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  • Writer's pictureGuannan Gong

A student-led startup that uses AI to match patients with clinical trials is the 2020 winner

A student-led startup that uses artificial intelligence to match patients with clinical trials of experimental drugs is the 2020 winner of the $15,000 Rothberg Catalyzer Prize at Yale.

The winning venture, Ctrl Trial, aims to speed the patient screening process for recruitment in clinical trials through “automated scanning of clinical trial protocols, patient electronic medical records, and genomics and real-world data.” 

The Rothberg Prize, now in its third year, is given to the best student-led venture or project that develops an innovative hardware and/or AI solution to a medical challenge.

It is funded by renowned genomics pioneer and bioscience entrepreneur Jonthan Rothberg. The Yale alumnus and Guilford resident leads the 4Catalyzer bioscience incubator in Guilford and is best known for inventing next-generation high-speed DNA sequencing.

Led by Yale graduate students Guannan Gong, Weiyu Wang and Feimei Lu, Ctrl Trial bested four other student-led teams in a virtual pitch-off event held last Thursday.

The prize was one of four awarded through the annual Startup Yale entrepreneurial award contest. Because of the coronavirus shutdown, Gong and leaders of the other teams gave their pitches from home via Zoom.  

Thermaband, a startup that has developed wearable technology to help regulate body temperature, took the audience choice award. Participants in the Zoom conference cast their votes online.

Other contenders were KovaDx, which invented a diagnostic device to rapidly and affordably detect blood disorders, and DM Health, a searchable SaaS platform that helps patients find health-care providers, share health records, maintain treatment plans and compare prices.

The prize is managed by the Yale Center for Biomedical Innovation and Technology and the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking.

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