AAMI News March 2016

High School Students Shine in AAMI Essay Contest

This past fall, AAMI challenged high school students from across the country to describe a healthcare technology of the future and how it would improve patient care. More than 250 essays were submitted, and three were selected as winners by members of AAMI’s Technology Management Council (TMC).

Stanley Rozentsvit
Stanley Rozentsvit
Katie Karmin
Katie Karmin
Alicia McMahon
Alicia McMahon

“High school students look at healthcare technology differently than those of us who have been working in healthcare for a number of years,” said Kelvin Knight, a biomedical engineering supervisor at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama and one of the contest’s judges. “These students see the world through the new types of technology they use, such as cellphones and the applications that run on them. I see the future of healthcare with technology designed by some of these students.”

When evaluating the ideas submitted by students, members of the TMC were not considering whether they might be products in development at leading manufacturers. Rather, TMC members were assessing the creativity of the students.

The TMC awarded top honors to Stanley Rozentsvit, a junior at Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences in Brooklyn, NY. Rozentsvit’s essay focused on a device that would help doctors diagnose illnesses, such as cancer and coronary artery disease, earlier by detecting biomarkers in the blood.

“The key to detecting biomarkers at the beginning of a disease is a device that senses and distinguishes between blood protein levels transcutaneously, or through the skin. A system like this would eliminate the need for a patient to visit a doctor for a biomarker blood test because the device could be worn at all times, sensing protein elevations in vivo,” Rozentsvit wrote.

Although Rozentsvit acknowledged that sensing “the presence of crucial biomarkers at the very instant they appear in the blood” might sound like science fiction, he expressed confidence that it was entirely possible.

“I spend a lot of my time thinking of new ways to solve old problems in science,” Rozentsvit said. “An idea for a transcutaneous blood monitoring device has been on my mind since last summer, and when I found out about this essay contest, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to write about it and why this invention would be so important for humanity.” Rozentsvit would like to major in biomedical engineering so he can pursue his two passions—biology and innovative problem-solving. He plans to put his $500 prize toward research, including investigating the device he wrote about in his essay.

Katie Karmin, a junior at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, IL, was selected as the second-place winner. Her essay focused on the challenges her family has faced since her brother was diagnosed with Type I diabetes and described her idea for a device that would serve as an artificial pancreas. This device would automatically administer insulin or glucose based on an accurate reading of a person’s blood sugar level.

“After having spent the past year watching my younger brother struggle with the frequent demands of blood sugar maintenance, it became quite clear to me the improvements that needed to be instituted,” Karmin said. “Healthcare should be efficient, it should be accurate, and most importantly, it should alleviate stress rather than contribute to it. While diabetes treatment has come a long way, there is so much more room to grow.”

Third place in the contest was awarded to Alicia M. McMahon, a junior at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, CA. In her essay, McMahon described a suit-like technology that could regenerate nerves and permanently fix paralysis.

“I’m in a wheelchair at the moment, and even though it’s not permanent, it truthfully sucks not to be able to walk,” McMahon said. “You see people walking, running, and dancing, and you miss it. You wonder what it feels like to be out of breath from  going up four flights of stairs or just walking down the street to your favorite ice cream shop. To give someone an experience of a lifetime—to be able to walk again—that would be truly something you would never forget.”

The contest was as gratifying for the judges as for the students. “The judging experience was a wonderful way to gain insight into the sharp young minds of the next generation of healthcare technology professionals,” Knight said. “Reading the essays was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in quite some time.”

AAMI President Mary Logan commended all of those who participated. “Thank you to all of the students who submitted an essay for this contest, and congratulations to Stanley, Katie, and Alicia,” she said. “It is by encouraging young people to think about new ways to solve the problems we are facing in healthcare today that the future of medical technology will be built.”

To read the winning essays, please visit www.aami.org/essaycontest2015.