CLEMSON — A medical device that has advanced to the second stage of a high-profile design competition was created by Clemson University bioengineering students.

GlucoSense is competing for an international James Dyson Award after being named one of four runners-up in the U.S. national competition. Some of the world’s most talented engineering students compete for the prize.

Members of the team that created GlucoSense include (from left) John DesJardins, Kayla Gainey, Delphine Dean, Alex Devon and Tyler Ovington.

Members of the team that created GlucoSense include (from left) John DesJardins, Kayla Gainey, Delphine Dean, Alex Devon and Tyler Ovington.

The low-cost device helps diabetics monitor their blood sugar, using test strips made on a desktop printer. Low production costs and ease of manufacturing could make glucose-monitoring available to patients who couldn’t otherwise afford it and in remote areas where it might not otherwise be available.

GlucoSense started as an undergraduate student research project in the Medical Devices for Developing Countries Creative Inquiry class. It was mentored by associate bioengineering professors Delphine Dean and John DesJardins. Creative Inquiry is a program unique to Clemson that supports undergraduate teams on open-ended research projects.

GlucoSense started as a student research project in the bioengineering department’s Developing Countries Creative Inquiry class. It is overseen by associate bioengineering professors Delphine Dean and John DesJardins.

Kayla Gainey Wilson, a Ph.D. student, has worked on the project with Dean as part of Wilson’s graduate studies. A company, Accessible Diagnostics, has been formed to commercialize GlucoSense.

The James Dyson Award is open to engineering and design students around the world. It is organized by the charitable trust of James Dyson, who invented the bagless vacuum cleaner. This year’s competition had a record 690 designs entered worldwide.

Ninety entrants remain as the competition moves into the second stage. Dyson engineers will pick the top 20 to vie for the international James Dyson Award. The foundation expects to announce the winner on Nov. 10.

The success in the Dyson competition is the latest honor for the GlucoSense team. Members also took first place in the 2014 Lemelson-MIT Cure-it Prize, first place in the 2015 SC BIO Business Pitch Competition, second place in the 2014 Engineering World Health Prize and the Bronze Prize in 2014 DTS Student Research Award.

Martine LaBerge said she was proud that GlucoSense had its start in the Department of Bioengineering, where she serves as chair.

Kayla Gainey serves as co-founder and chief technology officer of Accessible Diagnostics.

Kayla Gainey serves as co-founder and chief technology officer of Accessible Diagnostics.

“I congratulate all who have worked on GlucoSense for its success,” she said. “The project serves as a fine example of the high-quality research and entrepreneurship experiences we offer at Clemson.”

GlucoSense had some help from The Design and Entrepreneurship Network, also known as The DEN. Wilson said The DEN connected her with, John Warner, who was instrumental in forming Accessible Diagnostics.

As part of The DEN, student and faculty inventors pitch their business ideas to experts, such as angel investors and patent attorneys, who offer advice on how to take the ideas to market.

“I do not believe we would have made it this far without The DEN and the Accessible Diagnostics team,” Wilson said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my interactions with The DEN, and I think it is a wonderful program that deserves recognition for how it is helping Clemson students.”

DesJardins said GlucoSense has been roaring success for the Creative Inquiry team and the College of Engineering and Science.

“We’re hoping for more campus-community successes like this as we develop our entrepreneurship ecosystem with programs like The DEN,” said DesJardins, who is the Hambright Leadership Associate Professor of Bioengineering.

The DEN is part of the College of Engineering and Science, but students and faculty members throughout the university are encouraged to attend. DesJardins serves as The DEN’s faculty advisor. Bre Przestrzelski is the student founder and leader of The DEN.

Accessible Diagnostics has $500,000 in backing from Concepts to Companies, a Greenville-based “startup factory” that looks to commercialize university research

One of Concepts’ principals, Brian McSharry, serves as CEO. Warner, who is also a principal, is a business advisor. Wilson serves as the chief technology officer, and Dean is the technology adviser.

GlucoSense grew out of the bioengineering department’s broader effort to improve lives in Tanzania, where students and faculty are working to introduce several low-cost medical devices, including an infant warmer and grass-woven neck braces.

Dean, who is the Gregg-Graniteville Associate Professor of Bioengineering, said the product’s success underscores how urgently the product is needed.

“Testing helps patients maintain blood sugar levels,” she said. “Too many people around the world still do not have access to the monitors and test strips that can help prevent serious complications from diabetes. GlucoSense can put the equipment in the hands of the patients who need it most.”

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