Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MIT's Technology Research

The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT awarded $800,000 in grants to ten MIT research teams currently working on early stage technologies. The projects may contribute to diagnostics, medical procedures, diabetes treatment, vision correction, software, high power electronics, and solar energy efficiency.

Specifically, some of the grants were awarded to:

• Develop an on-chip diagnostic device for use in clinical settings to use at the point-of-care
• Develop a drug delivery device to treat cerebral edema to reduce the systemic side-effects typical for conventional treatments
• Develop tissue specific adhesive materials to match tissue types so that leakage can be reduced after surgery
• Develop a low cost mobile diagnostic tool for self-evaluation of eye refractive disorders
• Develop a robotically steered electrode for image-guided thermal ablation of tumors that could eliminate the need for open or laparoscopic surgery for some patients.
• Develop a wearable sensor to use to continuously monitor diabetic patients

The Deshpande Center’s goal is to move technologies from the MIT laboratories to the marketplace. The Center helps grantees assess and reduce the technical and market risks associated with their innovations.

In addition to financial support, the Center’s network of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academic and legal experts help recipients assess the commercial potential of their innovations so they can develop their business plans or licensing strategies.

The Center has provided $11,000,000 in grants to more than 70 MIT research projects since 2002. Twenty two projects have spun out of the center as independent start-ups, and collectively raised over $180 million in outside financing from investors.

In the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, a graduate student Ming-Zher Poh is working on developing a new system to continuously check a person’s vital signs, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure. He wants to make it possible for a person to be positioned in front of a low-cost camera such as a laptop computer’s built-in webcam and be monitored. The concept of using a camera to detect health information is not entirely new, but the ability to use low-cost camera equipment to achieve the result is new.

Poh suggests that such noninvasive monitoring could prove useful where attaching sensors to the body would be difficult or uncomfortable particularly when monitoring burn victims or newborns. It could also be used for initial telemedicine screening tests over the internet using a patient’s own webcam or cell phone camera.

Poh’s project won third place and a prize of $50,000 in the second annual Primary Healthcare Competition run by the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CMIT). CMIT was created by a group of physicians at Boston-area hospitals in collaboration with the mechanical engineering faculty at MIT to develop new devices to meet clinical needs.