CWRU team wins “NASA Tech Briefs” Create the Future Design Contest

A team from Case Western Reserve University won first prize in the Medical Category of the 2014 NASA Tech Briefs Create the Future Design Contest.

The team, led by Yunus Alapan, a mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate student and PhD candidate in the Case School of Engineering Biomanufacturing and Microfabrication Lab, used a microengineered design in developing a new device that can rapidly diagnose hemoglobin disorders in newborns. Umut Gurkan, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, leads the lab.

More than 800 children are born with sickle cell disease, a common hemoglobin disorder, every day in Africa, and more than half of them die in childhood due to lack of diagnosis and early treatment. In the U.S., hemoglobin screening of newborns is mandated for early diagnosis of hemoglobin disorders, so that monitoring and treatment can be started immediately. However, this strategy has not been widely available in Africa and other developing countries, due to limited resources and lack of technologies.

Other team members include undergraduate biomedical engineering students Ryan Ung and Megan Romelfanger, high school student Asya Akkus, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine faculty members Connie Piccone and Jane Little, and Gurkan.

This project is funded by Coulter-Case Translational Research Partnership and the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland, UL1TR000439 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) component of the National Institutes of Health and NIH roadmap for Medical Research.

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 by the publishers of NASA Tech Briefs magazine to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has attracted more than 8,000 product design ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs, and students worldwide. The contest’s principal sponsors are COMSOL, Mouser and Tech Briefs Media Group.