Three projects awarded $100,000 each in PInCH challenge

A large crowd turned out Sept. 25 at the University Club to hear the final pitches from teams hoping to win the Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh), sponsored by the Clinical & Translational Science Institute.

Taking home the $100,000 awards — for direct costs and project management support to help execute a 12-month project to take the team’s solution one step farther along the path of development — were:

CyteSolutions Lens: Alexis Nolfi, grad student, and Bryan Brown, assistant professor, bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering. A silicone-hydrogel-based contact lens that has been coated with natural biopolymers containing an immune modifying drug for the treatment of dry eye disease.

HIV Detective: Michael Shurin, professor of pathology, School of Medicine. Rapid accurate HIV testing is lacking to achieve HIV eradication. Collaboration between the departments of Chemistry and Pathology proposes to solve this problem.

OneValve: Garrett Coyan, grad student, and William Wagner, director of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Self-regenerating heart valve that uses the patient's natural healing process to replace diseased heart valves, decreasing the risk of blood clots and improving durability over current therapy.

The other three pitch finalists were given $25,000 awards:

42Days: Tamar Krishnamurti, assistant professor of medicine. A mobile health platform to identify maternal mortality risk at a time when women need it most, providing real-time intervention delivery and connection to care.

Aphasia Games for Health: William Evans, assistant professor, Department of Communication Science and Disorders, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Aphasia games for health to bring together translational researchers, industry partners, and patient stakeholders to improve language outcomes and fight social isolation in aphasia.

Push-to-Spin: Jeffrey Gusenoff, professor of plastic surgery, School of Medicine. A novel device to make surgical fat grafting procedures more efficient.

Poster competition

Eight teams competed in the poster competition for $25,000 each. The winners were:

Good Vibrations: Grad students Brianna Perry and Kevin Quinn, and Goeran Fiedler, assistant professor, SHRS. A novel vibration therapy device for treating residual/phantom limb pain and muscle atrophy in amputees.

MobileDerm: Alaina James, assistant professor of dermatology, School of Medicine. Provide dermatologic care to rural and vulnerable communities by traveling to their areas and sustaining partnerships with eDermatology and Teledermatology.

TeenBrainOnline: Caroline Oppenheimer, assistant professor of psychiatry, School of Medicine. A novel neuroimaging task to measure teen brain response to social media. This tool will address a need to study the impact of social media on rising teen depression and suicide rates.

42Days and MobileDerm received an additional $5,000 bonus for addressing rural health.