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Innovators preview their UW Innovation Summit presentations

In addition to keynote speeches from Ralph Haupter, CEO of Microsoft’s Greater China Region, and Jian Wang, co-founder and president of BGI International, the inaugural University of Washington Innovation Summit will also feature four UW innovators, who previewed their presentations this week:



“Data empathy” is a concept Gina Neff is studying, and refers to how organizations can better meet the expectations people have for how their personal data will be used. Neff, an associate professor of communication, says the health-care system has examples that the technology industry can learn from, such as how providers now use patient data to not only build a relationship with patients, but also spur better health outcomes.


PATEL2-e1432233690432-375x281Much of that data may be collected by sensors in development by Shwetak Patel. His research involves using sensors to improve health and sustainability, including the sensors on mobile phones — namely microphones and cameras. Patel, the Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has been developing tools that utilize these everyday sensors to diagnose everything from pulmonary conditions to infant jaundice. He’s also researching how energy and water usage can be better managed through residential sensing technology.


The innovators featured at the Summit aren’t exclusively faculty members. In fact, entrepreneurship and innovation are hallmarks of the UW student experience, as evidenced by a second pair of presenters:


BENWATERS-e1432234225501Ben Waters, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering, has focused his research around wirelessly powering the technologies that are playing an increasing role in shaping — and even saving — our lives. One of his innovations provides a way to wirelessly power left ventricular assist devices, which keep patients alive while awaiting heart transplants. Currently, these must be powered through a wire that pierces the skin, heightening the risk of infection. He’s also developing ways to power mobile robotics, from drones to robotic vacuum cleaners.



And a personal tragedy served as the inspiration for Adina Mangubat, CEO of Spiral Genetics and a 2009 UW graduate with a degree in psychology. The death of her grandfather from lung cancer has driven her to innovate in the area of personalized medicine, specifically by creating a company that develops software for large-scale DNA sequencing. Such sequencing enables the genetic factors for certain conditions to be identified more quickly and for treatments to be personalized for maximum effectiveness.


More information about the Summit, including how to purchase tickets, is available at