Pharmacy Student Young Hong Wins Big at Bench to Bedside Competition
Apr 12, 2018 10:00 AM
University of Utah College of Pharmacy student Young Hong has recently been awarded the Bench to Bedside competition Grand Prize of $50,000. Hong and her team of interdisciplinary colleagues, Jeanna Ryan of University of Utah Physician Assistant Program, Joni Aoki of University of Utah Pre-Medicine, and Lars Lofgren of University of Utah Biomedical Engineering, received the award due to their development of a fertility innovation called PreOv.
According to Hong, “Our idea was born from the fact that many of our friends and families were experiencing or were anticipating difficulty conceiving, and we imagined that most people also know individuals who have had similar troubles. As we researched this issue we found rising rates of fertility difficulties around the world. Many women track their menstrual cycle to help them determine their most fertile period. Tracking this information aids in conception planning though prediction of pending ovulation and may also be used to predict onset of menstruation. The most common at-home fertility tracking methods include Luteinizing Hormone (LH) urine test strips, recording Basal Body Temperature (BBT), and examining cervical fluid. These methods are inconvenient, time-consuming, involve high user error rates, expensive, and BBT & LH provide insufficient notice of peak fertility.
PreOv was our proposed solution to alleviate these pain points by measuring cervical fluid hydration through a convenient intravaginal ring fertility monitor. It is an intravaginal cervical ring device with hydration sensing probes that measure bioelectrical impedance. The device has wireless communication capabilities to provide real-time and quantitative measurements of cervical mucus hydration measured in percent water content. The hydration data gathered from the probes is collected automatically and wirelessly transmitted to an external software application with an algorithm to chart the user’s menstrual cycle in a calendar format. The calendar can be accessed through the user’s smartphone or computer.
PreOv would be the first intravaginal cervical ring monitor to provide objective measurements regarding hydration of cervical mucus. No product on the market monitors hydration of cervical fluid, though cervical mucus patterns- which reflect rising estradiol monitoring, have been shown to be one of the most reliable and accurate markers of the onset of the fertile window during a woman’s menstrual cycle. PreOv’s most popular competitors predict ovulation either after the fact or by no more than 24 hours. PreOv would provide more advanced notice of pending ovulation compared to these most commonly used fertility monitors. Busier lifestyles have driven the need for devices that are convenient, discrete, time saving, and easy-to-use. Additionally, with so many popular intravaginal products on the market, the modern woman is comfortable and receptive to use of an intravaginal ring. We have currently filed a provisional patent for PreOv.”
PreOv won the $50,000 Bench to Bedside Grand Prize. This money will go towards product development in a 1-year collaboration with Church & State, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to creating a sustainable ecosystem that provides entrepreneurs and startups with the critical elements needed to build successful businesses. In addition to the backing, the team will also learn how to form a company and maintain intellectual property. A provisional patent has been filed for PreOv, and the following step within the next year is to develop a working prototype and file a utility patent. Further down the road, possibilities for PreOv may include conducting clinical studies, seeking/receiving FDA approval, and hopefully, marketing and sales of the invention.
The Bench to Bedside Competition is a riveting and rewarding program in which students are introduced to “the fascinating world of medical and global health innovation through an incentive-based team competition”. Undergraduate and Graduate students from all backgrounds are encouraged to form interdisciplinary teams to participate in the Bench to Bedside competition. In the fall, student teams are formed into “multidisciplinary start-up companies as they identify unmet clinical needs. Teams then innovate over a six-month period how to meet these needs using a $500 development fund to build concepts. In that six-month time period, students will have evaluated the IP landscape, prototyped their design, and constructed a business plan. The program culminates in April with a formal presentation of team projects at the annual Bench to Bedside Competition. Projects are presented by team members, then evaluated and scored by a VIP panel of judges”. To learn more about the Bench to Bedside competition, click here.
Congratulations to Young Hong and her team for this impressive accolade!