Medical School students’ ideas win $20,000 research funding on US visit

Students from Swansea University Medical School, who took part in a recent summer programme at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, have won over $20,000 in research funding for their ideas for innovation in health care.

The students, who follow courses in Applied Medical Sciences in Swansea, spent six weeks at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), a health sciences university located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, which is the largest medical complex in the world, containing 21 hospitals.  BCM has been ranked as one of the top medical schools for research in the US.

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Picture: the Swansea Applied Medical Sciences students, pictured in Texas during their recent visit

The visit to BCM is the latest link with Texas to stem from the University’s flourishing strategic partnership with top universities in the US state.

Whilst at BCM, the students were working on individual and group projects which required them to develop proposals for new medical devices.

There was a double success for the Swansea students, in both individual and team projects, bringing them over $20,000 in funding to take their ideas further:

Swansea project wins team innovation challenge – a new way to prevent pressure ulcers

A Swansea University team of four have been announced as joint winners of the BCM annual innovation challenge, for their proposal for a device that tackles pressure ulcers, which cost the US healthcare system up to $12 billion a year.  

The challenge is run each year by the Department of Surgery Incubator at BCM, under the leadership of Dr Stuart Corr. 

The Swansea team’s entry beat off competition from researchers across the USA, including Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Washington DC.

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Known as Seren, the Welsh word for “star”, the team consisted of (l-r in picture above):

  • Julie Dababneh, aged 19, from Swansea
  • Gloria Prince, aged 19, from Reading
  • Maanasy (Maisy) Nadarajah, aged 20, from Bournemouth
  • Jemima Jones, aged 20, from Kidwelly

400 x 532Their proposal was for a device that sensed lack of movement, as they explain in their submission:

“Our product, `Setress`, is a mattress topper which measures the pressure exerted by the body over time. The device is switched ON when the pressure remains constant over a certain period of time.

Consequently, it will start a massaging sequence to redistribute pressure that consists of an alternating ‘up-down’ motion mechanism.”

The winners were decided by a combination of public votes and votes from a panel of expert judges.  Team Seren were announced as one of two joint winners, and will share the $25,000 award with the other winning entry. 

The award is to help them translate their idea into reality, covering research & development costs, marketing tools, online exposure, and networking.  

BCM adds that: “The winners will have the full support of BCM and its extended, extensive network to help either prototype, develop, expose, and/or commercialize their idea for clinical implementation”.

Individual research projects - winners:

Three Swansea Medical School students were also awarded funding for their individual research projects, which were on a medical issue of their own choosing. 

The students presented their ideas in elevator-style pitches at JLABS, the Johnson and Johnson Innovation lab located in the Texas Medical Center, to a panel which included Dr Stuart Corr, Director of Technology Development at Baylor College of Medicine and Dr Billy Cohn, Vice President for Johnson &Johnson Medical Devices Companies and the Director of the new Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center.  

Following the pitches, three of the Swansea University students were awarded funds to further develop their ideas:

  • Tiffany Ndukwe Aged 19, from London:  tackling the side-effects of painkillers. Award - $5000
  • Alex Fish, aged 22, from Melksham, Wiltshire:  treating urinary tract infections.  Award, $2000
  • Jemima Jones, Aged 20, from Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire:  the next generation of hypodermic needles.  Award $1000

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Tiffany Ndukwe (pictured) said:

"I am delighted to have been awarded $5,000 R&D funds to take an idea that I am passionate about into hospitals around the world to save lives.

I am very grateful to everyone who made this opportunity possible."

Swansea University Texas Partnership

Swansea University Medical School

“Proud of our students’ achievements”

Dr Lisa Wallace, Programme Director, BSc Applied Medical Sciences, said:

“We are extremely proud of what our students have achieved during their six weeks in Texas. The Applied Medical Sciences programme includes strands on both enterprise and innovation and medical sciences research and this has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain first-hand experience of these in a world-class setting.

The success of our students speaks volumes about their abilities and potential and we are excited to see how their ideas develop in future.”

Dr Caroline Coleman-Davies, Administrative Head, International Strategic Partnerships:

“Our Strategic Partnership allows us to offer our students a range of opportunities to spend time in Texas and we are delighted to have been able to work with our colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine on this exciting and innovative programme. The experience has been truly life changing for our students and their achievements are wonderful to see.”