Bringing health innovation to life

Where does a cardiologist go when she has an idea to improve a common medical device? She knows that a pacemaker with a longer lifespan and lighter weight could help improve her patients’ quality of life, but how does she make her idea into a reality?

That’s where the Penn Center for Health, Devices, and Technology (Penn Health-Tech) comes in. The Center is a Penn-wide effort to advance budding ideas into new devices and health technologies to solve unmet health care needs. Last year, a $300,000 gift of seed funds was awarded to five grant winners at the Center’s inaugural symposium. Taken together, these first projects are an example of the broad array of ideas being hatched at Penn. Neurologists, pulmonologists, pediatricians, bioengineers, and material scientists have teamed up to design a new fabric to monitor changes in perspiration, diagnose disease on a microchip using a cell-phone camera, develop a wearable breathing aid for emphysema patients, improve delivery of gene therapy for brain disorders, and upgrade a method to make new bone at surgical sites for kids with cranio-facial disorders. These projects are in different stages of development, from building prototypes and software to conducting proof-of-principle animal studies to soon running clinical trials.

From the experience of this first round of projects, David Issadore, an assistant professor of bioengineering, spoke with Penn Health-Tech about the value of an interdisciplinary center that spans medicine and engineering: “It’s challenging to find people who can cross that divide. There are very few engineers who speak medicine and very few doctors who speak engineer.”

Read the full story at Penn Medicine News.