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Learn more about how Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering is training the next generation of engineers with an expanding design curriculum that challenges them to create practical solutions to issues faced across the spectrum of medicine.

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Published by Duke Pratt School of Engineering, 2018-10-12 14:17:55

Duke BME Magazine Fall 2018

Learn more about how Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering is training the next generation of engineers with an expanding design curriculum that challenges them to create practical solutions to issues faced across the spectrum of medicine.

FALL 2018 DukeBME


The Design Issue

inside: Design from Day One 14 • Designer Microbes 20 • Global Collaborations 22

Duke BME Magazine is Contents
published twice yearly
Mailing Address:
Room 1427, 2 Letter from the Chair

Fitzpatrick Center 3 Duke BME by the Numbers
4 COVER | A Year of Real-World Design
101 Science Drive,
Campus Box 90281, Duke BME’s re-imagined design course challenges students to design
Durham, NC 27708-0281 solutions to real patients’ problems

Phone: 12 A Path for Post-Grad Success
BME.DUKE.EDU Industry-focused fellowship prepares students for jobs after graduation

Editorial Director: 14 A Prototype Becomes a Paradigm
Ashutosh Chilkoti
Engineering students hit the ground running with a hands-on,
Editor: first-year design program
Michaela Kane,
Duke BME Communications 18 A Showcase for BME Design

Art Director: Student projects take center stage at the senior design fair
Lacey Chylack,
Phase 5 Creative, Inc. 20 From Cell Cultures to Mass Markets

Photos: Chris Hildreth: Mike Lynch’s design course adds an entrepreneurial flair
cover, pages 4, 7, 8, 10, to the standard design formula

12, 13 22 Design on a Global Scale
Michaela Kane: pages 5, 11,
From Uganda to Guatemala, Duke BME design projects make an impact
17, 18, 19, 28, back cover far outside the classroom
Megan Mendenhall: page 2
25 Engineering New Design Opportunities
Les Todd: Inside cover,
15, 16, 17 A Q&A with new faculty member Eric Richardson

Reagan Lunn: page 12 26 A New Space for Innovative Design
Jon Gardiner: page 21
Michael McCann: pages Exploring Duke University’s new engineering building

26, 27 28 A Look At Our Creative Curriculum
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson:

Page 27

Photography by
Chris Hildreth

Students visit
the Foundry, a
collaborative design
space for students
at Duke launched by
Duke Engineering.


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

In Duke BME, we believe our program must constantly evolve and
improve in ways that best serve a global society. We aim to meet this
goal by training the next generation of engineers through an immersive,
design-focused education that challenges them to create practical
solutions to issues we face across the spectrum of medicine.

In this issue of Duke BME Magazine, we explore different aspects of
our expanding curriculum, from the creation of a two-semester medical
device design course to the global impact of projects that originated in
Duke BME.

An education centered on design is a signature of the BME department
at Duke, and we hope that you enjoy reading about the efforts of our
outstanding faculty and students to create innovative solutions that
serve our global community.

Ashutosh Chilkoti

Duke Biomedical Engineering

2 | DUKEBME Magazine

Duke BME by the Numbers Funding:

21 AIMBE Fellows $32.7M

40 7 BMES Fellows in research expenditures in
Tenured or FY 18, a 42 percent increase
tenure-track faculty 5 Members of the National over the past three years.
Academy of Inventors:
Joseph Izatt, Nimmi Ramanujam, Rankings:
Tuan Vo-Dinh, Jennifer West
and Ashutosh Chilkoti #3

4 Society for Biomaterials
Clemson Award Winners since in the world in
2010::Jennifer West, Ashutosh ShanghaiRanking’s global
Chilkoti, William (Monty) Reichert ranking of biomedical
and Kam Leong engineering programs
(Academic Ranking of World
4 SPIE and OSA fellows: Universities)
Nimmi Ramanujam, Joseph Izatt,
Adam Wax and Tuan Vo-Dinh #3

2 Members of the National in the country for highest
Academy of Engineering: median starting salary for
Jennifer West and Blake Wilson* biomedical engineers—$70,000
(Medical Product Manufacturing
2 NIH pre-doctoral training grants: Medical News)
Imaging (Nightingale, PI) and Biomolecular and
Tissue Engineering (Gersbach, PI) #4

18 Startups created by faculty in Duke BME in the United States for
undergraduate and graduate
BME programs in U.S. News
& World Report Best College

* Consulting Faculty

4 | DUKEBME Magazine



A Year of
Real-World Design

Centered on collaboration with Duke Medicine clinicians, Duke BME’s re-imagined
design course challenges students to design solutions to real patients’ problems

