Rice bioengineer wins international design contest


Liebschner's OsteoSonic(TM) takes grand prize in 'Create the Future' design contest

HOUSTON, March 4, 2004 -- Rice bioengineer Michael Liebschner has been named the grand prize winner in the "Create The Future" Design Contest sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs magazine, Emhart Teknologies and SolidWorks Corp.

Liebschner, assistant professor of bioengineering, won the contest for designing the OsteoSonicTM, a non-invasive damage detection system that will help doctors better diagnose bone fractures and bone loss that results from osteoporosis. As the grand prize winner, Liebschner wins either $20,000 cash or a Toyota Prius hybrid automobile.

Liebschner received the grand prize trophy at a Feb. 23 gala in Chicago. The OsteoSonicTM and other winning inventions will be featured in a special supplemental issue of NASA Tech Brief's in April. The contest attracted more than 1,100 entries from engineering professionals, students, and the general public from more than 30 countries.

"The competition for this award was tremendous, so I am extremely honored to have been selected the grand prize winner," said Liebschner, director of Rice's Computational and Experimental Biomechanics Laboratory. "This award reflects well on all of the talented students and researchers who are working on translational research in the bioengineering and bioscience field at Rice."

Liebschner's device uses acoustic waves to measure the structural integrity of bone. This offers advantages over existing radiological diagnostics that are used to measure bone density because it measures the actual structural integrity of the bone rather than a two-dimensional cross section of the bone density. Testing of the system is currently underway at Rice.

In partnership with Liebschner, John Osborne, an MBA student at Rice's Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, is in the process of establishing a startup company to develop the OsteoSonicTM. Production of a prototype is expected within a year, and mass production is expected within two to five years.

NASA Tech Briefs, the largest U.S.-circulation engineering magazine, is a monthly publication featuring exclusive reports of innovations developed by NASA and its industry partners/contractors. Authored by the engineers or scientists who did the work, the briefs span a wide array of fields, including electronics, physical sciences, materials, computer software, mechanics, machinery/automation, manufacturing/fabrication, mathematics/information sciences, and life sciences.

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