At the intersection of medical research and engineering, Cornell University Biomedical Devices Team works on various projects that can be applied in real-world medical settings.
Founded in 2018 by a group of biology students eager for more hands-on work, the team has now grown to three subteams, Product Development, Policy and Practices and Business, consisting of members from many different colleges.
“The founding members and I were from Cornell Surgical Society. It was a group of us with a passion for medicine interested in designing surgical devices for possible competitions,” CUBMD project team lead Oscar Liu ’21 said.
CUBMD’s goal is to design effective biomedical devices that can conceivably be used in real-life healthcare settings. Designing such devices involves planning and product development as well as research on health policy and market value.
According to Liu, the team addresses two main components of product design: reducing the extravagant prices associated with contemporary medical products and identifying real clinical needs and deficiencies in healthcare.
CUBMD submits its projects to competitions such as the Create the Future Design Contest, which is sponsored by science and tech companies such as Siemens, Intel and HP.
CUBMD’s 2018 Project, FastenPro, is a device that secures the screws used in orthopedic surgery. It would eliminate “back out,” in which the screws in the bone loosen, and thus contribute to faster operation and healing times. In addition to the design thought process, their entry includes cost analyses and comparisons to current options.
Lead of the business team Varun Rohatgi ’21 works with members to determine the clinical need for products and how to realistically implement their project within typical healthcare settings.
“Over the summer, I sat in on meetings at my local clinic,” Rohatgi explained. His team evaluates items like costs of production, market opportunities, and other restraints that would apply should the product actually go to the market.
Jonah Schieber ’21 is a member of the Policy and Practices subteam, which collaborates closely with the Business subteam. He and other members of the subteam research product patenting and how their products could be covered by insurance.
The team also reaches out to professors and healthcare practitioners and studies past examples of innovations in the healthcare field to improve their own production and marketing techniques.
Rachel Lee ’22, also on the Product Development Team, described how CUBMD first caught her eye as a special opportunity to bring her background as a chemical engineering major to medical questions. Lee has enjoyed getting to know people of different backgrounds through one project.
For her, working with people of different backgrounds but the same mentality was another unique opportunity presented by the team.
“You might pitch a new idea, and someone on the team could show you how to see it in a new perspective,” Lee said.
CUBMD is currently recruiting members for the fall and is set to become a registered project team by the spring, according to Sanghvi.