By using a motorized Every engineer knows that the design pro- using their lungs to create a pressure differential.
butterfly valve in their cess is not a straightforward one. For Once the pressure meets the designated threshold,
design, the Breath Emelina Vienneau, Diana Arguijo, Sarah air will move through the tube and patients will
of Fresh Air team Jacobs and Kayla Wright-Freeman, the have ‘exercised’ their respiratory muscles.
created a tool that serpentine route to a finished product was fresh
could be used for in their minds as they presented their final senior But current RMT devices have drawbacks. Most
both inspiratory and design project, “A Breath of Fresh Air,” during use unidirectional valves, so patients need two sep-
expiratory breathing the Spring 2018 Duke BME Design Symposium. arate devices to strengthen their inspiratory and
exercises. Patients These biomedical engineering students had spent expiratory muscles. The range of the spring-loaded
can breathe into the better part of a year creating a respiratory valves is also limited, so the devices don’t always
the valve and see muscle training (RMT) device before scrapping offer the resistance levels patients require.
a reading of their their initial design for a new one––less than a
respiratory strength month before their final presentations. The team’s final design was specifically creat-
on the screen. ed to address these shortcomings. 3D-printed in
“We had been working on this project through- bright pink filament, their RMT device boasts a
out the fall and spring semesters, but it felt like it single breathing tube containing a bidirectional
wasn’t coming together in the way we envisioned,” motorized butterfly valve. The air tube also in-
says Vienneau. “We had this nagging sense that corporates a differential pressure sensor that mea-
our initial approach wasn’t solving the right prob- sures the flow rate within the tube to indicate a
lem for Harrison Jones, our clinical partner, or for successful or unsuccessful breath.
the patients, so we decided to start over.”
“We created this brand-new tool in a month,
Typically, when people have weak respiratory and it is unlike anything that’s currently on the
muscles—common in conditions such as Pompe market,” says Vienneau. “The motorized butter-
disease or COPD––physicians prescribe respirato- fly valve allowed us to use a single air tube, fully
ry therapy that trains their lungs as they inhale and automate the device, and create a full range of re-
exhale against resistance, just as someone would sistances. The prototype was well-received by our
lift weights to gain strength. Traditional RMT professors and our clinical partner. In the end, we
devices include a tube containing a spring-load- were really glad we scrapped the first design and
ed threshold valve, which determines the air re- started again, because we made a better product
sistance. Patients inhale or exhale into the tube, that solved the problem at hand in a more elegant

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 5

Above: Students Understanding Doctors’ Dilemmas modified stethoscope that could monitor cardiac
created multiple The Fresh Air team was among the first to pilot abnormalities, a biometrics recording device that
iterations of a new two-semester design program offered by could track infant respiration and heart rate and
the dials for Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. send the information to a doctor’s phone, and a
their endoscopy Spearheaded by Mark Palmeri, a physician-engi- handheld scanner that used ultrasonic waves to
ergonomics neer and professor of the practice in BME, the examine bone density.
project to ensure program offers an immersive design curriculum
their design was that challenges students to solve the real-world “We weren’t able to test these devices in the neo-
comfortable over a problems physicians encounter in medicine. natal population during that pilot year, but the stu-
range of motions. dents were able to create successful products that
“When I became chair of BME, I realized can continue to be developed,” says Palmeri. “After
that our design curriculum and course offerings seeing what they produced, I bought heavily into
needed to be revamped,” says Ashutosh Chilkoti. the idea of year-long design courses being highly
“Our design course was one semester long, which beneficial for students, and it felt like a natural di-
is too short to traverse the path from identifying rection in which to grow our design curriculum.”

“Our goal was to ensure that the student design teams had Design Moves Downtown
Finding space for the new curriculum
authentic problems to sink their teeth into, rather than was the final challenge.

something that felt like an academic exercise.” “We wanted to create a space that
served the needs of instructors and was
a place that students were happy to work
a clinical need to designing a prototype device in,” says Chilkoti. The team turned to the Chester-
that addresses that need. I quickly realized that field Building in downtown Durham, with shuttle
Mark—with his background as a designer of ul- service to and from Duke. Working with Marcus
trasound instrumentation, and his dual MD/PhD Henderson and Matt Brown, Duke BME’s labo-
degree—was the person who could design and pi- ratory instructors, the team created a customized
lot a new two-semester design course.” design suite that would serve the needs for an im-
The next step in the development of the new mersive two-semester senior design course.
program took root when Palmeri and Chilko- “This was exciting for all of us, because we had
ti attended a 2016 lunch discussion with Duke taught students in retrofitted spaces for years.
neonatologists who talked about the technolog- Now, following our inputs, architects had created
ical gaps they experienced in their work. With- a beautiful new lab expressly for teaching elec-
in a year, Palmeri had organized a two-semester tronics and electronic design,” says Henderson.
pilot program with master’s students focused on In the fall of 2017, Duke BME officially launched
medical devices for neonatology. By the end of the two-semester design program for undergradu-
2017, students had created projects including a ate students in the customized design suite.

6 | DUKEBME Magazine


With Palmeri at the helm as the instructor and accurately estimate the amount of bulking agent Above: Matt Brown
Brown spending much of his time at Chesterfield needed to manage symptoms. shows engineering
lending technical support, all the pieces for a new students how the
two-semester design experience were in place. Working with anesthesiologists, a group of stu- dials make it more
Students first enroll in BME 590: Fundamentals dents attempted to create an accurate and easy- comfortable to hold
of Design, where they choose a project and begin to-use neuromuscular paralysis monitor to track and operate an
to collaborate with a physician to assess the needs the muscle relaxation of patients under general endoscope.
and shadow them at Duke University Medical anesthesia. A second group sought to help anes-
Center. The following spring, students take BME thesiologists visualize the throat while inserting a Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 7
464: Medical Device Design to begin the actual breathing tube, creating a 3D-printed cage that
construction of their projects. encompassed a tiny camera.

