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A mix of excitement and anticipation filled the air as BWHers waited in Bornstein Amphitheater for the winner of this year's BRIght Futures Prize to be announced.
More than 5,000 BWHers and people across the globe cast their votes for one of three final projects competing for the grand prize of $100,000 to fund their innovative work.
Utkan Demirci, PhD, of BWH's Bio-Acoustic MEMS in Medicine (BAMM) Laboratories and the divisions of Biomedical Engineering and Infectious Diseases, was declared the winner shortly after 5:20 p.m.
A humbled Demirci accepted the award for his project, which seeks to help epilepsy patients and their doctors take control over when and where their blood tests are done. He is designing a device that patients can use to test their blood at home, which can help their doctors better manage their medications to prevent seizures, emergency room visits and side effects, and hopefully save lives.
Utkan Demirci accepts this year's BRIght Futures Prize from the BRI's Jacqueline Slavik.
"I would like to thank BWH for creating such an innovative environment that allows these kinds of projects to come through. This was the hardest and most interesting project proposal I've worked on-and the one I stressed the most about until a few seconds ago," said an overwhelmed Demirci, to a chuckling audience. "All three projects are amazing. I think they all deserved to win. I congratulate the other two projects, and thank you for the opportunity to be chosen."
Demirci's competition included Bohdan Pomahac, MD, and Jeff Karp, PhD, who are developing a microneedle adhesive that could attach to tissue to rapidly seal wounds and connect tissues without severe damage. Also in the running were Daniel Solomon, MD, MPH, and Joel Weissman, PhD, with a proposed online portal that would allow BWH patients to join health communities, connect to researchers and sign up for clinical trials.
Added Demirci: "This is a different kind of award, since it was voted by the people, so it carries an important value. Hopefully it will serve people and patients in the long run."
View the video below about Demirci's leading-edge work: