Medical Device Accelerator


Pre-development program

For individuals thinking about applying to the Medical Device Accelerator, the pre-development program is a great place to start.  We have partnered with NextFab to offer inventors access to design and prototyping services to test explicit hypotheses associated with their medical device ideas.  The goal of the pre-development program is to enable inventors to collect early evidence about their creations that can be leveraged to secure funding for development and pursue patent protection down the line.  Funding for this program is provided by the Center for Health Care Innovation and NextFAB provides matching in-kind services.  We review applications on a monthly basis.  Learn more and apply.

Medical Device Accelerator

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 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 PCI Ventures to help participants make the transition from device to company after the program concludes.   We will begin accepting applications for our next class of projects on October 6.  

Teams selected to participate in the Medical Device Accelerator receive:

  • Seed funding: Seed funding of $5,000 - 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

Watch the video below to learn more about how the program works and reference previous winners here


Employees of Penn Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania are eligible to participate in the Medical Device Accelerator.

Evaluation criteria

Applications are reviewed by an interdisciplinary team of medical device experts that will assist in selecting projects based on the following criteria:

  • Potential for impact
  • Potential for commercialization and creation of new intellectual property
  • Strength of solution 

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.

Current class

High-resolution, low cost, EEG sensors
Inventors: Flavia Vitale, PhD; Nicolette Driscoll, PhD; Katheryn Davis, MD
Scalp electroencephalography (EEG) is used widely for clinical diagnostics and monitoring in patients with neurological disease, for research aimed at understanding neural circuitry, and, increasingly, for continuous at-home monitoring. Typical EEG electrodes are made with high-impedance materials such as metals and rely on conductive gels to achieve suitable electrode-skin interface impedance to record signals with high fidelity. The gels must be individually applied to each electrode by a skilled EEG technician, a process that can take more than an hour, which is limiting for patients that require rapid diagnostics.  The inventors have developed a dry EEG electrode made of conductive nanomaterials that achieve equivalent signal fidelity to gel-based EEG electrodes. These electrodes can be applied without gel or a skilled technician. The inventors have also developed a high-throughput scalable fabrication process to make mm-scale dry EEGs. Additionally, the process for this platform technology can be used to produce low-cost gel-free epidermal biosensor arrays for a wide range of recording modalities beyond EEG, including muscle (EMG) and cardiac (EKG) activity sensing.

Stellate Ganglion Magnetic Stimulator
Inventor: Timothy Markman, MD
Many common cardiac conditions, including arrhythmias, heart failure, and coronary artery disease, are treated by attempting to modulate the autonomic input that the heart receives. Options to do so include medications and invasive procedures, both of which have adverse side effects and complications that limit their use. The most definitive management strategy in modulating autonomic input to the heart involves a surgery in which the chest is opened, and the sympathetic nerves innervating the heart are physically removed. While this procedure is effective, there are morbidity risks associated.  Dr. Markman is developing a novel device to inhibit cervical sympathetic input to the heart. The device will produce low-frequency magnetic pulses that, with repetition, will inhibit the neural activity of the stellate ganglion, ultimately decreasing sympathetic input to the heart.

Minimally Invasive Stabilization of Fractured Ribs
Inventor: Adam Shiroff, MD; Joe Fernandez-Moure, MD
Chest wall trauma is common around the world. Approximately 500,000 patients present annually to emergency hospitals in the United States with an injury to their bony thorax, and more than one-third are hospitalized. Patients with flail chest often present with significant pulmonary contusion, long-term pain, disability, and inability to maintain employment. Currently, technology does not lend itself to truly minimally invasive techniques. It thereby shifts this procedure to only the more severely injured, where a more significant, open operation is deemed worthwhile. This leaves less injured but still dramatically impacted patients with the imperfect solution of narcotic pain medication as a primary management strategy.  Dr. Shiroff and Dr. Fernandez-Moure are developing a minimally invasive rib fixation system capable of intrathoracic screw protection and maintenance of ideal screw-plate interface angles. By creating a minimally invasive repair of chest wall injury, a far broader patient audience can be offered and take advantage of fixation and not rely on current narcotic heavy, suboptimal treatment.

2019 class

L. Scott Levin, MD; Edward Cantu III, MD; and Matthew Winterton, MD: The rate-limiting step for doing limb reattachment and transplantation is the availability of suitable limbs.  We are developing an ex-vivo limb perfusion system analogous to an ex-vivo lung perfusion system that can keep limbs alive until they are reattached or transplanted.

Shu Yang, PhD and Suhail Kanchawala, MD: One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  Current surgical reconstruction techniques are overly complex leading to suboptimal complication rates and poor cosmetic outcomes.  We are developing a bio-absorbable material for real-time fabrication leveraging 3-D printing to improve “fit” and reduce costs.

Richard Shlanky-Goldberg, MD: Rates of enterocutaneous fistula (ECF) have increased over recent years.  The mortality rate for patients with ECF hovers between 7 - 20%, and outpatient management costs approximately $500k per case.  We are developing an internal fixation device that can be applied via a percutaneous technique.

Harvey Smith, MD and Matthew Winterton, MD: Spinal procedures are common and very costly.  The majority of the cost can be attributed to the marketing cost of the implant itself.  Vertically integrating implant fabrication can reduce the cost of the implants by 70 - 80%.  We are building a pipeline for this fabrication at Penn Medicine.

Jake Brenner, MD, PhD; James Weimer, PhD; and Cindy Dahl, Esq.: Every day, more than 115 people die after overdosing on opioids.  Bystander assistance is not reliable.  We are developing an automated injector that can detect the onset of an overdose and deliver Naloxone.

2018 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 process that is unnecessarily complex and error-prone.  We are creating a transplant instrumentation set intended 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.

Steve Messé, MD, David Do, MD, and James Weimer, PhD: Stroke is a significant public health issue and a leading cause of death and disability.   Close to 17% of strokes occur in hospitalized patients, many of whom have recently had surgery, which dramatically increases morbidity, mortality, and cost.  Although stroke treatment has advanced substantially in recent years, the identification of in-hospital strokes is often delayed.  We are developing an inpatient stroke monitoring system, comprised of Bluetooth accelerometer wristbands and a tablet-based algorithm application to provide ongoing real-time information and alerts to staff regarding if and when a stroke may have occurred.


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.

2017 class

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 a 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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