To expand the pool of clinicians students could Another team worked with a laparoscopic sur-
work with, Palmeri partnered with Duke MEDx, geon to create a tool that would locate needles lost
an interdisciplinary initiative between the Pratt in a patient’s abdomen––a rare problem, but one
School of Engineering and the Duke University that can cause severe complications if not quickly
School of Medicine. “Our goal was to ensure that addressed. Physicians typically use intraoperative
the student design teams had authentic problems X-ray to search for lost needles, but the students
to sink their teeth into, rather than something that designed a wand-like device equipped with a met-
felt like an academic exercise. If they are going to al detection circuit to do the job more quickly.
work on something for a year, we want them to
be invested in it and feel like it will have a greater “I think we’re in a unique position in that we can
use,” says Palmeri. “We also wanted to leverage use our expanded design course to address clinical
Duke BME’s physical proximity to the Medical areas that have been neglected by the heavy hitters
Center to be able to give them that hands-on ex- in industry,” says Palmeri. “We are constantly see-
perience in a variety of different fields.” ing advances in fields like cardiology, but I think
Devices Across Disciplines we can make strides in neglected fields like respi-
Palmeri’s inaugural crop of design students spread ratory therapy or neonatology, especially if we can
across six projects and multiple disciplines. In give them long-term, personalized attention.”
the field of urology, one team created a device to
help manage Vescicoureteral Reflux (VUR), the And patients aren’t the only ones who will ben-
retrograde flow of urine from the bladder to the efit—three of Palmeri’s students worked with gas-
kidney. By creating a pressure transducer catheter, troenterologist Darin Dufault to help physicians
the team was able to measure the pressure chang- themselves. Doctors who perform numerous en-
es at the bladder wall and calculate the length doscopies, it turns out, often experience muscu-
of the intramural ureter, helping surgeons more loskeletal injuries during their careers due to the
repetitive motions required by the work.

“I graduated from medical school in the last 10
years, and I’ve already seen classmates who are scal-
ing back their practice because of repetitive motion
injuries or arthritis,” says Palmeri. “This endoscopy


Left: By creating the

year-long design

project was actually based on lots of anecdotal evi- Kevin Caves and Robert Malkin have already program, Mark
Palmeri wanted

dence from physicians about their discomfort, but expanded their design courses into two-semester to take advantage

there was never an effort to see how the ergonom- programs, and new faculty member Eric Rich- of Duke University
ics of these tools could be improved.” ardson will teach his own section of the course. Medical Center’s
Palmeri will also expand the projects students can proximity to
By creating different sizes of dials, the students work on in his own course, with plans to bring allow students to
were able to make the endoscope more comfort- back some of the neonatology devices from the work closely with
able to hold and reduced the repetitive motions pilot program and introduce more collaborations physicians.
physicians would need to make with their hands
and fingers, limiting their joint pain. with MEDx partners.
“Through observation, feedback and numerous The program has also captured the interest of Above: An early
prototype of the
prototype iterations, we were able to develop a Robin Rasor, the executive director of Duke Uni- Neuro Optimus tool
simple device that not only allows doctors with versity’s Office for Licensing and Ventures. After measures different

all sizes of hands to use safely and efficiently, but learning about the ergonomic endoscope project, parts of the hand

alleviates strain in the hand and maintains in- Rasor met with the team and gave them advice to track muscle
creased operator safety, even after a long day of about how they could commercialize their design relaxation.

procedures,” says Hannah Grossman, one of the for widespread use. Duke OLV also filed a patent
students from the team.
“Now we’ve got a viable
product with applications
that extend beyond our ini- “I think we’re in a unique position where we can use our
tial intentions––and that expanded design course to address areas that have been

is something the team is somewhat neglected by the heavy hitters in industry.”
proud of.”

From Classroom to application to protect their technology, as well as
Commercialization for the respiratory device developed by Vienneau
Just a year into the design program, student inter- and her team.
est is exceeding expectations.
“I was really impressed to see how much these
“When we opened the first course for students students were able to accomplish in just two se-
to sign up, it filled up in less than a minute and mesters,” says Rasor. “The fact that Duke OLV was
the waitlist was two to three times the course interested in pursuing, protecting and marketing
capacity. We had to turn students away,” says two projects within the first year of the program’s
Palmeri. “It’s always positive to see that the stu- creation really speaks to both the strength of the
dent interest is there, now we just have to grow program and the skills of the students in it.”
so we can get rid of that bottleneck and give stu-
dents the comprehensive design experience they Just as planned, the students grow through the
clearly want.” course as well. “The two-semester design program
was one of my most rewarding experiences at
There are already plans to do just that. BME’s Duke,” says Vienneau. “It was unique to have the

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 9

10 | DUKEBME Magazine


“When students graduate and go on to jobs, it’s programs like
this that allow them to hit the ground running.” ”

chance to build something that was clinically rel-
evant and provides a valuable service. That’s why
so many of us choose biomedical engineering to
begin with.”

For Palmeri, seeing his students’ success con-
firms the need for more immersive design pro-
grams that can prepare graduating students for
jobs in industry.

