The Pitt Innovation Challenge 2022

What is your bold solution to a challenging health problem?


Congratulations to this year's finalists!

The following teams will be competing for three $100,000 awards and three $35,000 awards at the PInCh Final Event on Wednesday October 19:

Actin Against ALS (A3) (Christi Kolarcik, PhD; Partha Roy, PhD): Novel small molecule compounds that target aberrant protein-protein interactions as a potential therapeutic for treating ALS by normalizing cytoskeletal disruptions.

Biocarpet (Jonathan Vande Geest, PhD; Ali Behrangzade): A flexible and fully biodegradable endovascular device that aims to prevent the high rate of restenosis and re-interventions often required in treating peripheral arterial diseases.

DCA Therapy to Protect Against Kidney Injury (Sunder Sims-Lucas, PhD): Identifying dicarboxylic medium chain fatty acids as a therapeutic to protect against acute kidney injury.

Engaging Together for Healthy Relationships (Maya Ragavan, MD, MPH, MS): A dating violence prevention intervention for pediatric primary care settings that engages parents, adolescents, and healthcare providers.

Micro-shield: Abdominal Adhesion Prevention (Steven Little, PhD; Thiagarajan Meyyappan, MD): A biodegradable microparticle system to prevent the formation or surgical adhesions and small bowel obstructions after major abdominal surgeries.

Vanish Bioresorbable Stimulator (Trent Emerick, MD, MBA): An implantable stimulator for patients with severe acute and chronic pain, who have failed conservative therapies and looking for non-opioid alternatives.


Elevator Pitch Competition

The following teams are competing for two $25,000 awards in the virtual Elevator Pitch Competition:

3D Printed Filters (Markus Chmielus, PhD; Aaron Arcierno): Reusable, sterilizable metal filters that can fit into N95 respirators, ventilators, HVAC systems, and other equipment for increased protection against infection in hospitals.

BIONIC: Naloxone Biofeedback Patch (Gaurav Chauhan, MD; Alexander Star, PhD): A naloxone patch with biofeedback capabilities, which can help prevent opioid overdose and address the shortcomings of other forms of naloxone administration.

BlindSight (Avniel Ghuman, PhD): A neural prosthetic to give functionally useful sight to blind individuals by leveraging safe neurosurgical procedures, computational neuroscience, computer vision, and AI.

CM4StUD: Modernizing Contingency Management (Ilana Hull, MD; James Latronica, DO): Building a modern contingency management program to treat stimulant use disorder, rewarding participation of in-person care with a new compensation model.

CREAM Depression: Augmented Reality BCI (Mary Woody, PhD): A brain-computer interface (BCI) for retraining attention in augmented reality among people at high-risk for major depressive disorder.

PICS-p Family Ed (Ericka Fink, MD, MS): A professional grade video library to educate caregivers about Post-Intensive Care Syndrome - pediatrics (PICS-p) to improve patient and family recovery after critical illness.


Join the challenge!

Applications are due Monday, May 2 at 11:59 p.m.

The Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh®) 2022 is seeking your bold solution to a challenging health problem. We encourage proposals from any discipline and on any topic that impacts health. Ideas can span the spectrum of health and healthcare, including disease prevention, diagnostics, treatments, interventions, predictive solutions, patient care, provider and patient tools, and community programs.

Your solution does not need to be a product that is ready for commercialization. We welcome early-stage ideas, and projects that can achieve health and societal impact through commercial and non-commercialization pathways. We encourage projects that create new connections within the academic community, and among universities and community organizations.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, visit the FAQ page or e-mail us at


A total of $555,000 in awards are available, with one-year awards ranging from $25,000 - $100,000.

In addition to receiving funding for direct costs, each winning team will receive project management support to help execute a 12-month project that moves the team’s solution one step further along the path of development.

Bonus Award

Does your team include faculty leads from both the School of Engineering and Schools of Health Sciences? If so, your project may be eligible for an additional award up to $15,000.  

Bonus Award qualification is separate from selection for PInCh awards; bonus-eligible projects will receive additional funding, but will not otherwise have a competitive advantage.

How to Enter

The Pitt Innovation Challenge is a multi-round competition:

  • Round One: A two-minute video describing the problem you plan to solve, your idea for a bold novel solution, and your team.
  • Round Two: Selected* teams will be invited to submit a written document expanding on their idea (Project Description, Budget, Budget Justification), and file an Invention Disclosure with the Innovation Institute.
  • Round Three: Selected* teams will be invited to submit a Response to Reviewers, and pitch their idea to a panel of judges at the PInCh final event on Wednesday, October 19.

*Participants for Rounds Two and Three are chosen from prior rounds; it is not possible to enter PInCh at Round Two or Three. Please refer to each Round's webpage for submission requirements. 

Need help with your submission? Email us at We’d be happy to connect with you to discuss your ideas and offer guidance on the submission. First-time PInCh applicants and those who have not received awards previously are highly encouraged to contact us.


Entries will be reviewed by a diverse panel of judges representing academia and community members.  Please refer to the Round pages for details on specific judging criteria.

In general, priority will be placed on the following criteria:

  • Problem Definition & Significance
  • Solution & Innovation
  • Team*

*Teams must include at least one University of Pittsburgh faculty member, and are encouraged to include cross-discipline (or multi-university) academic partners and community groups or businesses.

Final Event

The Pitt Innovation Challenge award winners will be chosen at the final event where teams will pitch their solutions in front of a panel of judges.

The final event will take place on Wednesday, October 19. Updates will be posted here and on Twitter at #PittPInChEvent.

Join the challenge!

Applications are due Monday, May 2 at 11:59 p.m.