Two Carle Illinois College of Medicine students are among the finalists for two prestigious campus-wide innovation awards through the Technology Entrepreneur Center in The Grainger College of Engineering. The Illinois Innovation Prize (IIP) for $20,000 is awarded annually to a creative and passionate student working towards innovative solutions that could have a positive societal impact.

And the Fiddler Innovation Fellowship for $10,000 supports innovations that address cultural or global challenges that incorporate creativity, the arts/design, and technology into interdisciplinary solutions. The Fellowship is part of an endowment from Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden to the University of Illinois in support of the Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media (eDream) Institute, which is based at the National Center for Supercomputing Application.

This year five students made it to the finalist list, two of them from Carle Illinois. Learn more about them.

Ariana Barreau, MD Class of 2024, Carle Illinois College of Medicine

Ariana Barreau

Ariana Barreau aspires to be a physician-innovator who solves health disparities and improves patients’ quality of life. She is the co-founder of ProteCKD, a chronic kidney disease (CKD) pre-screening program that aims to reduce racial disparities in renal care and health expenditures in CKD care. African Americans are 3.5x more likely to reach end-stage CKD compared to white counterparts and are less likely to know that they have CKD. Ariana has developed a CKD pre-screening kit that includes urine-testing strips and educational materials to connect users to local and affordable healthcare resources. Ariana aims to offer marginalized patients an economical way to assess CKD risk for early diagnosis and treatment. She plans to partner with food banks, shelters, and other social programs to distribute kits to communities that need it the most.

Passionate about promoting interdisciplinary innovation and facilitating medical entrepreneurship, Ariana has also co-founded AxisMED, a healthcare pre-incubator that aims to provide a launch pad for students interested in advancing medicine and grow a collaborative community of healthcare entrepreneurs across campus.

Shonit Nair Sharma, MD Class of 2023, Carle Illinois College of Medicine

Shonit Sharma

Shonit Sharma is dedicated to applying technology and engineering to solve complex healthcare problems affecting a diverse global population. He has developed Paperometer, a low-cost and environmentally friendly version of the incentive spirometer (a handheld breathing tube). Made of paper, Paperometer, is a respiratory rehabilitation device for patients with reduced lung function, including coronavirus-related pulmonary symptoms. Respiratory disease is a leading cause of death and disability globally, with over 1 billion people suffering from illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, and COVID-19. Shonit partnered with the Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s Health Maker Lab, Department of Bioengineering, Carle Foundation Hospital, and i-MADE (RSO) to prototype, publish, and test his device for distribution to low-resource settings. He also helped address the PPE shortage during the pandemic by creating a reusable respiratory mask with user-friendly instruction guide.

Shonit is also leading an Institutional Review Board-approved study to identify retinal biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, the primary cause of dementia, affecting 47 million people worldwide. He hopes to inspire the next generation of physician-innovators to reframe problems as creative opportunities.

A full list of finalists and the original article can be found here.

The Awards Ceremony LIVESTREAM, is scheduled for Thursday, April 15 at 6:00pm. No registration necessary. Click here for more information.