University of Minnesota researchers address unique COVID-19 challenges through innovation

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Among supply chain challenges, limited numbers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, researchers and students at the University of Minnesota have been thinking up and implementing bold ideas to solve the unique problems presented during COVID-19. 

Examples of medical devices and PPEs created by interdisciplinary teams at the University include the following:

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The Coventor is an emergency ventilator alternative that can be used in clinical settings where traditional ventilators are not available. In April, the Coventor received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the open source design files, which anyone can download and use for free, were posted online in May. To date, approximately 5,000 units have been built with Boston Scientific and Appareo Systems. Read more about the Coventor.

Gown for U
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The Gown for U project began late April when M Health Fairview Hospitals and Clinics developed a dire shortage of level one healthcare worker gowns. Requiring up to 10,000 gowns a day, the daunting task of designing and manufacturing gowns was undertaken by a team of 17 undergraduate biomedical engineering students, led by Professor Steven Saliterman. Within two weeks, the design was completed, material specified and production set into motion. The gown provides a barrier to infection, and can be easily donned and doffed. The University designed gown is available for open access and is being manufactured globally. The open source design files, which anyone can download and use for free, were posted online. Read more about Gown for U.

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MNmask was created to address the growing shortage of protective masks by providing a viable, easily-produced alternative when regular masks are unavailable. The mask uses verified, tested filter material to block the transfer of viruses and other components sourced from non-endangered supply chains. MNmasks can be styled in three different ways for clinical and general-purpose uses. In May, production for M Health Fairview began and the open source design files, which anyone can download and use for free, were posted online. Read more about MNMask.

Additional entrepreneurial projects developed at the University to combat COVID-19 include testing phone-booths at M Health Fairview and the Respiratory Safety Shield and System. Entrepreneur inventions in the design and testing process include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing on cell phones, 3D printable ventilator components, and a low cost ECMO device. Work in PCR and antibody testing, developing a vaccine, improvising virtual care, and much more is ongoing at the University.


Contact Katrinna Dodge at for high-resolution image files.

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