“The ability to bring a design to life is a ubiq-
uitous skillset, and we want to provide more op-
portunities for students to use the skills they’ve
developed at Duke to solve real problems,” he
says. “When students graduate and go on to jobs,
it’s programs like this that allow them to hit the
ground running.” n

Left: Lizbeth Leapo,
Ashish Vankara and
Matt Brown work in
the new design space
in the Chesterfield.
Center: The Breath
of Fresh Air team
presented their
project to faculty
and students during
the BME Design

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 11

A Path for
Post-Grad Success
An industry-focused BME Design Fellowship prepares students for jobs after graduation

A t the end of each academic year, Marc quickly started planning for ways to address the
Sommer, the director of undergrad- problem.”
uate studies, and Elizabeth (Libby)
Bucholz, the associate director of The result, launched in fall 2017, is the BME
undergraduate studies, organize a town hall for Design Fellows pathway—an intensive design
graduating seniors from Duke University’s De- program expressly for BME juniors interested in
partment of Biomedical Engineering. Over soda jobs in industry after graduation. Modeled after
and pizza, students are encouraged to discuss Duke Engineering’s successful Pratt Undergradu-
their experiences in the BME program––both ate Research Fellows program, the BME Design
good and bad––with their advisors and peers. The Fellows program spans three semesters and in-
town hall is one of the last events students attend cludes a guaranteed summer internship at a bio-
during their undergraduate career, and Bucholz tech company in nearby Research Triangle Park or
and Sommer aim to use their feedback to deter- at Duke University Medical Center.
mine how the department can evolve to best serve
the needs of the students. “Students who are interested in medical school
or graduate school will often enroll in the Pratt
While the discussions cover a range of topics, Research Fellows for intensive research experi-
one constant point has emerged over the years: ence, but there wasn’t an equivalent for students
students want a program tailored toward industry who would be applying for jobs,” says professor
experience. of the practice Mark Palmeri. “The BME Design
Fellows program allows us to fill that gap. If stu-
“It was clear that seniors who wanted to go to dents are looking to diversify their engineering
medical school or graduate school felt adequate- skillset and build up their resume, this new op-
ly prepared after graduation, but there was a large tion tees them up nicely.”
group of students who wanted to go into industry,
and they didn’t feel like they had all the skills they In fact, students in the BME Design Fellows
needed to be competitive job candidates,” says Bu- program graduate with nearly two solid years
cholz. “We didn’t think that was acceptable, so we of design experience. They start in the spring of
junior year with a design fundamentals course

12 | DUKEBME Magazine

Left: Elizabeth (Libby)
Bucholz speaks
with students in her
design course.

them,” says Bucholz. “The first class of Design Fel- Above: BME Design
lows got valuable first-hand interview experience, Fellows Deepthi
and they selected internships at local companies Nacharaju and
like MicroElastic or Blur that really excited them.” Gregory Goldman
Now, with the first class of 13 design fellows en- work on various
tering their senior year, Bucholz and Palmeri hope projects during their
the program grows to allow for an even stronger internship at Blur
immersive design experience. As more students Product Development
taught by Duke BME’s Kevin Caves. During the participate, they also aim to create a strong com- in Research Triangle
summer they work at their chosen internship for munity of fellows that can act as a professional Park.
at least 10 weeks, followed by a two-semester de- network as graduates enter the workplace.
sign course of their choos-
ing senior year.
While students in Duke “For students looking to diversify their engineering skillset and
BME’s Master of Engineer-
ing program are required build up their resume, this new option tees them up nicely.”

to complete an internship
to earn their degree, the BME Design Fellows “The BME Design Fellows program has giv-
is the first program that provides undergraduate en us the experience we need to be successful in
students with a similar opportunity. In addition graduate school, industry, and starting our own
to gaining practical work experience, they learn companies,” says Deepthi Nacharaju, a student in
how to prepare and go through the technical in- the first cohort of design fellows. “We not only
terview process. gain essential skills, but also a great network in
“I had students come to me saying they felt each other and with industry professionals. All
like they didn’t know anything and weren’t sure of these opportunities made me really interested
what they could say during an interview, and in applying for this program, and I’m excited to
they learned that it wasn’t an accurate perception welcome a new cohort of students as the program
because the companies were very excited to hire continues this year.” n

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 13

A Prototype
Becomes a Paradigm
Duke Engineering’s new design course challenges first-year students
to create solutions to real-world problems

