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‘Future of Suture’ Device Wins $12,500 Inventors Prize for Johns Hopkins Students

November 13, 2012
Media Contact: Phil Sneiderman
Office: 443-287-9960
Cell: 410-299-7462
prs@jhu.edu

For devising a disposable suturing tool to guide the placement of stitches and guard against the accidental puncture of internal organs, an undergraduate biomedical engineering team from Johns Hopkins won the $12,500 first-prize Tuesday in the 2012 Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Prototype of the FastStitch device

The winners were announced during an awards ceremony held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The collegiate inventors contest, now in its 21st year, is run by Invent Now, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages invention. This year’s undergraduate winning entry was selected from seven university finalists – six teams and one individual – working in engineering and medical disciplines. Judging was conducted by experts from industry, government and academic research

Representing the FastStitch team at the ceremony were Leslie Myint of Wallingford, Pa.; Daniel Peng of Cupertino, Calif.; Andy Tu of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.; and Stephen Van Kooten of Bloomington, Ind. All are seniors majoring in biomedical engineering. “We were very surprised that we won and also were very humbled because there were a lot of very talented teams competing in this event,” Peng said.

A University of Wisconsin student placed second in the contest with a new approach to a prosthetic hand, while a team from Clemson University took third place with a shoulder stabilization device.

The student inventors: Back row from left: Daniel Peng, Leslie Myint, Ang Tu, and Sohail Zahid. Front row from left: Luis Herrera, Stephen Van Kooten, Anvesh Annadanam, and Haley Huang. Image: Will Kirk / Homewood Photography

In addition to the Johns Hopkins team’s prize money, an additional $4,000 award will go to the students’ faculty adviser, Robert Allen, an associate research professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which is shared between the university’s School of Medicine and its Whiting School of Engineering.

The students have described their device as a cross between a pliers and a hole-puncher, and they say it will lead to “the future of suture.” The tool is designed to improve the up to 5 million open abdominal surgeries that are conducted annually in the United States alone.

The device is still in the prototype stage, but with the addition of the Tuesday’s award, the FastStitch team has already raised more than $100,000 this year in grant and prize money to support further development of its project. Although four student representatives attended the award ceremony, the device, called FastStitch, was invented by a total of eight students enrolled in the design team program within the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design. The other four student inventors are Sohail Zahid, Luis Herrera, Anvesh Annadanam and Haley Huang.

The students have formed a Baltimore-based company, Archon Medical Technologies, to move the device toward clinical use. Peng said the students are planning to invest the new $12,500 prize in the company for further FastStitch research and development and to produce new, improved prototypes.

Related links:

More information and photos of the students and their device on the project are here: http://hub.jhu.edu/gazette/2012/november/featured-future-for-suture

A short video showing how the device works can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSx88E131oo&feature=player_embedded

Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering: http://www.bme.jhu.edu
Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design: http://cbid.bme.jhu.edu/
Whiting School of Engineering: http://engineering.jhu.edu/
Archon Medical Technologies: http://www.archonmed.com

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