The Bioengineers without Borders (BWB) Anesthesia Device team won the $10,000 Herbert B. Jones second place prize at the 2017 Holloman Health Innovation Challenge (HIC) on March 3rd. The HIC, held by the UW Foster School of Business Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, offers student teams an opportunity to pursue solutions to important issues in health care, network and collaborate, and build entrepreneurial skills.

The HIC is modeled after the Buerk Center’s two other innovation competitions, the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge and the UW Business Plan Competition. The HIC was first held in 2016, where two teams from BioE took home top prizes.

The final round of competition featured 20 student teams, including three other teams led by UW BioE Master of Applied Bioengineering students. Learn more about the competition at the UW Foster School Blog and a recent Geekwire article.

BWB Anesthesia, led by BioE Ph.D. candidates David Peeler and Eric Swanson, and MBA student Aaron Boswell, is developing an affordable, portable device to improve access to inhaled anesthesia in the developing world and other challenging clinical environments. With their device, the team aims to make surgeries possible and reduce unnecessary deaths.

In developed countries, plenum vaporizers are used to deliver general anesthesia. However, these devices are impractical for low-resource settings because they are costly, difficult to transport and require access to power and pressurized oxygen. Simpler devices called draw-over vaporizers are used instead, but must be operated by trained personnel. Portable anesthesia machines are available, but can cost thousands of dollars per device. Due lack of access to affordable, easy-to-use devices, life-saving and life-improving surgeries in these settings are often not performed.

BWB Anesthesia is working on a refined draw-over vaporizer that costs a fraction of the price of portable devices currently on the market. Their device offers design improvements such as automated temperature and dose control in a variety of environmental conditions, enabling its use by minimally trained technicians.

BWB Anesthesia launched in 2014, and has received funding from the Global WACh-Coulter Foundation and PATH to advance their work. Following to competition, the team will continue working to refine their prototype, and later this year, will travel to Uganda and Tanzania to meet with end users.

The project was recently featured in a College of Engineering article.

Other finalist teams from BioE that participated in the final round of the HIC:


Team members: Ana Silvera, Albert Nguyen, Alexandra McCormick, Jizhe Sun, Purushothaman Padnanabhan (Master of Applied Bioengineering, UW BioE), Peipei Liu (UW Economics)

CathEase is helping people who have lost kidney function by designing a method for preventing infections in peritoneal dialysis and improving ease of use for the procedure.

Cognitive Heart

Team members: Ana Silvera, Justin Lee, Purushothaman Padmanabhan (Master of Applied Bioengineeirng, UW BioE)

Cognitive Heart is an artificial intelligence powered cardiovascular health data analysis and management system.


Team members: Emily Lin, Mingwei Cui, Justin Lee, Shruthi Mohan (Master of Applied Bioengineering, UW BioE)

JEMS TECH is automating blood collection for clotting test measurements taken during cardiac procedures, improving medical decisions and saving procedure time.