At the inaugural Athanasiou ABME Student Award Session held on October 19 during the Biomedical Engineering Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta, GA, HST MEMP PhD candidates Claudia Varela and Markus Horvath were recognized for their paper, “Towards alternative approaches for coupling of a soft robotic sleeve to the heart.”

All papers first-authored by a student or post-doctorate and published between July 2017 and June 2018 were reviewed for consideration of the award, offering a $500 honorarium funded by the Athanasiou Endowment, which was created to acknowledge excellence in biomedical engineering.

The paper outlines a study in which researchers investigated an alternative approach for coupling a supportive sleeve to the surface of the failing heart. Local and global coupling strategies were analyzed, material conformability was tested, and tissue level analysis was performed to evaluate the integration of medical mesh as interface material.

Varela, Horvath, and their team demonstrated that medical mesh material can be used for an active heart sleeve that can support the failing heart, and that bio-integration could be an approach to couple a mesh-based assist device with the surface of the heart.

Horvath receives award at the Oct. 19, 2018 Athanasiou Student Award Session in Atlanta, GA.

Both 3rd-year students in the Harvard-MIT MEMP program, Varela and Horvath are members of Professor Ellen Roche’s research group, Therapeutic Technology Design & Development, centered on designing implantable technologies for boosting the function of failing organs.

“I am inspired by so much effort across multiple disciplines to improve patient care and do my best to contribute towards translational technologies,” Horvath said. “It is exciting to me that we are acknowledged in this way early in our lab history. This speaks to the lab members and guidance, creating a special dynamic.”

Seconding Horvath in her admiration for her fellow Roche Lab members, Varela is grateful for the BMES honor and equally excited to continue contributing to the field.

Click here to read the paper.