Penn Medicine


Medical Device Accelerator


The deadline to apply for the 2018 Medical Device Accelerator has passed.  Applicants can expect to hear from our team about the status of their submission by early October.  Check soon for information about this year's winners.

Submissions tracks

  • General
  • Neuro devices: monitoring and therapeutics
  • Delivery platforms: drug and gene therapy
  • Connected health: sensors, AI/ML, devices, and systems

Projects that cross departments and schools, and promote sharing expertise are strongly encouraged.  


If you have questions or want to learn more, please book a medical device office hours session or email

The Medical Device Accelerator, sponsored by the Perelman School of Medicine and Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, in partnership with the Penn Center for Innovation and Penn Health-Tech, empowers entrepreneurs, clinicians, and researchers at Penn Medicine to create and commercialize innovative medical devices to address unmet clinical needs, improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of care.  The program supports faculty and staff in transforming their "paper napkin drawing" to a final product ready for clinical use. We also partner with business accelerators such as DevelUPmed to help participants make the transition from device to company after the program concludes.

Teams selected to participate receive: 

  • Seed funding: Seed funding of $10,000 - 50,000 to develop your concept
  • Project support: Advisors will help you refine your design, build partnerships and achieve proof of concept
  • Access to experts: We partner with best in class companies to assist with engineering and design, manufacturing, regulatory guidance, quality systems, and marketing

How it works


IP and licensing compensation

Individuals participating in the Medical Device Accelerator are subject to the Patent and Tangible Research Property Policies and Procedures of the University of Pennsylvania.  

2017 class

Dan Holena, MD: Patients with enterocutaneous fistula (ECF) may not be operative candidates for months or years and suffer from debilitating medical complications requiring lengthy inpatient stays.  Intravenous nutrition alone costs $90K-$120K annually and is not nutritionally sufficient.  Creating a device to collect proximal gastrointestinal secretions and ingested food and refeed materials distally will allow patients to eat normally and remain in a non-hospital setting.

Jim Carey, MD, MPH: Jim is one of a select few orthopaedic surgeons to perform meniscal and cartilage transplants.  This procedure is currently performed with standard surgical instruments that were never designed for this purpose, resulting in a procedure that is unnecessarily complex and error-prone.  We are creating a transplant instrumentation set designed to simplify the procedure and make it accessible to more surgeons.
Elliot Stein, MD: The current standard of care for percutaneous locoregional ablative therapy (PLAT) uses extreme heating and cooling to damage tumor cells, however, the inability to shape the ablation zone and the imprecise real-time monitoring of the ablation progression leads to limited effectiveness (70% recurrence) and excessive adjacent tissue trauma.  Creating a device that can apply electrochemical treatment (EChT) can offer customized ablations zones avoiding critical structures and treatment of irregularities in tumor shapes.  Additionally, monitoring of pH changes can be used to monitor ablation progress.
Bryan Pukenas, MD: The current standard of care to deliver gene therapies to a diseased brain and spinal cord is open surgery, which is an invasive procedure.  Creating a novel minimally invasive access system can drastically reduce the associated morbidities with open procedures and reduce the amount of costly engineered nucleic acid by improving the access vector.  The developed technology can be applied to deliver localized chemotherapy and catheter-directed laser tumor ablation.

2017 investigational projects

New this year! Investigational projects will receive low-touch support to reach milestones and then be considered for advancement to an active project.  

Eric Lancaster, MD: Developing a native immunoblot screening test that can be turned around within hours for autoantibodies established to associate with autoimmune encephalitis. 
Brian Park, MD: Exploring solutions to automatically register 3D holographic models of patient imaging directly on top of the patients through computer vision tactics and pattern recognition.  
Shariq Raza, MD: Developing a chest tube with an inner obturator and an outer flange that one can use to hold and manipulate the distal end inside of the chest.
Steve Messe, MD: Developing an accelerometer-based Bluetooth-connected limb monitor as well as an app-based asymmetry-detecting algorithm that can rapidly identify patients who are having a stroke.

2016 class

Michael Milone, MD, PhD and Saba Ghassemi, PhD: A viable strategy for blood cancer is immunotherapy involving adoptive cellular transfer (ACT) including CAR-T therapies.  Magnetic beads with stimulatory antibodies that activate and drive T cell proliferation ex vivo represent the primary platform used for ACT manufacturing today. Although bead-based ACT manufacturing has been successfully scaled into cGMP processes, the effectiveness of this platform for manufacturing in patients with leukemia, where leukemic cell frequencies vastly exceed T cell frequencies, is significantly reduced.  Michael Milone, MD, PhD and Saba Ghassemi, PhD are working to develop a new cell therapy manufacturing device for T cell isolation, activation and transduction that is automated, regulated and fully enclosed in order to reduce labor and manufacturing cost. The device they’ve designed has the ability to select T cells from leukemia-rich blood samples and activate cells in a single step for both ex vivo propagation and genetic engineering. 

Ari Brooks, MD; Rahul Mangharam, PhD; Han Jun Kim; Richard Sensenig; and Ezra Brooks:  Measuring urine output data serves as a reliable, inexpensive and effective way to measure patient well-being.  Urine output is an indicator of acute kidney injury, which occurs in 30% of ICU patients.  Current urimeters are read visually and emptied manually every hour, with care team members recording data on paper.  Ari Brooks, MD; Rahul Mangharam, PhD; Han Jun Kim; Richard Sensenig; and Ezra Brooks have designed a digital urimeter based on electrical continuity that calculates the total volume in the urimeter container, provides a real-time display and integrates data directly into the patient EMR.

Perry Dubin, MD, MPH:  Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a hospital-acquired infection that affects 15-20% of the 3 million ventilated patients in the United States annually. VAP is associated with mortality of 30% and significant morbidity - including extended Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) and hospital stays.  However, clinical studies on patient recumbency have shown that recumbency at 30-45% is associated with significant reduction in VAP.  To tackle this issue, Perry Dubin, MD, MPH created Angulus.  Angulus is a small 1”x2” biosensor that affixes via silicone adhesive directly to the chest of a patient. It contains a disposable inclinometer that digitally measures patient recumbency and has the ability to wirelessly transmit information to electronic health records and display data on vital sign and telemetry monitors. 

James Carey, MD, MPH:  Nationally, knee arthroscopy procedures are performed more than 500,000 times per year.  Metallic biters are the tools currently utilized to perform the procedure.  However, metallic biters are metallic and rigid, which minimizes access to the meniscus and maximizes the risk of damage to the articular cartilage.  James Carey, MD, MPH is working to create a flexible meniscal biter to permit more comprehensive and safer treatment of the meniscus during knee arthroscopy procedures. 

Jake Brenner, MD, PhD; Marek Swoboda, PhD; and Perry Dubin, MD, MPH:  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), popularly called emphysema, causes 15 million Americans to suffer years of intolerable shortness of breath (SOB). In these patients, prior smoking changes the lung structure so that they cannot breathe when engaged in activity. Jake Brenner, MD, PhD; Marek Swoboda, PhD; and Perry Dubin, MD, MPH are working to create a wearable mechanical breathing assist device (AIR-AD) to help the 2 million Americans who suffer from severe COPD. AIR-AD is a respiratory assist device that fits like a shell over the anterior chest and abdomen and offloads the work of breathing (WOB). With each breath in, AIR-AD generates a vacuum that helps lift the chest and abdomen, drawing air in. With each breath out, AIR-AD increases pressure over the chest and helps the patient breathe out faster. By assisting with WOB, AIR-AD helps reduce the feeling of SOB, enabling patients to once again engage in life.


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