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MIT pair honored for biopsy advance

Two MIT graduate students reached the finals of last week's Collegiate Inventors Competition, organized by the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation.

Conor Walsh and Nevan Hanumara, both graduate students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, were honored for their work on a device that makes needle biopsies less invasive. Their machine, called Robopsy, is a lightweight plastic device that holds a biopsy needle and can sit on a patient's chest during a CT scan.

The device could make lung biopsies easier and less time-consuming.

Doctors use CT scans to locate a suspicious mass in a patient, but they cannot be in the room during the scan because it uses radiation. They watch the scan and then return to the room to locate the right spot for the biopsy. Multiple needle insertions are often required. With the remote-controlled, robotic needle insertion, accuracy is increased and the procedure is shortened.

Robopsy won the grand prize for business venture in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in May.

Eleven teams of inventors reached the finals of the Collegiate Inventors Competition, and the winners were announced at a Nov. 1 ceremony on the Caltech campus. The grand prize of $25,000 went to Ian Cheong of Johns Hopkins University, who invented a novel way to target cancer cells.

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