Getting blood drawn or having an IV Santillan, an assistant professor of the practice in
placed is rarely a pleasant experience, mechanical engineering and materials science.
and it can be even worse when it takes “There’s a real opportunity at Duke to affect
multiple attempts to hit a vein. To en- engineering on a wide scale with a first-year ex-
sure they don’t cause additional discomfort, nurs- perience applicable to all engineering students,”
ing students will typically practice IV insertion on says Saterbak, who came to Duke from Rice Uni-
a model arm, but the plastic tool is a poor replica versity, where she was associate dean for engineer-
of human skin. ing education and led efforts to infuse hands-on
opportunities and design thinking into the un-
To give students at Duke University’s School dergraduate program. “Engineering schools for a
of Nursing a more lifelike model to practice on, long time have introduced design concepts with
engineering students opted to design a new arm wooden-stick bridge projects and the like. What’s
using a commercial crafting material that more been missing is the client, and understanding how
closely feels like human skin, and, as an added an engineer works to solve real problems for a real
benefit, hides evidence of previous needle marks. person or organization.”
In the new 5,000-square-foot Duke Engi-
This was just one of the many projects created neering Design Pod,
in the Pratt School of Engineering’s First-Year De- first-year engineering
sign Experience. Developed to immediately pro- students have an op-
vide incoming engineering students with practi- An engineering
cal design experience, the course is co-led by Ann
Saterbak, the winner of the Theo C. Pilkington portunity to practice student works on
Outstanding Educator Award from the Biomedi-
cal Engineering Division of the American Society using 3D printers, pow- the IV project for the
for Engineering Education and professor of the
practice in biomedical engineering, and Sophia er drills, laser cutters First-Year Design

and other tools while Experience.

acquainting themselves

14 | DUKEBME Magazine

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 15

with the design process––from prototyping to fi- pursue projects related to sustainability.
nal presentations. Piloted in the fall of 2017, the program was in-
Above: BME’s Ann During the semester-long course, students are tended to grow over three years before becoming
Saterbak discusses a a requirement for all Duke Engineering students.
project with a group tasked with designing tools for various community But by the end of the spring semester the program
of students. clients, with projects ranging from a device to feed was doing so well that all of Duke’s engineering de-
lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center to designing a
tool that can capture trash from the water flow of partments opted to make the course an immediate
requirement for engineering students.
As the number of students grow,
“What’s been missing is the client, and understanding Saterbak and Santillan are recruit-

how an engineer works to solve real problems for a real ing faculty from each department to
lead multiple sections of the design
person or organization.” experience. In addition to the new
instructors, students will also com-
plete design work in the Foundry, a
Ellerbe Creek for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed As- 7,600-square-foot student space for collaborative
sociation. Because students take the design course design.
before officially declaring a major, it’s an early op- “It’s great to see students respond so well to
portunity to explore projects from different pro- the course and the practical design experience it
grams––those interested in biomedical engineering offers,” says Saterbak. “It shows that Duke engi-
often choose to create medical devices, while stu- neers are committed to these projects and solving
dents interested in environmental engineering may problems.” n

16 | DUKEBME Magazine

From tools to serve
bears and lemurs
to a synthetic arm
for the school of
nursing, students
planned, prototyped
and finalized a
variety of projects
for local clients in
their first year as
engineers. The new
design course is
part of a signature
experience at Duke
Engineering focused
on developing
students’ creative
confidence through
experiences in
design, data science,
computing, research
and entrepreneurship.

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 17

A Showcase
for BME Design

Student designs take center stage at the BME biannual event

18 | DUKEBME Magazine

If you want to see what it Medical Device Design, Biome- Left: Students
takes to be a biomedical en- chanics and Vehicle Safety En- present their projects,
gineering student at Duke gineering, Biophotonics Instru- which include a
University, the BME De- mentation, Devices for People needle localizer and a
sign Symposium is a great place with Disabilities, Design for the
to start. Held at the end of every fall and spring Developing World, Amps and Implant Devices, handheld diagnostic
semester, the event gives students a chance to pres- Clinical Design, and Metabolic Networks and De- tool for eye diseases.
ent their final design projects to fellow students sign. By working with faculty with diverse research,
and BME faculty. With past projects including students have an opportunity to pursue projects Bottom: Students
an interactive laundry assistant, the cost-effective tailored to their own interests. pose with design

development of a useful microbe, and a sensitive “A huge component of Duke BME is an em- professors Patrick
diagnostic tool for HIV, attendees are able to see phasis on creating practical solutions to problems Wolf and Roger
the range of innovative student-led projects being that doctors and researchers face, and it’s always Nightingale

developed in Duke BME. fun to see the final results of our hard work at
“The event grows every year, and it gives stu- the BME Design Symposium,” says Karen Xu, a
dents a chance to let their work shine,” says Kevin recent BME graduate. “Duke BME has given me
Caves, who leads numerous Duke BME design a huge appreciation for what engineering can do
courses, including the groundbreak-
ing Devices for People with Disabil-
ities. “It’s always impressive to see “...our students have shown that they have the skills

what our students can accomplish to make these innovative designs come to life.”

over the course of a semester.”
During the design symposium,
faculty and students are encouraged to peruse for medicine, and that’s something I’m going to
the projects and watch demonstrations, with se- bring with me in my future career.”
lect BME faculty acting as judges to vote on the “Our design courses give students practical ex-
top designs. The most popular designs can earn perience they can benefit from when they gradu-
metaphorical startup funds using “Tosh Bucks”–– ate and go into careers in industry or further into
fake bills decorated with the face of BME chair academia,” says Elizabeth Bucholz, associate di-
Ashutosh Chilkoti––through the People’s Choice rector of undergraduate studies for BME and the
competition, and there’s a more formal judging event’s organizer. “In engineering it’s not surpris-
competition awarding prizes as well. ing when a design doesn’t work the first time, but
The BME Design Symposium features work our students have shown that they have the skills
from a multitude of design courses, including to make these innovative designs come to life.” n

