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Harshu Musunuri India & USA, 17

Project: InflammAid
Basic Human Needs: Education, Health

Harshu’s interest in sepsis began when it took the life of her close friend’s brother. She decided to apply her knowledge of synthetic polymers to help prevent and treat the inflammatory condition that kills millions of people each year. She founded InflammAid, an organization dedicated to fighting the global rise of sepsis through innovation and education. They have developed cost-effective technologies to improve the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, one of the leading causes of death in United States’ hospitals. Harshu designed and synthesized polymers that can bind to trace amounts of bacterial toxin. By doing so, the polymers help locate the source of the infection to prevent septic shock. These polymers don’t require refrigeration, can replace therapies that bacteria are becoming resistant to, and can easily be adopted in developing countries. Harshu is using data from thousands of patients to design a computational tool that clearly distinguishes symptoms of sepsis from other conditions, which is currently a great challenge for doctors. By predicting the onset of septic shock, this tool has the potential to prevent many deaths. Harshu has presented her research at prestigious scientific conferences including the Materials Research Society, Intel ISEF and Siemens Competition. Beyond their innovative technology, InflammAid has educated hundreds of senior citizens, students and professionals about sepsis, and trained medical professionals to respond more effectively. This year, Harshu plans to obtain an FDA IDE, getting her closer to the official implementation of her technology and widespread impact.