NYU Dentistry COVID-19 Diagnostic App Receives Award in HHS Design-a-Thon


A COVID-19 diagnostic tool created by researchers at NYU Dentistry has earned first place in the People’s Choice Award in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) COVID-19 At-Anywhere Diagnostics Design-a-Thon.

The winning NYU technology is a mobile app to help clinicians determine which patients with COVID-19 are likely to have severe cases, connecting lab tests and other biomarkers with a patient’s electronic health record and bringing them to a clinician’s fingertips. Using point-of-care diagnostic tools with embedded artificial intelligence and cloud connected databases, the app allows the user to input critical data and receive a “severity score” in real-time. John McDevitt, PhD, professor of biomaterials at NYU Dentistry and professor of chemical and molecular engineering at NYU Tandon, led the development of the technology, building on his existing artificial intelligence-linked point-of-care diagnostic technologies.

Dr. McDevitt and his team built and validated the model for the “severity score” using clinical data from patients in China and New York City, which they published in Lab on a Chip in June. They then retrospectively evaluated the app at the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone in Brooklyn, one of the nation’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center networks. By optimizing the tool for use in Federally Qualified Health Centers, which provide outpatient care to underserved populations, the researchers are responding to the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on these communities.

“This smart diagnostic ecosystem is positioned now to provide the most comprehensive COVID-19 clinical decision support system,” said Dr. McDevitt.

The Design-a-Thon—which aimed to increase speed, quality, comprehensiveness, and utility of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test data—attracted over 700 participants over a 10-day technology innovation sprint. Thirty-one teams submitted final projects for judging, and 16 were given awards on December 17. Winners of the Design-a-Thon will advance to a 6-week TOPx (The Opportunity Project) virtual tech sprint to expedite further development starting in January 2021. The culmination of TOPx is a public-facing "Demo Day," which will showcase many potential solutions and products from different organizations