UBC researcher wins award for medical tech invention


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A College of British Columbia researcher is kicking the enhancement of a credit history-card-sized, disposable “biomedical sensor” – able of detecting not only COVID-19 but also other ailments pretty much whenever, any put – into superior equipment.

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Sudip Shekhar, who is at this time an associate professor in electrical/personal computer engineering at UBC, been given recognition earlier this month in the form of a $3-million Schmidt Science Polymaths Award that is aimed at supporting tenured researchers all-around the environment in driving interdisciplinary study.

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Shekhar, the initially Canadian to get the award, will acquire the funding over a 5-12 months period in his quest to deliver his biomedical sensor device into market place. An early proof of principle, working with the engineering that would go into an eventual miniaturized device, has previously proved successful in detecting COVID-19 in men and women.

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“It’s a nice surprise,” Shekar mentioned of winning the award grant. “There’s loads of operate to be accomplished, but definitely, this is a really generous reward and a nod to stimulate [researchers] to go and do dangerous investigate.”

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The device Shekhar envisioned, he said, would be something that can be readily carried by any personal human being for testing for illnesses anyplace he or she goes. The products – which acknowledge a sample of human body fluids this kind of as blood, saliva or urine – would include chipsets connected to Bluetooth networks that would quickly transmit the facts collected from the sample to on the net examination/analysis techniques.

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The effects would then be transmitted again to the product to relay the success of the examination, Shekhar claimed.

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“My qualifications in chip style,” mentioned Shekhar, a previous circuits study scientist at tech giant Intel. “I create chips that have now been applied in facts centres all all-around the planet. What the Schmidt Award wants researchers to do is to choose the cash and do analysis which is dangerous and possibly even a pivot [out of one particular discipline].

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“And when COVID hit, the only work you could do is COVID-relevant get the job done. My colleagues – engineering professor Lukas Christowski and biomedical units researcher Karen Cheung – were working on biosensors. And when we begun working together, we started looking at things in a distinctive viewpoint in knowing that what would definitely impact the entire world is not an additional huge, high-priced device but a scaled-down, incredibly inexpensive 1 – a little something that men and women can use commonly in their individual properties.”

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Via Dream Photonics Inc., a corporation co-started by Christowski and Shekhar, the scientists made the proof of concept this yr that detected COVID-19 in a sample. Shekhar included he is hopeful that – inside of a year’s time – the team will be capable to deliver a credit score-card-sized prototype to exhibit to opportunity business companions for an eventual current market-entry a number of several years down the line.

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The attainable apps, he extra, is limitless. The gadgets can be utilized to keep an eye on the wellness of men and women dwelling in remote communities, for instance, in which access to health professionals and professional medical laboratories could be non-existent.

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Alternatively, the devices can be manufactured obtainable at hospitals and doctors’ workplaces to be given out to specific patients for a nearer, far more well timed access to analysis. Though it doesn’t switch the need to see serious medical professionals, the units to build possibilities that may possibly boost health outcomes of folks who may perhaps not be ready to see their doctors immediately.

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What is wanted now, Shekhar explained, is for fascinated associates to reach out – mainly because these types of investigation isn’t low-priced even with the award grant funding.

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“In Vancouver and B.C., we have a lot of persons who have taken know-how out of university and commercialized it productively,” he reported. “We’d like to chat with these individuals possibly they would carry skills that we do not have correct now. Maybe they will explain to us about purposes that we have not realized nonetheless… We’d definitely like to increase out collaborative attempts.”

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