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PInCh Awards $475K to Spur Innovation Around Human Performance

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Erin Hare, Ph.D.
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PITTSBURGH - A total of $475,000 in prizes was awarded at the Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh®) final event, in which teams competed with projects aimed at improving human performance, which was defined broadly as benefitting physiological or psychological functioning of healthy people or those with chronic disease.

The challenge, which is in its fifth year, was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). 

Winners of the 2018 Pitt Innovation Challenge.“The PInCh competition is designed to provide teams of researchers, innovators, clinicians and community collaborators with a venue to create novel solutions to important clinical and public health problems,” said CTSI director Steven Reis, M.D., who also is associate vice chancellor for clinical research, health sciences, and a professor of medicine at Pitt. 

After two rounds of pre-selection, 14 teams were invited to compete at the final event at the University Club in Oakland. The six $100,000 finalists gave their pitch to a live judging panel and audience. The eight $25,000 finalists competed in a poster session the same evening. 

This year, teams addressing respiratory health or sleep could also take home a bonus award sponsored by Philips in the amount of $25,000. 

$100,000 awards (bonus award winner denoted with asterisks):

  • Health-E-Nose: A cancer detection and health assessment platform that employs gas sensors to analyze human breath for the presence of disease biomarkers.
  • LungHealth-E*: A novel method that uses a specific small molecule to target the root cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and helps patients breathe easier.
  • ThreadRite IV: A modified standard IV catheter which measures electrical resistance and lets the care provider know instantly with a light, tone and vibration when the needle has entered a vessel.

$25,000 awards:

  • motionSleeve: A wearable device that detects muscle tremors in real-time using ultrasound sensors, and then provides muscle stimulation to alleviate the tremor.
  • Pediatric ICU Quantitative EEG (PIQUE) Sleep: An innovative approach to substantially improve the timeliness and dose selection of sedative analgesic medications for children in the pediatric intensive care unit.
  • PopSole: A novel insole designed to reduce post-operative pain, maximize healing and encourage early ambulation and return to function.
  • Gus Gear Central Line Wrap: A novel large vein IV wrap that uses a system of locking clips and snap tabs to secure a catheter and prevent it from pulling and sustaining damage.
  • OK2StandUP: A personalized alert system that prevents falls related to dizziness using a health monitor, mobile app and cloud-based predictive analytics software. 
  • Quantitative Ultrasound to Prevent Tendon Injury (QUPTI): A novel ultrasound technique to inform rapid medical decisions in the clinic or on the field by instantly assessing location-specific tendon damage and weakening.

Finalist and semi-finalist videos can be viewed on the PInCh website. Click the image above to download a high resolution version. Credit: Mike Drazdzinski / University of Pittsburgh.