SALT LAKE CITY -- The University of Utah is known for its medical innovations, but students in one program are taking an extra step to improve the way health care is delivered.
Earlier this week, 33 teams competed in the school's Bench-to-Bedside competition.
“We take students from across disciplines—typically graduate students in engineering, business, medicine, law, design—bring them together, resource them, and help them to create new medical technologies,” said Doctor John Langell, Executive Director for Medical Innovation at U of U.
The university's Bench-to-Bedside program is focused on one thing: getting people better access to the health care they need.
This year, 33 teams had six months and $500 to create a concept. The prize pool is more than $70,000 and includes a $15,000 grand prize.
“We have a big focus on global health innovation,” Langell said. “That’s creating technologies that serves everybody and delivers high quality care worldwide.”
In the last five years of the program, students have started 27 companies. Several of those have even launched globally, like last year's winning project.
“It's called Cinluma,” Langell said. “It is a technology to kill cancer before it actually starts. So pre-cancerous cervical lesions. It's already being used in 15 locations across the globe.”
Spencer Madsen is pursuing a Ph.D. from the U of U, and his project for the program is focused on improved products for baby monitoring.
“So the product is a plus one baby monitor,” he said. “Basically it’s a completely non-contact, wireless respiratory monitor that’s built into a traditional baby monitoring system. So it does video and audio and temperature settings, but also it measures the baby’s respiration rate, or breathing.”
Madsen said that, every year, more than 3,500 children die unexpectedly due to strangulation or breathing problems. He said this monitor would give parents the chance to detect those issues, and possibly save their children's lives.
He said while there is similar work going on, his product would be unique.
“There’s current other publications and studies that they’re doing in the same area, but nothing quite like this,” Madsen said.
Langell said the work students do for the program is exceptional.
“I’m massively proud of this, and, honestly, I think this is something unique to Utah,” he said. “We’re able to knock down the silos, bring together experts from across disciplines, and our students are really the driving force in making this happen.”