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 19

From Cell Cultures
to Mass Markets

Mike Lynch’s design course adds an entrepreneurial flair to the standard design formula

20 | DUKEBME Magazine

T“ hese are not projects you can start the year ended, but ended up being the first to demon-
night before they are due.” strate the biosynthesis of a key intermediate in can-
This is advice Mike Lynch gives to nabinoid production in E. coli,” says Lynch. “And
students in his design course, Biotech that had a very good business model, so there’s a
Design 1 & 2. And he intends for his words to push to continue that project in the future.”
be taken literally: When it comes to growing Other student projects have included a rapid
cells for his design projects, you have to measure HIV diagnostic test and a drug developed with
time in days and weeks rather than hours before Duke gastroenterologists that could help main-
a deadline. tain ammonia levels in the blood to prevent he-
Lynch, an assistant professor of biomedical en- patic encephalopathy in patients with liver failure.
gineering at Duke University, started his biotech While those projects could follow a more tradi-
design course in 2014, the same year he arrived tional commercial route, some students find that
at Duke after launching a successful company, their designs––while useful––don’t support a via-
OPX Biotechnologies. Recognizing that many ble business model.
students wanted wet-lab experience, Lynch cre- One group attempted to create a gel-like depot
ated the course to allow students to design novel that would slowly release drugs for tuberculosis af-
molecular compounds while experimenting with ter being injected into a patient’s arm. Many TB
the standard design process. patients in the developing world have issues com-
“Biotech design is a lot different than medical pleting their medications––some simply stop tak-
device design or other two-semester design cours- ing the treatment once they begin to
es. We’re making drugs that will affect a broad feel better, while others don’t have con-
group of patients and will take significant time sistent access to treatment. Both issues
and investment for development,” says Lynch. can lead to resistant forms of the bacte- “In addition to learning
“So in addition to learning what their drug will
need to do functionally, my students need to learn ria and rebound infections. By creating what their drug will
about commercial requirements for their prod- a depot to slowly dispense TB drugs
ucts, and they’re doing all that while learning how over a month, the students hoped to need to do functionally,
to design, build, test and then repeat as needed.”
While the wet lab component alone distin- simplify the treatment process. my students need to
guishes his course from other design offerings, “This team quickly learned that
Lynch also challenges his students to approach there wasn’t a good business model for learn about commercial
solutions with an entrepreneurial mindset.
After selecting a project, students spend the first their design, so instead they went back requirements for their
semester of the course researching commercial op- and looked at philanthropic opportu-
portunities for their new drug, therapy or diag- nities in the global health sphere be- products, and they’re
nostic. During this time they assess the potential
market size for their product, examine the com- cause they felt strongly that this was a doing all that while
petitive landscape, and study the patent applica- project worth exploring,” says Lynch.
tion process to learn whether their idea warrants As the course attracts more stu- learning how to design,
patent protection. dents, Lynch is looking forward to
The approach can yield real-world results, as for growing the program to best serve the build, test and then
the team of juniors and seniors whose “CBTEch”
project sought to demonstrate a cheaper and BME design community. repeat as needed.”
more effective way to create medical cannabi- “The entrepreneurial aspect of the
noids using E. coli. course makes it more difficult and
“They didn’t complete their project before the time-consuming, but I think it’s also
more rewarding,” says Lynch. “These students
get into the design process from day one, and
there are always new and exciting projects, which
makes it fun to teach and a great experience for
students.” n

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 21

Design on a

Global Scale

From Uganda to Guatemala, Duke BME design projects make an impact that extends beyond the classroom

A prototype shows Today, nearly 60 percent of babies devel- This was one of the problems Duke BME stu-
blue lights from the op jaundice in the days after their birth. dents attempted to solve through their senior
crib created to treat Caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the design course in the Duke-Makerere University
jaundice in infants blood, the disorder is characterized by a BME partnership, a collaborative program be-
yellowing of the skin and eyes, and if left untreat- tween Duke University’s Department of Biomedi-
ed, can lead to brain damage in newborns. cal Engineering and the BME Program at Makere-

In hospitals like the Duke University Med- re University in Kampala, Uganda.
ical Center, one of the standard treatments is Led by William (Monty) Reichert,
light-therapy using a specialized incubator or
blanket, where a child is placed under blue lights the Theo Pilkington Professor of Bio-
that can break down the excess bilirubin mole- medical Engineering and Global
cules in their blood. But in countries with limit- Health, the program was created in
ed resources, this therapy is rarely available, and 2016 after Reichert spent the previous
parents are often left with ad hoc treatment op- academic year as a Fulbright Scholar
tions––like daily sunlight exposure––that don’t teaching courses and revising the BME
effectively cure the more severe forms of jaundice. department at Makerere University.
Upon his return, he proposed the cre-
ation of a unique partnership between
the schools that would allow Duke
students to work with their Makerere
counterparts to approach engineering
problems with cost-efficient and prac-
tical solutions that can be implemented
in resource-limited settings.

In the years since the program’s cre-
ation, student projects have included a system to
improve vaccine transport, a point-of-care screen-
ing test for preeclampsia in pregnant women
and an oxygen regulator to control the supply of
oxygen to newborns in the neonatal ward at the
Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. Students
have also tackled the issues surrounding jaundice
by creating a ‘jaundice crib’–– a large box thread-
ed with cost-efficient blue LED lights to provide
light therapy from above and below.

