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ENG Student’s Award-Winning Technology

$150,000 prize will help develop point-of-care multi-pathogen test


PhD student George Daaboul (BME) with the fast, user-friendly pathogen detection platform (IRIS) he's helping to develop. Photo by Mark Dwortzan

George Daaboul, a PhD student in biomedical engineering (BME) who designed a fast and easy-to-use microfluidic device to test for a number of diseases in the field, is the winner of the 2011 CIMIT Student Prize for Primary Healthcare, which comes with $150,000 in seed funding. The national competition, open to graduate and undergraduate students from accredited engineering programs, awards prizes annually for technologic innovations that offer the potential to improve the delivery of health care.

Daaboul’s award-winning technology, which he began developing as part of his top-ranked BME senior design project in 2009, could enable physicians to quickly pinpoint viral infections and reduce unnecessary antiviral and antibiotic usage.

“The prize money will allow me to apply the technology where I believe it will have the most impact on health care delivery,” said Daaboul (ENG’11, ’16). “My initial goal will be to establish a universal detection platform for infectious disease diagnostics, and demonstrate it with influenza and other viruses.”

Daaboul edged out nine other finalists from Yale; MIT; Johns Hopkins; Texas A&M; the University of California, Berkeley; Kansas State University; and Northeastern University.

“We are delighted with the quality of the entries this prize competition has elicited each year amongst engineering students,” said Ronald Newbower, director of the competition and cofounder of the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), a consortium of Boston-area teaching hospitals and universities. “The winners of our major awards are headed toward truly significant careers and may well serve as role models for others in their field.”

To develop the diagnostic platform, known as the interferometric reflectance imaging sensor (IRIS), Daaboul is advancing sensor and microfluidics technology in collaboration with his advisor, Selim Ünlü, an ENG professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and a team of multidisciplinary researchers. The team is advancing a new method that enables detection of single viral particles with far more sensitivity and specificity than existing detection methods, a method that could enable clinicians to isolate individual virus particles of interest.

“George’s work is a stellar example of innovative and multidisciplinary thinking in a broad collaboration with medical and international researchers,” said Ünlü. “His research will have a significant impact in viral diagnostics by advancing the technology beyond the state-of-the-art while making it inexpensive and widely accessible.”

This year’s CIMIT contest fielded applications for the Primary Healthcare prize from 33 engineering programs nationally.

Mark Dwortzan can be reached at dwortzan@bu.edu.


9 Comments on ENG Student’s Award-Winning Technology

  • Omar on 07.21.2011 at 5:35 am

    Mabrook George!

  • Jeff on 07.21.2011 at 9:20 am


    This BU student should be congratulated for a job well done. We will all benefit from the use of this innovative device!

  • Anonymous on 07.21.2011 at 12:31 pm

    Genius George

    Congrats George!!!! So many people will be able to benefit from this!! :)

  • Anonymous on 07.21.2011 at 12:38 pm

    Congratulations! May you continue to excel in your work for the benefit of humanity and the rest of the environment, and may happiness be yours. Thank you for your hard work.

  • Anonymous on 07.21.2011 at 2:10 pm

    Nicely done!

    I and others are so happy that you have made this contribution to humanity at such a young age. May you keep up the good work!

  • Harrison on 07.23.2011 at 8:30 am


    Hey George congrats! Never forget ELECTRIC CIRCUIT THEORY! You da man

  • Jabar Elmassih on 01.14.2012 at 11:07 am

    Congratulations Georges. We are proud of you.

  • Rouba Lakkis on 01.15.2012 at 9:18 pm

    Well Done George, Congratulation & wish you will keep up the great work & innovation.. Way to go for more & more

  • Ben on 05.20.2013 at 12:13 am

    This is truly awesome. George should be proud of his work. Congratulations on the award, George!

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