Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Stace-Naughton ’11, Th’13 Pays It Forward as CEDC Fellow

By Anna Fiorentino
June 2013 • Thayer By Degrees: BE

This month, just one year after filing a patent for her vacuum-assisted tissue stabilization device designed to prevent tissue damage during endoscopic surgery, Alison Stace-Naughton ’11, Th’13 was named Thayer's 2nd Cook Engineering Design Center (CEDC) Fellow. Now Stace-Naughton will be the one fostering innovation opportunities for other students, as was done for her two years ago leading up to the formation of her company Spiral-E Solutions, LLC.

Alison Stace-Naughton
Alison Stace-Naughton ’11, Th’13

She will spend this summer, after just receiving her BE, working with CEDC Director and Professor Ron Lasky, Professor William Lotko, and Professor Ryan Halter to coordinate alumni and industry sponsors. Sponsors submit $5,000 for student groups to solve a workplace problem—a hardware prototype, software program, a biotech process or a manufacturing process—in the fall and spring during the two-term capstone engineering design course, ENGS 89/90.

“I am hoping to explore more of the entrepreneurial focus at Thayer by finding the projects,” says Stace-Naughton. The CEDC was established in 1978 with the support from John Brown Cook '29 to create a bridge between industry and Thayer School. “My job, which will end in September, is to fill the database with 70 good projects for ENGS 89/90, in biotech, biomed and mechanical and electrical engineering,” she added. Stace-Naughton will be joined by the 3rd Thayer Design Fellow, Annie Saunders ’12, who traveled to Haiti last year to research a cost-effective water pump for post-earthquake Haiti for her ENGS 89/90 project.

Her own biomedical company has, in the past year, made significant progress with help from Thayer School in creating a working prototype with fiber-optic capabilities that allows surgeons to effectively close an incision without complication, using vacuum pressure to stabilize tissue around the area. Ongoing fundraising, combined with $25,000 in prize money after placing first in the 2012 Greener Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest held by Tuck School of Business, has also allowed her to refine the prototype and add optional retractor blades to the device to help keep the working platform space open.

“We recently did a lab with Dr. Santiago Horgan, Chief of Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery at UC San Diego Health System and the Center for the Future of Surgery, who did some clinical validation for us that jump-started some more prototype development,” says Stace-Naughton. She now manages Spiral-E Solutions after co-founding the company with ENGS 21: “Introduction to Engineering” classmates Ihab Basri ’13 and Brenna Gibbons ’12 and Ph.D. candidate Scott Snyder ’00 Th’01.

Scott Schorer ’90 Th’91, a medical-device industry professional, and Gregg Fairbrothers ’76, founding director of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, helped Stace-Naughton establish the company, file the patent, and connect with clinicians like Horgan to perform an ex-vivo study to validate the concept. Schorer, along with Ted Bertele, chief engineer at SB Technologies, LLC continue to work with Stace-Naughton on business and prototype development to meet a fundraising goal of $400,000 and ultimately get FDA approval so her device can land in clinics. Stace-Naughton also received a few pointers from Errik Anderson, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer for Adimab—an integrated antibody discovery and optimization company founded by Professor Tillman Gerngross—where she’ll also be working part-time this summer, in addition to honing her management skills at the CEDC.

“My plate will be full as Cook Fellow, running my company and working at Adimab, but I am excited to dive into all of these jobs and see where it takes me,” she says.

Tags: award, engineering in medicine, entrepreneurship, innovation, students

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