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Students create early detection method for cancer

Published April 2017

A microchip and a single drop of blood could hold the key to early detection of pancreatic cancer.

NDSU graduate students Fataneh Karandish and James Froberg earned first place in the Service category of Innovation Challenge ’17 for creating a novel way to test for cancer. The annual competition features new, unique or re-imagined products and services developed by NDSU students in four tracks: Agriculture, Product, Service and Social Impact.

“The Innovation Challenge gave me the opportunity to grow, learn and explore new possibilities,” said Karandish, a fourth-year doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences from Iran. “The competition compelled me to come out of my comfort zone, develop new skills and increase my confidence.”

The project, titled “Single Cell Diagnosis,” could be a breakthrough for early detection of pancreatic cancer, which can be hard to diagnose because it has few early symptoms.

Karandish and Froberg developed a microchip that responds to the presence of pancreatic cancer cells in a single drop of blood when exposed to an electric current. The current’s intensity decreases with the presence of pancreatic cancer cells in the blood.

The innovation could become an at-home early diagnostic kit for pancreatic cancer, and could eventually be modified to detect other types of cancer in early stages.

“By participating in this challenge, I learned a lot about how to give presentations and how to get other people interested in what I’m doing,” said Froberg, a physics doctoral student. “I think these skills will be very valuable later in my life and career.”

The winner in each of the Innovation Challenge’s categories received a $5,000 prize. Second place earned $1,000 and third place earned $500. Showcase attendees also voted during the semifinal round for a $1,000 “People’s Choice Award” winner.

Innovation Challenge is presented by the NDSU Office of the Provost, in partnership with the NDSU Research and Technology Park.

Other recognized projects and students include:


First place – “Ag Innovations,” which created a tool to dynamically generate simple accurate and unbiased recommendations for farm chemical applications, by Reed Lawrence, a senior Business major from Bloomington, Minnesota, and Samuel Hanson, a senior crop and weed science major from Benson, Minnesota.

Second place – “Sustainable Sporting Goods,” a project to create the next generation of high-performance sporting goods sourced from agricultural products, by mechanical engineering graduate students Britt Helten, from Devils Lake, North Dakota, Ali Amiri, and Victoria Burkhart, from Cummings, North Dakota.

Third place – “PediCow,” a project to change the way farmers prevent lameness in their herd by reinventing the cow foot bath, by Shawn Felling, a sophomore agricultural engineering major from Belgrade, Minnesota, and Austin Trustheim, a freshman agricultural engineering major from Braden, Minnesota.   


First place – “Radio Frequency Pacemaker,” a project to develop a fully wireless and batteryless pacemaker that can be implanted directly into the heart, by Sajid Asif, an electrical engineering graduate student from Fargo.

Second place – “T&T Innovative Solutions,” a Pack-n-Go ramp for loading recreational and utility vehicles with a unique telescoping and folding design, by Tyler Toepke-Floyd, a junior mechanical engineering major from Wishek, North Dakota, and, Tyler Donner, a senior mechanical engineering major from Clara City, Minnesota.

Third place – “Vacuum Door Interactive,” a next generation Virtual Reality experience, by Santipab Tipperach, a mechanical engineering major from Fargo; Jon Bell-Clement, a senior double-major in art and zoology from Fargo; Matthew Neururer, a senior visual art major from Fargo; Austin Hayer, a freshman music major from Shakopee, Minnesota; Prokshit Angandi, construction management graduate student from Fargo.


First place – “Single Cell Diagnosis,” by Karandish and Froberg.

Second place – “Off the Grid,” a mobile app to help people disconnect from their cellphones worry-free and shift away from a seeming cultural obligation to be constantly connected, by Mathias Hennen, a junior graphic design and marketing major from Kimball, Minnesota, and Tanner Bjorlie, junior mechanical engineering major from Fargo.

Third place – “MicroVenture Imaging,” a project to increase success in culture research through a relatively inexpensive, safe and efficient imaging system, by Iain Wallace, a junior math and computer science major from Park Rapids, Minnesota; Collin Young; Claire Wiseman.


First place – “NDSU Markerspace,” a space on NDSU’s campus that will allow students from all areas of study to meet and create together, by Theodore Young, a sophomore industrial engineering major, and Kyle Stapleton.

Second place – “Moonshot Mindset,” a partnership between NDSU and local K-12 schools to establish a mindset of innovation to improve STEM education and create competitive innovation in a global market, by Lauren Singelmann, a junior electrical engineering major from Fargo, and Jared Hansen, an electrical engineering graduate student from Minneapolis.

Third place – “Passive House Design & Build,” adapting the design and construction of houses to be more energy efficient and reduce the energy burden for North Dakota residents, by architecture graduate students, Alex Jansen of Minneapolis; Dylan Neururer of Pillager, Minnesota; Aaron Warner of Prior Lake, Minnesota; Nick Braaksma of Bozeman, Montana; Joshua Highley of St. Paul, Minnesota.

People’s Choice

“Write Your World,” a program that connects New American and local women through weekly writing groups, by Samantha Hamernick, a senior English major from Lino Lakes, Minnesota, and Ibitssem Belmihoub, a doctoral student in writing, rhetoric and culture from Algeria.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Last Updated: Monday, April 10, 2017 1:21:43 PM
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