Sanna Gaspard’s contribution to the advancement of medical technology is remarkably singular and specifically focused.

As it is with many medical devices though, the impact of her work has global implications for standardized health care and improved patient outcomes.

This duality has helped the biomedical engineering (BME) alumna earn her place in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and The Lemelson Foundation’s 2017-2018 Class of Invention Ambassadors.

“Meeting the network of other ambassadors and the Lemelson network helped me to understand that as an ambassador, I am part of a larger community focused on a national and international mission to support inventors,” Gaspard previously told the magazine Science.

Started in 2013, the AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors Program aims to bring together inventors and innovators who are “empowered to discuss the importance of invention in bettering our quality of life and building strong economies,” according to the program’s website.

Invention Ambassadors are inventors who have demonstrated a reverence for invention, have accomplished professional careers, and have a track record of inventive innovation.

As an ambassador, I am part of a larger community focused on a national and international mission to support inventors.

Dr. Sanna Gaspard, Biomedical Engineering alumna & Founder and CEO, Rubitection, Inc.

Gaspard is the founder and CEO of Rubitection, Inc., a medical technology company working to advance early-stage bedsore detection and management for improved patient care. 

On average, 2.5 million people suffer from bedsores annually, 60,000 of whom die as a result of complications. Short of death, there are also risks of infection, sepsis, or amputation. Rubitection’s technology, the Rubitect Assessment System (RAS), combats these issues. 

“The RAS can easily be used with minimal training, allowing it to improve care and save lives in a homecare setting, a clinic, a nursing home, or hospital, globally,” Gaspard said. “It also has the potential to save healthcare facilities thousands of dollars a year.”

Prior to enrolling at Carnegie Mellon, Gaspard invented a therapy device to aid in improving the survival rate of premature babies. She began to research the bedsore problem in 2006, research she continued through 2011 when she earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.

In that time, she invented and developed the Rubitect Assessment System. The system is comprised of a probe and assessment software. The probe is placed on the skin to detect changes in the skin’s health. Results from the probe are sent to the software, which lets healthcare professionals determine the presence of early stage bedsores.

In July, Gaspard and the rest of this year’s Invention Ambassadors kicked off their 12-month ambassadorships with an orientation event held in Washington D.C.

In addition to having the chance to speak with members of Congress and other policymakers, the ambassadors also took part in a “Celebrate Invention Event.” At the event, each ambassador gave a brief talk about their work as an inventor and the impact their inventions have had on issues of global concern.

Throughout the course of her ambassadorship, Gaspard will involve herself in advocacy opportunities as well as two public engagement activities. She will also participate in an “end-of-the-program symposium” to engage policymakers and industry leaders in an ongoing conversation about the importance of invention and creation.

“The goal of the Ambassadors…is to help serve as an advocate at the government level, at the university level, and across many disciplines, to help promote inventorship as a career path and as a path to…economic mobility,” Gaspard said.

Photo provided by AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors Program