Health Innovation Opportunities for 2017-2018 Stanford Biodesign Faculty Fellows

The Stanford Biodesign Fellowship Program provides participants with advanced training and mentoring in health technology innovation over a six-month period. Of the twelve participants for 2017-2018, six were partially funded by the Child Health Research Institute. The program concluded with a final presentation in May where participants presented ideas for addressing clinical needs and health challenges. (Photo credit: Lyn Denend, Stanford Biodesign)

Friday, June 1, 2018

By Lyn Denend

The Stanford Biodesign Faculty Fellowship provides motivated Stanford University faculty members from the schools of Medicine and Engineering with advanced training and mentoring in health technology innovation.

Over approximately 6 months, participants learn the biodesign innovation process – a rigorous, proven approach for identifying important innovation opportunities within or outside their departments, inventing cost-effective solutions, and—importantly—preparing to implement those inventions to improve patient care. Through the experience, faculty members also gain an understanding of technology translation challenges and opportunities, and develop a robust network of health technology contacts within and outside the university.

The 2017-18 cohort of fellows included 12 Stanford faculty members representing departments such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, pulmonology, orthopedic surgery, trauma and general surgery, cardiac and cardiothoracic surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, and radiology.

Six of the participants were partially funded by the Stanford Child Health Research Institute (CHRI):

  • Scott Hoffinger, MDClinical Professor, Orthopedic Surgery – Project concept: A way to diagnose compartment syndrome in the extremities before irreversible tissue damage occurs, with accuracy sufficient to prevent the need for prophylactic fasciotomy.
  • Wui Ip, MDClinical Instructor, Pediatrics – Project concept: A way to maintain peripheral vascular access in hospitalized patients to minimize its failure.
  • Doff McElhinney, MD, Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery and Pediatrics Cardiology – Project concept: A way to mitigate the physiologic consequences of functional tricuspid regurgitation in patients with this condition to provide symptom improvement.
  • Priya Prahalad, MD, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Pediatric Endocrinology – Project concept: A way to deliver timely, accurate medical advice to patients/caregivers to decrease unnecessary ED and urgent care visits.
  • Tom Robinson, MPH, MDProfessor in Child Health, Pediatrics and Medicine – Project concept: A way to make effective behavioral weight control more scalable and cost-effective for overweight children in order to reduce children’s obesity-related morbidities.
  • Avnesh Thakor, MD, PhDAssistant Professor of Pediatric Radiology – Project concept: A way to self-screen for cervical cancer in women aged 21-65 in order to improve screening compliance according to national guidelines.

When the fellows presented their projects at the end of the program in late May, it was clear they had identified many interesting and important unmet clinical needs. The Biodesign Faculty Fellows have begun inventing novel solutions to these – and other – pressing health problems, and many of them will continue advancing their projects toward patient care beyond the formal conclusion of the program.

According to Ryan Van Wert, MD, clinical assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine and the fellowship program's assistant director, the fellows made tremendous progress during the course of their training. “Not only did they learn a repeatable process for technology innovation and translation, but they came up with some really compelling projects. We look forward to seeing how this talented group leverages their training to positively impact pediatric and adult patients going forward.”

As for the fellows, several remarked how much they valued the experience and, in particular, having the chance to collaborate with other faculty members representing so many different departments. Scott Hoffinger, MD, clinical professor of pediatric orthopedic surgery, summed it up this way: “Over these last few months, participating in the Biodesign Faculty Fellows program has been the favorite part of my day.”

More information about the Biodesign Faculty Fellows is available online at

Lyn Denend is the Director for Academic Programs at Stanford Biodesign and a Lecturer for the Stanford School of Medicine.