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Designing impactful biophotonics solutions to healthcare needs

Nicholas Durr, PhD

As the director of undergraduate design programs at JHU, each year I work with hundreds of Biomedical Engineering students in dozens of teams, on applications ranging from neurosurgery to infection control in low-resource settings. Our design process encourages students to first develop a deep understanding of a healthcare need and surrounding constraints before creating an appropriate solution. This includes identifying risks and opportunities in not only the technological feasibility, but also in value proposition to stakeholders, business model viability, intellectual property, regulatory pathways, provider/patient workflow, fundability, pricing, development cost, verification/validation requirements, and usability. With an understanding of these constraints, we require that every student define and articulate the best route to an impactful solution—a skill that we believe Biomedical Engineers are uniquely positioned to perfect.
In this talk, I will present our design program structure with examples of successful projects that we have incubated. As a medical imaging researcher, I will also describe how to develop a synergistic relationship with university design programs by increasing the probability of an imaging technology being identified as the optimal solution. Lastly, I will describe how a needs-driven framework has influenced my own research projects by guiding them to creative solution spaces in (a) wide-field 3D endoscopy for improving adenoma detection rates in colorectal cancer screening and (b) wavefront aberrometery for improving access to eye care in low-resource settings.

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