Congratulations to Sem Lampotang, PhD, FSSH, FAIMBE, Gordon L. Gibby, MD, MSEE, David Lizdas, BSME, and their team, who have been honored with a UF Innovations of the Year award for the PanVentTM low-cost, open-source ventilator they created during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The award from UF Innovate | Tech Licensing was presented during a virtual awards ceremony on Sept. 22 honoring six inventions of the year chosen from 393 inventions disclosed in fiscal year 2020.
The PanVentTM initiative began with a March 16 email from Associate Professor Patrick Tighe, MD, MS, who suggested an open-source, 3D-printed ventilator as the pandemic accelerated in the United States. At the time, the medical community was scrambling to treat the sickest patients.
“There were all these dire predictions that we would need 1 million ventilators in the U.S., never mind other countries,” Dr. Lampotang, the Joachim S. Gravenstein Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of the Center for Safety, Simulation & Advanced Learning Technologies (CSSALT), said during a video presentation at the ceremony. “We already knew in March that the components you need to build a ventilator were bought out. We were faced with essentially a design problem: How do you build 800,000 ventilators when the supply chain has been depleted?”
That sparked the idea to use parts from hardware stores, which have equivalent capabilities but have never traditionally been used for medical devices. The ventilator is made of plentiful components outside the ventilator supply chain, such as air-tight PVC water pipes, lawn-sprinkler valves, and an Arduino microcontroller board all costing less than $400.
“Sem took it upon himself to design a ventilator that was possible to be made out of locally sourced valves and products, that would be Home Depot and Lowe’s,” Jim O’Connell, Assistant Vice President for Commercialization and Director of UF Innovate, said as he presented the award with David P. Norton, PhD, Vice President for UF Research.
The Anesthesiology Communications and Publishing Office created a website on March 17 to share the open-source design, which attracted support from a worldwide network of coders, engineers, ham radio operators, and physicians. Messages and ideas poured in from South Africa to Canada to Ireland.
The team worked throughout the spring to obtain a Design Emergency Use Authorization, or DEUA, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a process that remains ongoing. This approval of the fixed design would allow the ventilator to be used in U.S. hospitals when other options have been exhausted; for volunteers across the world seeking to build ventilators, the open-source design was made publicly available.
Hera Lichtenbeld, Licensing Manager for UF Innovate| Tech Licensing, nominated the PanVentTM for the award and praised them for their innovation and the rapid creation of the website to solicit collaborators.
“I’m very proud of what you did and what you were able to pull off in a couple of weeks,” she said. “I hope you all continue with this initiative, get the DEUA, and get the ventilator out to the public and help patients that really need it and are not in a luxury position to go to a hospital where they have it for them as we do here in Florida.”
The PanVentTM team included Dr. Gibby, retired Associate Professor of Anesthesiology; Travis Johnson, Tony DeStephens, and Ilana Zarour of CSSALT; Spyros Svoronos, PhD, Professor of Chemical Engineering; Professor Sean Niemi, PhD, and Noel Thomas of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Michael Stapleton of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Jennifer Nichols, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering; and others.