Professional MS Student Spotlight: Micah Guffey
By: Nicole Bohatch, CMI Fellow
I recently had the opportunity to speak with current professional MS student Micah Guffey about his experience in the MS-MPE program and with Aneurisk.
Micah Guffey’s lifelong interest in problem-solving and medicine led him from his hometown in North Carolina to Geneva College (Beaver Falls, PA), where he earned a degree in biomedical engineering in 2022. His time at Geneva College fostered his interest in engineering solutions to healthcare problems and facilitated his connection with Joshua Woolley (Geneva College, BSc, & University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D.). Dr. Woolley, an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering, introduced Micah to bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, the Artificial Heart Program at UPMC, and Harvey Borovetz, Ph.D., who is a distinguished professor of Bioengineering and principal faculty member for the Bioengineering Professional Master’s Program. Dr. Borovetz introduced Micah to the entrepreneurial and project-based engineering opportunities offered by the MS-MPE program that would come to be the core of Micah’s bioengineering graduate experience at the University of Pittsburgh.
In the Fall of 2022, Micah was enrolled in a core curriculum course titled Medical Product Ideation. Taught by professors Alan Hirschman, Ph.D., and Joseph Samosky, Ph.D., this course teaches students how to use ethnography techniques to identify a problem statement based on an unmet clinical need and develop potential solutions. Micah and his team partnered with Timothy Chung, PhD, a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering, together they worked on a project focused on testing the clinical impact of an augmented reality presentation of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) 3D shape reconstruction and biomechanical analysis. Through this project, Micah and his team interviewed clinicians, researched clinical workflows, and assessed health economics for the potential adoption of the augmented reality visualization tool. This project was connected to a novel technology developed in the Vascular Bioengineering Lab of Principal Investigator David Vorp, Ph.D., called Aneurisk. The Aneurisk technology is an artificial intelligence-based clinical support tool used for AAA patient management that can reduce costs and improve outcomes by assessing the risk of AAA patients.
At the conclusion of the Medical Product Ideation course, Chung recruited Micah to continue his work with the team as the entrepreneurial lead for the NSF National Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program in Spring 2023. The National I-Corps program runs for 7 weeks and requires teams to complete 100 customer discovery interviews to determine product-market fit for their technology. During the program, Micah led the team in conducting the customer discovery efforts and testing the team’s business model hypotheses. Building off his experience in the Spring, he has continued his work with the team by helping write funding grant applications, developing a quality management system, and developing regulatory strategy. Micah is preparing to complete his MS-MPE degree in December 2023 and work full-time as Director of Operations for the company, AneuRisk Inc., which was co-founded by Chung, Vorp, and Nathan Liang, M.D., in February 2023 to commercialize the team’s technology.
As a winner of the recent Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh), the Aneurisk team was awarded $100,000 to continue working towards placing their tool in the hands of clinicians. The PInCh competition is hosted by the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and supports teams who develop innovative solutions to challenging health problems. Micah noted that the company’s success in the competition was “a great achievement for the Aneurisk team and a well-deserved recognition of the innovative work of the founding team and the rest of the development team.”
Micah reflected on the role that Drs. Woolley, Borovetz, Hirschman, Chung, and many others have taken in mentoring him during his time at the University of Pittsburgh. He says, “The faculty in the Bioengineering department and broader alumni network supported me with advice and guidance before I even started the MS-MPE program and have continued that support in meaningful ways during my time as a graduate student.” He also acknowledged the benefits of the programming offered through the MS-MPE program, “from the time I stepped onto campus, I’ve been exposed to innovation and entrepreneurship through guest speakers, professional panels, and seminars. The accessibility of these events helped me learn the opportunities Pitt has to offer for bioengineering students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Check out Micah’s LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/micah-guffey-56b34818b/
Check out Aneurisk’s website here: https://www.aneurisk.ai/