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Pitt Innovation Awards $485,000 for Health Care Solutions

October 14th, 2020


The Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh®) today awarded a total of $485,000 to nine projects that propose creative solutions to address health problems including diagnostics, treatments and interventions. The challenge, which is in its seventh year, was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).  

“The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the PInCh teams from creating innovative and unique solutions to improve health,” said Steven Reis, M.D., director of the CTSI and associate senior vice chancellor for clinical and translational research in Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences. “We are grateful for the work that each of the finalists put into their ideas. They all found ways to solve health issues that affect everyday life.” 

Nine project teams progressed to the final round where they pitched their ideas to a panel of judges to win up to $100,000. All finalists were guaranteed a minimum of $25,000 and one year of project management support. 

This year, the CTSI incentivized solutions to address aspects of an epidemic or pandemic by offering an additional bonus award up to $25,000. Additional non-pandemic bonus awards were granted based on input from the judges. 

$100,000 awards:  

  • AWARE (Acoustic Waveform Respiratory Evaluation)  
    Pandemic bonus awardee. Receives additional $25,000 for a total of $125,000. 
    A smartphone app that enables at-home lung function monitoring for people with lung disorders, such as asthma, COPD and COVID-19. 

  • REPLICA: 3D-Sculpted Cartilage Implants 
    A custom-made cartilage ear implant that decreases complexity and operative time of facial surgeries, created with a state-of-the-art, high-precision cartilage milling process. 

  • LungTarget 
    A novel set of lung-targeting peptides applied to deliver small genetic molecules to treat the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis.  

$25,000 awards: 

  • Transplants for Kids 
    A software decision-support solution that matches specific pediatric organ donor and recipient characteristics in real time, reducing the deaths of children waiting for an organ transplant. 

  • SULT Stoppers: Novel Depression Therapeutics 
    Receives an additional $5,000 bonus award for a total of $30,000. 
    A specific and new depression treatment for the 40% of patients without an effective therapeutic. It works by inhibiting sulfotransferase to regulate serotonin in the brain and can be used in combination with existing drugs. 

  • Thinking in Speech 
    A cognitive therapy that helps children with autism independently cope with everyday events that cause stress by developing their ability to use “inner speech”—the voice in our heads we use to think. 

  • Sevo 
    A novel electroencephalogram lead clip designed for people with coarse and curly hair, bringing innovative human-centered design to provide a 15-times improvement in measurement accuracy for epilepsy, neurological disorders, stroke and brain injuries in the Black population. 

  • Patient Specific Expandable Foam (P-SEF) 
    Receives an additional $5,000 bonus award for a total of $30,000. 
    A polymer spray that expands to exact wound dimensions, saving critical time in the operating room and replacing ineffective manually cut foam blocks to provide an optimal wound healing environment. 

  • LemurDx 
    A smartwatch activity monitor that combines sensors with machine learning algorithms to accurately measure hyperactivity associated with ADHD diagnosis. 

Finalist videos and project pages can be viewed on the PInCh website