Pitt’s Innovation Challenge Awards $375,000

Issue Date: 
December 7, 2015

Three projects that aim to solve health issues across the lifespan were each awarded $100,000 prizes in the third Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh™). Three other projects received $25,000 awards. 

PInCh is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Office of the Provost, and the Innovation Institute. During the first phase of the competition, which began in May, 46 teams submitted a video entry to answer the question, “How can health be enhanced by bridging factors that impact life stages?” Sixteen teams were then asked to provide a written description of their projects, and finalists were chosen to present during the showcase. Six teams competed in the $100,000 category, and seven teams competed in the $25,000 category.

“PInCh invites some of the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds in Pittsburgh to present their ideas for innovation,” said CTSI Director Steven E. Reis, a professor of medicine at Pitt and the associate vice chancellor for clinical research, schools of the health sciences. “This competition gives them the boost they need to implement their projects and make true advancements in health care.”

In addition to the award funding, the winners will receive assistance from a project manager to begin implementing their ideas.

The $100,000 awards were given to:

NEATCAP A hearing protection device for babies in neonatal intensive care units that blocks noxious noise and aims to reduce infant stress, improve sleep, and promote brain development. Team: Fred Kimock, Michael Balsan, Jeanne Burns, and Emily Hirsch  

OXI-Dent A coating developed to solve the problem of dental implant inflammation. Team: Noah Snyder, Andrew Glowacki, James Eles, Kasey Catt, and Zhanhong Du

Phoenix A man-made prosthetic blood vessel that is gradually replaced by human tissue as it degrades in the body. An off‐the‐shelf product, the graft could be used in dialysis patients and for other conditions in which a replacement blood vessel is needed. Team: Yadong Wang, Prabir Roy-Chaudhury, Daniel Long, Eric Jeffries, Piyusha Gade, and Chelsea Stowell

The $25,000 awards were given to:

Feet for Life A project that uses a patient’s own fat to cushion painful feet so they can walk for a lifetime with less pain and suffering. Team: Jeffrey Gusenoff, Beth Gusenoff, and Kacey Marra

PIVOT A technology used to evaluate knee ligamentous injuries. A positive test indicates knee joint instability and is associated with future development of osteoarthritis in these patients. Team: Richard Debski and Volker Musahl

Working Together for Kids: A Community Solution A community training to teach senior citizens, adults, and teens how to provide young children in underserved communities with critical skills for school success, and to assess health benefits to all involved. Team: Judy Cameron, Jeanette Trauth, Neal Ryan, Tom Akiva, Martica Hall, and Meryl Butters