An invention that strips cancer tumors' ability to hide from the body's immune system, and a better way to shock hearts back into their normal rhythm took top honors today at America's most prestigious collegiate inventing competition.
"We had a fantastic diversity of creative teams and ingenious inventions this year, which made being a Competition judge almost as hard as being an inventor," said Steve Sasson, inventor of the digital camera, and an undergraduate panel judge at the 23rd annual Competition, held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria.
The Stanford team of Aaron Ring and Kipp Weiskopf won the graduate student category with a molecular invention--high-affinity SIRPα variants--that dramatically enhances the ability of the body's immune system to kill cancer cells.
A four-student Johns Hopkins University team won the undergraduate category with PrestoPatch, a three (rather than two) patch external heart shock system that could greatly improve the effectiveness of shocks to reset hearts with irregular rhythms, or arrhythmia.
The 2013 Competition involved a total of 31 students in 13 finalist teams (six undergraduate, and seven graduate) from universities and colleges across the United States.
"The Collegiate Inventors Competition finalists we are celebrating today do not just represent individual inventors or inventions, but a culture of invention and innovation in America," says Teresa Stanek Rea, the Deputy Director of the USPTO and the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. "These young men and women are leaders in ensuring the future social, medical and economic health and prosperity of the United States."
In the undergraduate category the bronze medal went to the University of Utah team for their mechanical leech. The invention substitutes a series of small hypodermic needles for the blood-sucking parasite still used today in hospitals post-surgically to improve blood circulation.
"For the past two days it's been an honor and an amazing personal experience to be a judge for the graduate-level inventors," says Jeffrey Pan, one of the graduate panel judges, representing CIC presenting sponsor the AbbVie Foundation. "Each of these young inventors and their inventions represents not just a single insight, but something bigger. When it comes to inventing, they get it."
The graduate silver medal winner is Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Nisarg Shah for an implant with a growth surface to improve closing large, traumatic wounds. The graduate bronze medal winner is Johns Hopkins University's Isaac Kinde for his invention of an early detection system for ovarian and endometrial cancers.
A Harvard University team is the undergraduate silver medal winner with ChemoPatch, an invention that could dramatically change cancer treatment by enabling home-based chemotherapy.
The graduate-level gold medal team received $15,000 and $5,000 for their advisor; the undergraduate team received $12,500, and $4,000 for their advisor, from a total of almost $70 thousand in prizes provided by the Competition sponsors.