2022 CID Fellows Work on Improving Gastronomy Tubes

May 10, 2022

The second class of Clinical Innovation Design (CID) Fellows finished their nine-month program with a presentation of their identified clinical need and proposed solution on Monday, May 9, 2022.

Left to right: Fellows Natalie Weston, Juan Villacres, and Sanjana Srinath working in the BME Lobby. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Hooker).

The CID program, which pairs third-year Dell Medical School (DMS) students with Cockrell School master’s students, launched in 2020 as a partnership between the Department of Biomedical Engineering and DMS. Participants practice design thinking and are involved in all aspects of medical device development and innovation, from needs assessment and analysis of current solutions to prototyping and business plan development.

This year’s fellows include: Faiz Baqai, Micah Secor, and Natalie Weston from Dell Medical School, and Texas BME master’s students Sanjana Srinath and Juan Villacres.

Together the team spent eight weeks of clinical immersion with patients and physicians in the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease located at Dell Children’s Medical Center asking questions about how we provide care, why care is provided in a certain way, and how and where we can improve.

The team spent time in areas that include cardiac surgery, anesthesia, perfusion, critical care unit, the catheter lab, and fetal cardiology, among others. They identified over 400 clinical needs and picked one to focus on: an improved gastronomy tube (g-tube).

Fellows gave their final presentation and participated in a panel discussion with representatives from Sante Ventures, Texas Innovation Center, Lansinoh Laboratories, and Dell Children's Comprehensive Care Clinic at Dell Children's Medical Center on May 9, 2022. From left to right: Program Co-Director Dr. Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert; Fellows Sanjana Srinath, Natalie Weston, Micah Secor, Juan Villacres, Faiz Baqai; and Program Co-Director Dr. Carlos Mery. 

Currently in the U.S. around 400,000 pediatric and adult patients rely on g-tubes, or feeding devices, to receive nutrition and medication. The team cited a number of issues with the current standard of care, mainly that g-tubes, for various architectural reasons, are prone to dislodging, requiring patients to seek emergency room care for replacements and to avoid adverse reactions.

For the remainder of the year, the team brainstormed solutions, focused on ideation for an improved medical device, built a prototype, and developed a business plan.

The team took a multi-faceted, interprofessionally collaborative approach to developing a device that will address the challenges of current gastronomy tubes on the market. They have filed a provisional patent and are taking next steps with the UT Office of Technology Commercialization.