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BME graduate students Alison Schaefer and Dina Yamaleyeva received E(I) Lab’s top prize at their recent annual awards ceremony.  Their team, LiRA, was announced as the winner of E(I) Lab’s fifth annual awards ceremony for solving challenges in healthcare. Dina said of her experience, “It makes a difference to work on a problem that is a true need and with people who are motivated to solve it.”

Dr. Sam Lai, founder of The E(I) Lab, set this experiential program up specifically for graduate students from various disciplines around campus to tackle unmet healthcare needs, gain first-hand training in prototype development and product design, learn about the latest methods in entrepreneurship and receive coaching and mentorship from our innovation community.

Each team was given six months to develop a marketable innovation that would serve an unmet need for health-care providers and patients. The winning team was made up of a group of five graduate and professional students representing the School of Medicine, the Gillings School of Public Health, the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the UNC/NC State Joint Program of Biomedical Engineering.  They worked on a project to restore voice to aphonic patients through the development of lip-reading technology.

“Every cohort is different,” said Barbara Bell, MEd, Associate Director of the E(I) Lab.  “In this cohort, all 19 members came together to support each team’s work.  They asked questions, offered each other feedback and really came together as a collaborative cohort.”  This cohort was the first to include biomedical engineering student participation.

The four teams that participated in this cohort were:

1st Place: LiRA, cash prize of $3,000

2nd Place: IM Fearless, cash prize of $1,500

3rd Place: Medicare Fair, cash prize of $750

4th Place: OTC Buddy, cash prize of $750

The E(I) Lab is an entrepreneurship and innovation lab launched by the Eshelman School of Pharmacy over five years ago and was the first inter-disciplinary lab of its type at the time.  Applications for Cohort 6 will open on August 1st.  If you are interested in learning more, send an e-mail to Barbara Bell:

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