MDC Projects

MDC projects expose members to the concepts of research, design, and prototyping in small groups of like-minded students. Project concepts are typically discussed during an “Ideation Meeting” at the beginning of the year, after which, students apply to lead a team for once the selected project ideas. After projects are established, members are open to join at the beginning of each quarter, or are recruited by the team leads based on project needs. In addition to the IRA funding allotted to MDC, the projects often receive monetary support through grants and competitions. Past sponsors have included the CP Connect program and The Sprague Fund. Project meetings typically occur on a weekly basis as determined by the lead and their members. The project leads report regularly to MDC officers to provide status updates and receive guidance, ensuring progress and success for the project. Projects typically last one to two years, but have no official ending until the publication of final report and/or a submission to competitions. This allows results to be shared with the medical and academic community and demonstrates student achievement. Check out our current projects below and feel free to reach out to team leads if you have any questions or are interested in joining!

Current Projects

Gluten Sensor Project

Team Lead: Tanvi Gehani
Contact: tgehani@calpoly.edu

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) reports that approximately 1 in 133 Americans have Celiac Disease, a genetic autoimmune disease where the consumption of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) prompts an immune-mediated attack on the small intestine. The resulting intestinal damage prevents effective nutrient absorption into the bloodstream leading to malnourishment and a high threat for long-term health issues including cancer, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological disorders, developmental defects, and more. The only cure for Celiac Disease is the adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the presence of gluten in foods must be less than 20 parts per million to be classified as gluten-free, as even the smallest ingestion of gluten due to cross-contamination can trigger a severe inflammatory response. Current gluten sensor devices on the market lack reliability in specifically being able to detect the presence of gluten in fermented-hydrolyzed foods such as soy sauce, vinegar, yogurt, pickles, cheese and others. Through examining different biochemical and analytical detection approaches, we aim to identify a method effective in detecting hydrolyzed gluten and then translate that procedure into a user friendly device for individuals with Celiac Disease. Our goal by creating this system is to reduce the likelihood of individuals with Celiac Disease consuming harmful quantities of gluten unknowingly, decreasing the potential for long term health complications.

Celiac Disease: Fast Facts. (2020, September 08). Retrieved October 03, 2020, from https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/facts-and-figures/

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Final Rule on Gluten-Free Labeling of Fermented and Hydrolyzed Foods. Retrieved October 03, 2020, from https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-issues-final-rule-gluten-free-labeling-fermented-and-hydrolyzed-foods

Panda, R., & Garber, E. (2019, June 13). Detection and Quantitation of Gluten in Fermented-Hydrolyzed Foods by Antibody-Based Methods: Challenges, Progress, and a Potential Path Forward. Retrieved October 03, 2020, from

Non-Invasive Electrolyte Monitor Project

Team Lead: Ally Lai
Contact: alai09@calpoly.edu

The goal of the Non-Invasive Electrolyte Monitor is to create a wearable device that continuously measures and displays the user's electrolyte levels. The device has multiple practical applications, for example, helping athletes at risk of electrolyte imbalance, easily keep track of their electrolytes and ensuring a swift and accurate diagnosis of patients experiencing symptoms related to electrolyte imbalance. The aim of the device is to take advantage of the currently open spot in the market for electrolyte testing that is non-invasive and practical for use in both a clinical and non-clinical setting.

Past Projects

Pain Treatment Evaluation Project

2020 - 2021

U.S. women are 3 times more likely to die of maternal causes than their Canadian counterparts [1]. Bias and symptom denial within the medical community affect patient pain assessment, impacting the rest of a patient’s treatment. Standardizing pain communication and evaluation can reduce these bias problems [2]. Additionally, within obstetrics and gynecology, up to 80% of preventable adverse events result from poor communication [3]. The goal of the Pain Treatment Evaluation Project is to develop a communication standard that is more objective and facilitates unbiased medical care.

[1] Renee Montagne. “The Last Person You'd Expect To Die In Childbirth.” NPR. https://www.npr.org/2017/05/12/527806002/focus-on-infants-during-childbirth-leaves-u-s-moms-in-danger (accessed Aug. 23, 2020).

[2] S. K. Kolmes and K. R. Boerstler. “Is there a gender self-advocacy gap? an empiric investigation into the gender pain gap.” Bioethical Inquiry, July 2020, doi: 10.1007/s11673-020-09993-8.

[3] S. Lippke et. al. “Communication and patient safety in gynecology and obstetrics - study protocol of an intervention study.” BMC Health Services Research volume, Nov. 2019, doi: 10.1186/s12913-019-4579-y.

Seizure Prediction Device Project

2020 - 2021

It is estimated that around 1.2% of people in the US currently have epilepsy, a disorder that causes sudden and unexpected seizures to occur. Around 30% of those patients are medication-resistant and not able to manage their seizures which poses a significant mental and physical burden. Through the use of an electronic nose and/or electrodermal sensors that are programmed to detect the events that precede a seizure, we aim to monitor and predict seizures before they occur. After testing of the devices, we plan to consolidate the system into a user wearable device. This device would give patients with unmanaged epilepsy a tool to help them lead a less stressful and more independent life.

EpiPen Redesign Project

2019 - 2021

Our group set out with the goal to redesign the widely used EpiPen. We recognized current problems with the design including the expense, size, device discretion, and practicality. We are addressing these issues with a new innovative approach to the mechanism behind injections, needle-free jet injections. Through the project, prototypes were designed and tested and features were refined to attempt to make the best possible redesign.