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Author Topic: How one very smart woman found a way to help save lives at a cost of $3  (Read 2566 times)

40hz

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With all the negativity surrounding healthcare and medical reporting, it's sometimes nice to hear some good news for a change. Stories about people like Danielle Zurovcik make me feel good about being a member of the human race.

link: http://www.fastcompa...the-developing-world

demo-mg-sm.jpg

Quote
MIT Student Develops $3 Cutting-Edge Healing Device, Field Tested in Haiti
BY Cliff KuangWed Apr 14, 2010

The new device could radically improve healing times for tens of millions, at a cost of $3.

No one really knows why, but for an open wound, simply applying suction dramatically speeds healing times. (The theory is that the negative pressure draws bacteria out, and encourages circulation.) But for almost everyone, that treatment is out of reach--simply because the systems are expensive--rentals cost at least $100 a day and need to be recharged every six hours.

No more. Danielle Zurovcik, a doctoral student at MIT, has created a hand-powered suction-healing system that costs about $3.

<more>
 

Of course the headline is a little misleading in that Fast Company refers to her as a "student."

The word "student" conjures up a very different image in my mind than somebody like Ms. Zurovcik, who just so happens to be a doctoral candidate at MIT.

Oh well... It takes nothing away from Danielle's contribution.

I guess FC felt the need to do something to entice people to read the article. :P

 :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 06:15:08 PM by 40hz »

mwb1100

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Hey - so *that's* where my toilet plunger went!

More seriously - I agree 100%- and I don't think being a doctoral student takes anything away from this.  My major contribution to good works is occasionally making sure my neighbor's garage door gets closed at night when she accidentally leaves it open.

I only wish I could do as much good as Zurovcik.

mouser

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Not to take away from this at all, but this jumped out at me from the original article:

Quote
Earlier this semester, Zurovcik, who had been making plans for field tests of the patent-pending device at a rural clinic in Rwanda this fall, was asked by the nonprofit healthcare organization Partners in Health to take part in earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

hopefully this is the story of a truly groundbreaking invention that will help heal people.. and not the story of how someone leverages publicity to get rich off a patent that is not significantly different from what already exists.

i need to find a cure for my cynicism..  :(

there is nothing wrong with someone making money while helping people.. good for her if she's invented something useful and found a way to do it cheaply -- no reason the big manufacturing companies should make money off her invention instead of her.  but on the other hand i think it's probably useful to distinguish between people who are selflessly exhausting themselves to help others.. and those whose primary motivations *may* be to find a way to patent and then profit from filling a health care need.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 09:47:20 PM by mouser »

40hz

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I suppose it might depend on who is holding the patent application and why it was sumitted.

If it was originally developed as part of an ME class, like the article mentioned, there's a good chance the application was submitted by MIT. MIT understands patents and licensing quite well and has a habit of patenting everything they come up with.

As to why, it could also have been filed as a defensive measure like the FSF does with software. And yes, FSF holds software patents even though they are very much opposed to the entire notion of software patents.

If something like this device ever hopes to see the light of day it's going to need something heavy behind it. Otherwise the "big medicine" companies will either attempt to obtain it - or litigate it out of existence if they can't.

Patents aren't necessarily a bad thing in the world of medical devices. You need to have one to make a lot of money. But you'll need one even more for something that will either be sold cheaply or given away.

"I am not cynical. I'm a realist." as the old joke goes.  ;D

    
« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 02:46:30 AM by 40hz »

mouser

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all good points 40hz  :Thmbsup:

40hz

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Follow up on the patent thing:

Did a little research, and apparently the device was developed as part of this program at MIT.

Quote
The students are all part of the Experimental Study Group, a program celebrating its 40th year at MIT. As an alternative that allows about 50 freshmen to satisfy their General Institute Requirements in an atmosphere of small, personalized classes and peer learning in small study groups, ESG generally provides a sense of community and camaraderie more typical of a small college. Slocum, director of the program since 2002, is also an alumnus of ESG himself.

Slocum ’82, MS ’83, PhD ’85, the Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, loves to tinker and build, but most of all he loves to ignite that same passion for creating new devices in other people. His enthusiasm is one reason he was named Massachusetts’ “professor of the year” in 2000, among many awards he has garnered for both research and teaching.

...

Devices for doctors

One of the programs Slocum has been especially interested in is a class that he evolved from a class originally created by Prof. Guttag with CIMIT, the Boston-based Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology. Each year in that class (2.75, “Precision Machine Design”), clinicians and doctors from area hospitals propose to CIMIT a device they wish someone would invent to deal with problems they encounter in their practice.

Students can then pick a problem they would like to tackle, and form teams to develop devices to fill that need. Thanks to U.S. Army sponsorship, each team then gets a budget of about $5,000 to pursue the project. “I have weekly design-review and problem-solving meetings with the student/doctor teams, and the students’ task is to work with the doctor they’ve selected, create strategies and concepts, do a patent search, then do the research and engineering needed to build and test their solution,” Slocum explains.

<more>



From what I see, having the student look at the issue of patents is part of the course requirements.

Link to article:

http://web.mit.edu/n...ile-slocum-0302.html

------

BTW: Professor Slocum looks like the sort of professor many of us wish we had more of. He's a pretty interesting 'character' as well. Here's a video showing some of what Professor Slocum and his crew are up to at MIT:

http://techtv.mit.ed...288-2007-documentary

Well worth the 10 or so minutes it takes to watch.

 8)
« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 03:49:17 PM by 40hz »

lanux128

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i wonder if the contraption was derived from this technique - "cupping".

zridling

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I had foot surgery in February, and healing still hasn't completed. A MAJOR pain in the as... foot. Looks like any pump with a valve would do. Think carburetor.