An entire lab in the palm of your hand.
BY DEBORAH JUDE
IF GOOD THINGS come in small packages,
then the latest Triton innovation is sure
to make an impact—smaller than a
toaster and just as unassuming, this
little gray box is poised to revolutionize
lab work in public health.
The “Search” is the debut medical device
from FluxErgy, a medical diagnostics
company founded by Tej Patel ’ 10, MS ’ 12,
and Ryan Revilla ’ 10, two aerospace
engineering alumni who met while
involved in Triton Racing, a student
group that builds racecars from scratch.
The pair parlayed that experience to
working on high-end racecars after
graduation, yet both knew they wanted
to make more of a difference. Racecars
may seem a world apart from healthcare,
but they applied the same engineering
principles of improving systems and
design to solve a problem that could help
people the world over.
While Patel’s wife (alumna Priya Bhat
Patel ’ 10) was working on her master’s in
public health, he noticed a massive
inefficiency in that industry.
“Currently, there is enormous infrastructure required for laboratory testing—
many complicated steps and a number
of expensive machines needed to conduct
even just a typical set of tests,” says Patel.
“Because we came into this as engineers,
we took a very different approach, asking
ourselves, ‘Do we really need to do it
He and Revilla saw a better way to
perform medical assays—using one
device that could perform a wide variety
of tests, in the same way one video game
console can play multiple games. They
set out to build a general-purpose device
that uses programmed test cards that tell
the machine what kind of test to run.
“We spent about a year making proto-
types,” says Patel. “Most were made in
Ryan’s garage or in my kitchen.”
From those humble beginnings came a
palm-sized laboratory that can perform a
variety of optical and electrical measure-
ments according to a function-specific
test card. Adaptations to the test cards
eliminate the need for multiple machines
to conduct typical laboratory analyses.
The result is ideal for point-of-care use
and especially useful in resource-limited
settings such as Africa or India, where
test turnaround times can take upward
of 50 days and can let diseases progress
FluxErgy’s “Search” device is just
finishing its beta program, yet the team
has already hired six more Tritons to
help the company make an impact.
“UC San Diego’s rigorous curriculum and
research focus produces graduates that
are already proficient at what they do,”
says Patel. “That’s why we hire Tritons.”
A GROWING COMPAN Y
Founded by alumni, FluxErgy’s Triton ranks include
Eric Mendonsa ’15, Roy Helmsley ’ 10, Tej Patel ’ 10,
MS ’ 12; Ryan Revilla ’ 10 and Farzad Izadi Kharazi ’ 11