Botvinick and his team of researchers plan to save lives one med tech startup at a time

Behind secure-access passageways at the UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering lie several labs developing inventions that could save the lives of millions. Elliot Botvinick, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering, leads a team of researchers working to develop innovative, non-invasive devices for instant detection of multiple life-threatening conditions.

Professor Botvinick is a powerhouse of innovation with more than 20 inventions and four patents to his name. His method for rapid, non-invasive detection of ear infection in children led to the creation of Cactus Medical, a startup to market the technology. Much like a standard ear scope, his device features a “magic button” giving clinicians a metric that determines whether a child has middle ear effusion, or a build-up of fluid behind the ear drum. An often overlooked condition, if left untreated, it can cause pain, affect hearing and even require surgery.

“Elliot has a real knack for entrepreneurship,” says Sean White, Cactus Medical cofounder. “He builds companies to leverage [his technologies] in the best way possible.”

As if one extra-curricular venture weren’t enough, Botvinick has launched Fieldionics, Inc. to market a detection device for Type 1 diabetes and sepsis. He became aware for such rapid detection in 2016 after hearing a speaker talk about the need for a technology that can help save injured soldiers who pass away despite normal vital signs.

Elliot Botvinick, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor Botvinick and his prolific labs are supported by the ready resources of UCI Beall Applied Innovation.

“It’s a close relationship allowing us to use patent attorneys and just being involved every step of the way,” Professor. Botvinick says. “When I speak to my colleagues at other universities, they simply don’t have this experience. Richard [Sudek – Executive Director of Applied Innovation] has created something special and rare.”

Both Cactus Medical and Fieldionics are well on their way toward full commercialization. Professor Botvinick and Professor Ali Mohraz, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, recently received a grant to develop an insulin infusion set with greater lifetime and faster delivery.

“If the infusion set works, we have every intention of disrupting that market. It’s a multibillion-dollar one,” says Professor Botvinick.

If his ventures find success, Professor Botvinick intends to push for the construction of a specialized biomedical engineering building at UCI.

He summarizes, “My main focus is to keep the snowball going…and ultimately having people who are smarter than me invent better things, get them commercialized and save people’s lives."