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Dodda Takes Top Prize at IDSA IDEA Incubator Competition

Published on 20 December 2019

The innovative work of P3 student Sai Dodda received grand prize accolades during the Infectious Diseases Society of America's (IDSA) second annual IDEA Incubator, a competition hosted by IDSA to showcase inventions, products and devices designed to improve patient care for infectious diseases during ID Week.

Dodda recently collaborated with colleagues from Washington University in St. Louis and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to develop a device, known as HIVE, to monitor medication adherence in patients undergoing outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT). Dodda and his team were among four finalists selected by IDSA to present their innovations at the IDEA Incubator event, which was held in Washington, D.C. last fall.

In creating HIVE, the team worked to develop a solution for the issue of non-adherence among OPAT patients.

"We know that poor adherence and the inability to properly counsel non-adherent patients leads to worsened outcomes, such as increased infections and hospital readmissions," said Dodda. "Every year more than 300,000 people receive OPAT, which enables them to get intravenous therapy (IV) for infections while remaining at home or in an outpatient clinic. However, 16% of those patients are readmitted to the hospital for non-adherence. With this problem at hand, we experimented with different ways that we could better track adherence. Through countless brainstorming sessions, our team was able to develop the design for our product."

Dodda and his team created a device that attaches to a patient's catheter (PICC line), where the IV injection takes place, to measure when and how long the patient takes their medication. The data gathered from the device can then be sent to a patient's doctor or pharmacist who can then help counsel those who are non-adherent.

"Patients with severe bacterial infections will usually get their medication through an IV route in order to receive a more concentrated response," Dodda explained. "In recent years, there has been a large push to allow patients to undergo OPAT treatment at home, which makes the ability to better monitor these patients critically important."

In an effort to help get the word out about their innovative device, Dodda and his team applied for IDSA's IDEA Incubator competition in spring of 2019. Their entry was one of 51 entries received by IDSA. That summer, Dodda and his team were notified that they would be one of just four teams selected to present at the competition before a panel of judges from the business, technology and medical sectors. The presentation ultimately earned the team the $10,000 grand prize. 

"Getting recognized nationally really helps justify all of the hard work that we put into the project, but more importantly, this recognition will help us increase the awareness of our product which was our overall goal in competing," Dodda said. "We gained a lot of connections and learned a lot about the infectious disease field."

Following their grand prize win in the IDEA Incubator competition, the team is looking to enter additional competitions with the hope of accumulating more capital to conduct a clinical trial for their product to establish its safety and efficacy.

With Dodda preparing to graduate in 2021, he's looking forward to a career focused on the innovative and entrepreneurial aspects of pharmacy.

"This project has really helped me understand the financial aspects of medical device development and has made me interested in the business side of the pharmaceutical industry," Dodda said. "Moreover, I also plan on continuing the HIVE project until the very end. The goal of our project is to eventually have our device in the hands of all OPAT patients, and I want to make that happen."

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