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Ian’s Friends Foundation Awards Capstone Projects
Ian’s Friends Foundation Recognizes Best Biomedical Engineering Senior Capstone Project Ideas
October 7, 2016

One week after a great performance at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Capstone Design Expo on April 23, nine Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) student teams got another chance to showcase their senior projects in a different competitive setting. 

Ian’s Friends Foundation, which supports pediatric brain tumor research, sponsored a competition on April 30 focusing on issues associated with pediatric brain cancer. Students presented their work before a panel of medical doctors, engineers, and a spectrum of biomedical educators. 

The winning team, VenTrickle, presented a novel wireless pressure communicating cerebral shunt product called CranioCheck, which is designed to instantly alert patients if cerebrospinal fluid pressure increases to unsafe levels. CranioCheck consists of sensors, a tiny battery, and wireless Bluetooth technology to communicate with a customized phone app. The judges felt this product could make a significant impact in the medical device industry.

The winning team, consisting of Bailey Ernstes, Jacob Kazlow, and Carrie Simpson, received a $5,000 first-place award from Ian’s Friends Foundation.

The second place team, Coalesce, won $1,000 for its redesigned spinal implant that uses dentin as a spinal fusion material. Team members are Beth Carpenter, Naser Ibrahim, Kavya Muddukumar, and Karthik Nathan. The third place team, VerteVision, won $500 for an automated allograft bone shaping machine envisioned for use in the operating room. Team members are Katie Byrum, Cambre Kelly, Greg O’Neal, and Becky Wyche.

“I thought the competition was incredible,” said Phil Yagoda, founder of Ian’s Friends Foundation. “For students that have no prior knowledge of pediatric brain tumors and associated medical issues, and to be able to get up to speed and then actually create innovative products in such a short time, is a testament to the program and professors in the BME department. It was difficult to select a winner from among the great projects. Georgia Tech and Emory have been great partners over the years that care so much about getting positive results.” 

Yagoda and his wife Cheryl established Ian’s Friends Foundation when their then two-year old son, Ian, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The foundation’s mission is to undertake and support initiatives at research institutions around the country, focusing on the development of new therapeutic methodologies and treatments for pediatric brain tumors.

“We are so impressed by the minds at Georgia Tech and Emory. Every student team came up with amazing projects,” said Cheryl Yagoda. “These projects are the future of science and will help children and doctors in the operating room for years to come.”

You can find information about Ian’s Friends Foundation here:

Walter Rich
Communications Manager
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology