2014 Leaders in Health Care Awards: Achievement in Medical Devices



Paul Yager, Ph.D.
Professor, UW Department of Bioengineering

Paul Yager compares his many years of invention to being a forlorn parent. “Your children leave and then they don’t write,” he quips. But his latest effort writes messages on paper to send home.

The University of Washington professor of bioengineering is developing a disposable paper that can help diagnose malaria or other pathogens from a blood sample. The low-cost method, a form of DNA analysis called polymerase chain reaction amplification, produces a pattern of dots that can then be analyzed through a smartphone camera. That ability to cheaply bring the lab anywhere can benefit health care in the developing world and for soldiers in the field. 

This research builds on lessons Yager learned while developing the Gates Foundation-supported DxBox, a credit card-size “lab on a chip” for field diagnosis. Paper, like a towel or pregnancy test strip, naturally draws liquids by wicking, which can be split into channels. “It’s a simple idea that throws away 90 percent of your hardware,” Yager explains. 

Smartphones, he realized, dispose of the remaining hardware, with an analysis app or transmission to a lab. It’s one innovation Yager is sure to keep hearing back from.


Silver Awards

Brian Glaister
President and CEO, Cadence Biomedical

This young upstart firm and its device to help those with severe disabilities to walk is off to a fast sprint. Seattle-based Cadence Biomedical launched its Kickstart Walking System only last year, but the motorless, spring-driven leg armature is already helping many patients with weakened lower-body muscles to achieve independent living. Led by mechanical engineer Brian Glaister, Cadence’s system has drawn praise from clinicians and a contract from the Department of Defense to aid wounded veterans.

Conrad Smits
SVP Philips Healthcare, CEO Ultrasound Division

As ultrasound technology is used more as a diagnostic tool, advancements like Philips Healthcare’s EPIQ ultrasound system make a big impact. Developed and manufactured at Philips Ultrasound in Bothell, and led by general manager Conrad Smits, EPIQ is able to penetrate deeply into the body and provide images in high detail. Paired with its sophisticated anatomical database, the lightweight, user-friendly system can help provide accurate results at lower cost than many other tools.

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