to help reduce potential complications of probe movement.
Team members: Farshad Mogharrahbi, Amir Ali Ghaffarian, Benjamin Reed Fogg
Best in Business: $5,000
Knee Harmony: A lightweight versatile knee brace and rehabilitation system that provides enhanced therapy for patients suffering from acute knee injury or recovering from surgery.
Team members: Jason Miller, Jason Huang, Luke Todd, Jess Thayne, Dan Kim, Annie Rowley, Sri Radhakrishnan
Best in Health Care IT: $5,000
& Ophthalmological Global Health: $5,000
Early Detection of Retinopathy: A medical imaging that provides physicians with information automatically they would otherwise get manually.
Team members: Khalid Ahmad, Ahmad Alasleem
Ensign College of Public Health Global Health Award: $17,000
Pleth Patch: With primary care providers in mind, the patch offers a low cost-per-use device for monitoring patient vital signs.
Team members: Stefan Niederauer, Azmi Ahmad, Ben Fogg
Young Entrepreneur’s Award: $1,000
Smooth Stop: A new-spin on wheelchair brake that provides a safer, more comfortable stop for users who are on downhill routes.
Team Members: Michael Palmer, Chris Ausbeck, Nico Edgar, Joseph Wang, Leo Doctorman
John Norda Consumers Choice Award: $10,000
PVAC: A smaller, quieter and more convenient smoke evacuator designed especially for use in rural hospitals and developing nations where there is less space and fewer resources.
Team members: Luke Koenen, Kade Loveridge, Tom Godron, Jesse Nelson, David Taylor, Luke Son
Ted Stanley Innovation Award: $5,000
DentiOps: An illuminating device incorporated into an intraoral mirror, meant to reduce the need for multiple dental tools and ensure proper cleanings.
Team Members: Michael Kane, Ahrash Poursaid, Trevor Hafer, Christine Henry