Four seniors whose medical-related projects were deemed "on the vanguard of innovation" by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann will receive university funding to carry them out.
As winners of Gutmann's inaugural Innovation Prize, each team of two students will receive $100,000 to implement their projects and a $50,000 living stipend per team member, the university announced Wednesday. They also will get space at the Pennovation Center and mentoring from its staff to do their work over the next year.
The new prize recognizes students for the development of commercial ventures that stand to improve the world.
Seniors Sade Oba and Alfredo Muniz of the School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed wearable devices that track the movement of limbs to help patients of Parkinson's disease and their therapists. Data from the devices will sync with a smart phone, and therapists will be able to compare the results against their goals for patients.
The project, called XEED, "has the potential to improve the lives of millions affected" by Parkinson's, the university said. Oba and Muniz, both from Houston, will be mentored by Jonathan Smith, a professor of engineering and applied science.
The other project, called Fever Smart, is the work of seniors William Duckworth of Penn Engineering and Aaron Goldstein of the Wharton School. Their medical device and "cloud information system" allows patients and medical workers to monitor body temperature and get alerts when it rises to unsafe levels.
Duckworth, of Lake Forest, Ill., and Goldstein, of West Palm Beach, Fla., will be mentored by Matthew Grennan, assistant professor of healthcare management at Wharton.
"XEED and Fever Smart are on the vanguard of innovation; they are disruptive, ingenious and pioneering," Gutmann said in a statement, announcing the awards. "Both of these projects have the potential to fundamentally alter the way distance monitoring can improve healthcare. From helping Parkinson's patients, therapists and families to fighting and mitigating disease at home and abroad, XEED and Fever Smart embody the ability of Penn students to do good in the world."
The competition for the prize drew 21 project proposals involving 33 students.
Gutmann announced the creation of the innovation prize in October. It followed the launch a year earlier of her "Engagement Prizes," which reward non-profit ventures that make the region and the world better.