22 | DUKEBME Magazine

“There is no shortage of problems in re- solution that will serve the needs of females in the
source-limited settings that need engineering least resourced parts of the world.
solutions, and they don’t always need particularly
sophisticated ones,” says Reichert. “If you’re look- The main problem the students try to address
ing to see how your work is relevant on a human through the course is light poverty, which affects
scale, then there is great value in understanding communities who do not have consistent access
and devising solutions to these challenges.” to electricity. The issue disproportionately im-
pacts women. During the semester, student teams

“If you’re looking to see how your work is relevant on a human scale, then there is great
value in understanding and devising solutions to these challenges.”

Nimmi Ramanujam, the Robert W. Carr Jr. collaborate with clients who work closely with
Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the di- women and girls in international communities
rector of Duke’s Global Women’s Health Tech- and use their feedback to refine their prototypes
nologies Center, has made human-centered de- and create low-cost, renewable-energy-based sus-
sign a signature of her course, BME 230: Global tainable lighting solutions that can be easily made
Women’s Health Technologies. During the pro- and used in resource-limited areas.
gram, which is open to students in the Pratt
School of Engineering and the Trinity College of “The course strives to help students navigate
Arts & Sciences, students work with clients across the human-centered design process in a way that
Duke to rapidly prototype tools that can benefit helps them contextualize the problem and solu-
girls and women in energy-poor communities. In tion to the needs of the specific community, some-
addition to teaching practical engineering skills, thing that is often overlooked,” says Ramanujam.
like 3D printing or soldering, Ramanujam aims “Many of the students who have taken the design
to teach students how they can empathetically ap- course travel through Duke Engage, where they
proach engineering problems to deliver a creative teach the curriculum they have just learned to
women and girls across the globe, who then teach

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 23

Top: Young it to their respective communi- a single-serve, ketchup-pack-
girls involved in ties. The idea is to create a vir- et-like container that protects
Ramanujam’s tuous cycle of capacity building antiretroviral medications when
design program and empowerment through de- not refrigerated – critical to pre-
construct their own sign thinking. Over the last five venting mother-to-child trans-
flashlights. years, 37 of the more than 100 mission of HIV after childbirth
Duke students who have taken in warm regions or in places
Inset: The Pratt this course have directly or indi- with spotty electricity.
Pouch preserves rectly impacted more than 1000
antiretroviral girls and women across four As global health education ex-
medications for continents.” pands in Duke BME, Reichert,
up to 12 months. Ramanujam and Malkin are
The novel medicine Robert Malkin, a professor of hopeful that the students who
packaging method the practice in BME, uses his participate in their courses are
has received wide design course––Design for the broadening not only their tech-
acclaim, including Developing World––to chal- nical, cultural, problem-solving
recognition from lenge students to think outside and entrepreneurial skills, but
WHO and USAID. the box for their designs while still being realistic also their understanding about how they can use
about cost and utility. engineering to help others as they work in re-
source-limited settings around the globe.
Students typically create five to 10 new prod- “If you really want to help the developing
ucts a year, which are then used in hospitals in world, you need to be in the developing world,”
resource-limited settings. One of the more endur- says Malkin. “These programs give students an
ing and far-reaching projects created through De- opportunity to do just that.” n
sign for the Developing World is the Pratt Pouch,

24 | DUKEBME Magazine


Eric Richardson:

Creating new opportunities through engineering design

Among the newest faculty to join Duke University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
is Eric Richardson, who wants to encourage engineering design expertise both in the BME
department and beyond. Formerly an engineer at Medtronic, Richardson helped develop
some of the first transcatheter heart valves, now used in more than 50,000 patients across
the world. He later taught at Rice University, creating immersive design experiences for engineering
undergraduate and graduate students with a specific focus on emerging medical markets.

Now, in his new role as an associate professor of the practice in BME, Richardson is leveraging his
background in design, industry and global health to craft innovative design programs for biomedical
engineering seniors, graduate students and other trainees across Duke.

What projects will you pursue in your new ing markets, especially Latin America and Asia.
role at Duke? I also helped create the Texas Medical Center’s
I’m going to continue my focus on design and Biodesign program, where fellows from engi-
innovation by fostering novel design programs neering, medicine, business, design, computer
and collaborations. One of the things that at- science and research programs identify unmet
tracted me to Duke was the amazing medical clinical needs and develop unique medical de-
center with the proximity to the top-ranked vices to address them.
BME program.
What differentiates your approach to the
I’ll primarily be teaching design courses for design process?
undergraduate and graduate students. I’ll be I’m really interested in exploring the anthropo-
teaching the BME 590: Medical Device Design logical side of medical technology. Engineers
with Mark Palmeri. As we move into the second need to not only understand the physical con-
year of that program, we’re working to bring in straints of the devices they create, but the cultur-
company sponsors for their projects, as we’re al, regulatory and legal constraints. In engineer-
hoping to expand the industry collaboration in ing, about 80 percent of the world’s devices serve
our capstone program. about 10 percent of the world’s population, so we
have this 80 percent using technology that wasn’t
In addition, I’m currently working with Ravi created for their specific needs. Now, as we’re see-
Bellamkonda, dean of the Pratt School of Engi- ing the emergence of medical device markets in
neering, and Joe Knight from the Fuqua School places like Latin America, Africa and Asia, there
of Business to create a graduate program in de- is a growing movement to understand how de-
sign that brings together Pratt, Fuqua, the med- signs can better serve those healthcare systems.
ical school, and other groups.
Within the context of Duke BME, I’m inter-
What is your design background? ested in doing research in biomedical design,
Prior to arriving at Duke I worked at Rice Uni- where we’ll work to better understand how en-
versity, where I taught the undergraduate cap- gineering students can effectively immerse them-
stone course for engineering seniors working on selves so they can truly see the context for the
design projects. I also developed a new graduate tools they’ll create.
program called the Global Medical Innovation
Program, where we taught engineers how to
design devices that were appropriate for emerg-

