(IAP ’12) Greg Tao G

I am a part of a team working on a low-cost autoclave for small clinics in the developing world. We began our work in early 2011 to combat the problem of post-surgical infection in developing nations. The incidence of post-surgical infection is dramatically higher in the developing world, 5-30%, as compared to the US, 2-3%. Infection rates vary widely and are poorly documented in developing nations, but higher rates are common in rural, resource-limited health clinics. Many believe this increased risk is linked to poor cleaning of invasive medical instruments between procedures.

We have devised a low-cost, pressure-cooker based solution that meets the CDC standard for sterilization of medical equipment. This is intended to replace inferior but commonly used techniques such as boiling or flaming instruments, which are not good enough to kill hardy, heat-resistant germs. Our first field test occurred over the summer of 2011 where 15 devices were delivered to small health posts and hospitals throughout Nepal. Design feedback over the summer along with continuing feedback from our users have driven design changes for our current device that we have prototyped and are field testing now.

Our autoclave is designed for robustness, low-cost, ease of replaceable parts, and user convenience. The d

Modular design of the autoclave

Our autoclave\’s modular product architecture make the device very flexible. The variety of acceptable heating sources makes it applicable worldwide. The pot module uses a low-cost pressure cooker that are widely available in many developing nations and very low-cost. The cycle monitor module make the process very easy for an unskilled user to use the autoclave correctly.

Our current team consists of 3 people:

Greg Tao (that’s me!)
Nepali Lead
I am the team’s technical lead and am designing and fabricating the autoclave as my master’s thesis in MIT’s mechanical engineering department. I has extensive experience designing and prototyping medical products as well as a background in pre-medicine. My industry experience includes interning for Ethicon-endo Surgery and Apple Inc. The next generation of the MIT autoclave is undergoing field testing now, January 2012, and is focusing on tailoring the design to meet the target market’s needs. This is my 2nd trip to Nepal, after the the team trip over summer 2011.

Shambhu Koirala
Nepali Lead
Shambhu is a sophomore majoring in bioengineering at MIT from Solukhumbu, a remote Nepali district near Mt. Everest. He has used his extensive list of contacts in Nepal to connect with and maintain feedback from hospitals and health posts. His experience organizing large events, like a nationwide Nepali cricket tournament and work with the American Embassy in Nepal was very valuable in organizing the autoclave user network. Shambhu continues to work in partnership with the clinics and plays a key role in establishing new partnerships. He is also an essential design consultant, helping the team understand the cultural nuances and government policies that can make or break the product. Shambhu traveled to Nepal with the team in summer 2011.

Sue Cho
Business Strategy Lead
Hallie is a second year graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. Her research focus is in product adoption, product development processes, and complex systems dynamics. She graduated with a dual-degree in Mechanical Engineering and Management from MIT in 2010. She has experiences in product design (3 medical equipments and 7 consumer goods products), running a startup, supply chain management and designing distribution channels. Hallie will be mainly involved in conducting ethnography research, understanding product adoption rates at the clinics, and developing a viable business strategy for the manufacturing partners.

he thinks it's pretty cool, eh?

The autoclave was demonstrated and donated to 15 clinics within nepal over the summer of 2011.

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