UNM Biodesign Group
Collaborators on the Biodesign team project that earned an NIH award include (from left) Thomas Howdieshell, MD, Trauma Surgery; Sherif Aboubakr, Civil Engineering PhD student; Rachel Tufaro, Orthopaedics Biomechanics & Biomaterials Laboratory Research Team member and master’s student; Aneesha Kondapi, Aneesha Kondapi, electrical engineering master’s student; and Christina Salas, PhD, Orthopaedics Research Division assistant professor.

A Biodesign course launched at the University of New Mexico this past fall has resulted in a $50,000 National Institutes of Health award aimed at translating university inventions into commercial products for medical practitioners. Administered by UNM’s Clinical & Translational Science Center, the award is being equally split between two Biodesign teams - one led by Christina Salas, PhD, an assistant professor in the UNM Orthopaedics Research Division who also serves as a faculty appointee in mechanical engineering.

During the 16-week class, each team was charged with developing an idea to solve a clinical problem identified after shadowing UNM trauma surgeon Thomas Howdieshell, MD, from initial emergency room treatments to surgical care in the operating room. Salas and her team brainstormed a device aimed at improving trauma surgery outcomes on pelvic fractures and presented it to a panel of judges late last year.

“Our Pelvic Ring Emergency Stabilizer System impressed the judges because it requires limited training to use and can stabilize the pelvis while allowing for full abdominal and groin access - all while being low-cost and disposable,” says Salas. Howdieshell also commended the team for its “profound insight” into a real clinical problem. “I believe its novel approach to pelvic compression will reduce pelvic bleeding,” he adds.

Salas’ team included Rachel Tufaro, a member of UNM’s Orthopaedics Biomechanics & Biomaterials Laboratory research team and master’s student in the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering; Aneesha Kondapi, master’s student in electrical engineering, Center for High Technology Materials; and Sherif Aboubakr, PhD student in the Department of Civil Engineering’s Nanomaterials and Structural Health Monitoring Laboratory. The Biodesign course was instructed by Scott S. Sibbett, PhD, a research professor in the UNM Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.