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 25

Duke’s New Engineering
Building at a Glance

C onstruction is underway on Duke University’s A stone’s throw from collaborators in the Duke University
newest engineering building, a $115-million, Medical Center and the Trinity School of Arts & Sciences,
150,000-square-foot facility designed to house the new space will enhance the student experience and foster
education, research and entrepreneurship initia- new partnerships, says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, the Vinik Dean
tives for the expanding Pratt School of Engineering. The new of Engineering. “We are excited about the opportunities this
building will dramatically increase space for student program- space will provide to help us achieve our ‘outrageous ambi-
ming, with active-learning classrooms, flexible design labs and tions’ for collaborative research and innovation in graduate
specialized learning centers, and also adds signature Research and undergraduate education, across engineering and the uni-
Neighborhoods focused on Health Innovation, Computing & versity as a whole.” n
Intelligent Systems, and Environmental Health.

The new building
is slated to open
in 2020, with five
floors dedicated
to enhancing the
engineering student
experience and
research in health,
computing and the

Learn more and
explore giving
opportunities at

“The design labs are very open and flexible, allowing student teams to meet for
brainstorming and then build and test their project designs. The open classrooms also
will enable more active learning approaches, allowing students to discuss problems
together in groups and then switch to a more traditional lecture orientation to present
their results to their classmates.” —George Truskey, Senior Associate Dean of Engineering

Fall 2018, Issue 1 | 27


Duke BME Design Courses

“Biomechanics and Vehicle Safety Engineering”: “Medical Device Design”: Students learn the
Students examine contemporary issues in the general principles of signal acquisition, amplification
biomechanics of injury and motor vehicle safety processing, recording and display on medical
engineering and create projects on current instruments. Each student will design, construct, and
engineering problems in dummy design or injury demonstrate a functional medical instrument and
mitigation technology. collect and analyze data with that instrument.

“Biophotonics Instrumentation”: Students learn “Clinical Design”: Working with a clinical faculty
how to design optical instruments for biomedical sponsor, students develop a novel medical device that
applications. addresses an unmet clinical need.

“Devices for People “Amps and Implant Devices”: Created for advanced
with Disabilities”: undergraduates and graduate students interested
Working with in understanding the basics of hardware design for
professionals at local implantable neurological devices, this course covers
hospitals, students fundamental principles and circuits for implantable
create custom devices medical devices.
to aid disabled
individuals. “Fundamentals of Engineering Design”: As the first
required course in the two-semester design program,
“Design for the students will begin their immersive design experience
Developing World”: by selecting a project and prototyping their idea.
Students create
custom devices to “Biotech Design 1 & 2”: A two-semester design course
help the specific that provides students with wet-lab experience.
and unique needs Working with clients, students will create molecules,
of developing world therapies or diagnostic tools to address an unmet
hospitals. need. They’ll also assess the commercial viability of
their designs.

Right: Playful windows in the new Duke Engineering Design Pod (see back cover).

28 | DUKEBME Magazine

Duke Blue Red Orange Yellow Orange Non-Profit Org.
100 / 75 / 6 / 24 10 / 80 / 100 / 2 0 / 44 / 71 / 0 U.S. Postage Paid
#F09905 Durham, N.C.
#001A57 #D75404 PMS 157 Permit No. 60
PMS 288 PMS 166

Duke University Secondary Blues Cool Neutrals Warm Neutrals
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Pattern Room 1427, Fitzpatrick Center (FCIEMAS) Navy Blue Black 3 Dark Tan
101 Science Drive 100 / 68 / 7 / 28 76 / 46 / 55 / 95 16 / 28 / 36 / 49
Campus Box 90281 #003366 #262626 #988675
Durham, NC 27708-0281 PMS 294 PMS Black 3 PMS 7531

Cerulean Blue Cool Gray 11 Tan
100 / 31 / 5 / 20 48 / 36 / 24 / 66 7 / 14 / 20 / 21
#235F9C #666666 #DAD0C6
PMS 3015 PMS Cool Gray 11 PMS 7529

Cool Gray 7
22 / 15 / 11 / 32
PMS Cool Gray 7

Cool Gray 3
8 / 5 / 6 / 13
PMS Cool Gray 3

The new Duke Engineering Design Pod provides an inspiring creative space where first-year
engineering students can dive into the challenge of engineering design. Read more on page 14.

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