A team of U bioengineering undergraduates won the grand prize of $15,000 at the Bench-to-Bedside competition on April 9. The grand prize is awarded to the best team that excels in all areas of competition and represents the best in business, engineering and medicine.

For their winning design, bioengineering students Jeremy Hammer, Nick Rejali, Annicka Carter and Harjit Kaur developed an anti-infective intraocular needle, designed to keep bacteria on a hypodermic needle from infecting the eye while treating retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, which affects about 5 percent of the population at some point in their life.

The winning team extended efforts started in the bioengineering capstone design class, called bioDesign. The team also received the “Best Demonstration of the Design Process” award in the 2013 bioDesign class, taught by U bioengineering faculty members Bob Hitchcock, Tomasz Petelenz and Kelly Broadhead.

“The bioDesign teaching team is extremely excited that the anti-infective intraocular needle team won the Grand Prize at the 2014 Bench-to-Bedside competition,” says Broadhead, associate professor (lecturer) and undergraduate advisor in the U’s Department of Bioengineering. “The team’s effective implementation of the design process has led to a robust and well documented design that is ready to move into preclinical trials and further business development.”

Sponsored by the U’s Center for Medical Innovation, the Bench-to-Bedside competition introduces students to medical device innovation. Student teams form into multidisciplinary start-up companies and are given the task of identifying an unmet clinical need. The teams have six months and a $500 development fund to develop medical device concepts that address their identified need. The team projects are evaluated and scored for business strategy, design quality and healthcare impact by a VIP panel of judges.

Watch a video of Carter describing the anti-infective intraocular needle

Learn more about the Bench-to-Bedside competition