UW-Madison: Electronic stent-deployment system wins top prize at 2011 Innovation Days

CONTACT: Alicia Jackson, 608-265-2899, [email protected]

MADISON – A system that could widely expand stent treatments for patients with diseased arteries won the top prize and $10,000 in the Schoofs Prize for Creativity, one of a pair of competitions that make up Innovation Days, an event that rewards University of Wisconsin-Madison students for innovative and marketable ideas.

For the first time in the competition’s 17-year history, the winning inventor has claimed first place in the Schoofs Prize two years in a row. Mechanical engineering senior Tom Gerold created the MicroMag Stent Deployment System after watching his grandfather struggle with arterial disease. He subsequently learned more about the medical device industry at a summer internship and combined that experience with his engineering coursework to develop a system that could make a significant difference for cardiovascular patients.

MicroMag is an electromagnetic system to deploy self-expanding metal stents and retract the catheter that inserts those stents. This system would allow surgeons to place stents, the wire mesh tubes used to inflate blocked arteries, in smaller blood vessels than currently is possible. Now, surgeons must physically maneuver catheters, which can cause stents to deploy early or not at all.

Gerold’s invention turns stent deployment into a carefully calibrated electronic process that minimizes catheter movement and reduces risk of improper stent deployment. This could significantly increase the number of patients able to receive stent treatment, including those with peripheral artery disease. Currently, many surgeons decide not to use stent treatment on these patients because the smaller arteries increase the procedure’s riskiness.

In addition to the top Schoofs Prize, Gerold also won the Sorenson Best Design Notebook Award and $1,000.

The winner of the Tong Prototype Prize, the second major Innovation Days competition, and $2,500, is electrical and computer engineering student Ray Uhen, who invented Plane Balance. The device is a slim flight-training tool that sits on top of the instrument panel and helps pilots monitor small aircraft coordination, or balance, via a system of color-coded LED lights.

A pilot himself since age 16, Uhen says developing a feel for coordinated flight is among the most difficult tasks for students. Plane Balance will be easier for students to see and interpret than the current small level often located in a far corner of the instrument panel. Maintaining coordination is especially key during turns, where stalling can occur if the wings are off balance.

Other Schoofs Prize winners include:

– Second place and $7,000: Breast Milk Filter for HIV-1, a reusable nipple shield that directs breast milk through micro-sized pores with a peptide that binds to HIV-1 proteins, thereby removing the virus from the milk while retaining other nutrients. Invented by biomedical engineering students Kimberli Kamer and Laura Zeitler.

– Third place and $4,000: Glide Luggage, a suitcase with robust omni-directional wheels to allow a user to move the luggage smoothly in any direction. Invented by mechanical engineering students Scott Johanek and Jeff Inhofer.

– Fourth place and $1,000: Plane Balance, a slim flight-training tool that sits on top of the instrument panel and helps pilots monitor small aircraft coordination via a system of color-coded LED lights. Invented by electrical and computer engineering student Ray Uhen.

Other Tong Prototype Prize winners include:

– Second place and $1,250: Brew Fresh, an automated, spray-nozzle keg and line-cleaning system for home brewers built into a compartment that attaches to a two-door refrigerator, eliminating time-intensive cleaning processes and the need for an expensive, separate kegarator. Invented by chemical and biological engineering students Ben Schneider and Victoria Yakovleva.

– Third place and $700: Master Key, a cylinder-shaped attachment that functionally converts an electric drill into a reciprocating saw, hammer drill or a variety of oscillatory tools, such as sanding or grinding discs. Invented by engineering mechanics and astronautics student Steve Wisser.

Additional prize winners include:

– Sorenson Best Design Notebook Award and $1,000: MicroMag Stent Deployment System.

– Younkle Best Presentation Award and $1,000: Master Key.