Mar 2019
Mar 2019

Team led by Indian American wins MIT Prize for new cost-effective ventilator

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced in a school report that the Indian American-led team Umbulizer was named as the winner of the Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize competition.

Umbulizer, led by founders Shaheer Piracha and Harvard Medical School student Sanchay Gupta; as well as MIT alumni Moiz Imam and Abdurrahman Akkas; MIT mechanical engineering student Wasay Answer; Boston University student Rohan Jadeja; and Farzan Khan, was selected over the seven other inventions pitched at the finals of the competition.

The student team of Umbulizer won $20,000 to help fund the clinical trial for their device they claim can help 90 percent of patients struggling to breathe, at a fraction of the cost of traditional ventilators, the MIT report said.

The event, which is open to entrepreneurial students from Boston-area colleges and universities, featured eight finalist teams pitching their health care innovations to a group of judges and a packed audience at MIT Sloan’s Wong Auditorium, it said.

Piracha and Gupta gave the winning pitch for the Umbulizer team, according to the report.

Umbulizer’s device will cost around $2,000 compared to the $15,000 price tag of regular ventilators. The key to the team’s cost savings is its decision to focus on providing the four most common functions of ventilators with the device.

Machine ventilators are typically designed to perform 15 different functions, many of which are rarely needed to save a life, Piracha told the audience, the MIT report added.

A little over 40 teams applied to this year’s competition, but only eight teams earned the right to pitch in the finals. Each team had five minutes to give their presentations, which were judged based on five categories including the solution’s impact, novelty, market opportunity, feasibility, and traction.

Mar 2019

San Francisco Mayor appoints Indian American Manohar Raju as public defender

In a historic move, San Francisco Mayor London Breed has announced the appointment of Indian American Manohar “Mano” Raju as San Francisco public defender. 

The 50-year-old Raju is the son of immigrants from India. He had managed the San Francisco Public Defender's felony unit and has been with the office for 11 years. He first began working as a public defender in Contra Costa County 18 years ago.

In a press statement March 11, Mayor Breed said: “Mano has demonstrated a commitment to justice and equity on behalf of not only his clients but also the entire community that the Public Defender’s Office serves.”

“His advocacy for addressing systemic challenges to help those who need it most demonstrates that he will continue Jeff Adachi’s legacy of not only fighting in the courtroom but also fighting to change policies and support innovative programs that make a difference in the community,” she said.

"We are going to renew and recharge our commitment to excellence for our clients," Raju said. "We are going to continue broader reform efforts; we are going to continue to protect the public against overreaching government abuses. We are going to continue our struggle for racial justice in this city and statewide, and we are going to deepen our empowering engagement with the communities we serve."

Raju spoke of his appreciation of Breed for keeping the appointment within the public defender's office.

Raju will serve as an interim public defender until elections are held on Nov. 5, which will determine who will serve the remaining three years of previous public defender Jeff Adachi, who died suddenly on Feb. 22. San Francisco is the only county in California that elects its public defender.

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