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So proud of my son, Theodore Andrew Lee, a sophomore student at Johns Hopkins University Biomedical Engineering Program as his medical device start up AssistENT just won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

• AssistENT team: Melissa Austin, Eric Cao, Talia Kirschbaum, Theodore Lee, and Harrison Nguyen, at Johns Hopkins University is the $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner!

College Press Releases

Students around the country recognized for revolutionary solutions to global challenges





CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 10, 2018 – Following a nationwide search for the most inventive college students, the Lemelson-MIT Program today announced the winners of the 2018 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The Program awarded a total of $80,000 in prizes to 14 undergraduate and graduate student inventors, selected from a large and highly competitive pool of applicants from across the United States. Students were selected based on a variety of factors including: the overall inventiveness of their work, the invention’s potential for commercialization or adoption, and youth mentorship experience.

The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, serving as a catalyst for young inventors in the fields of health care, transportation and mobility, food/water and agriculture, and consumer devices.

“This year’s Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners are the embodiment of the inventive spirit,” said Stephanie Couch, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. “They have not only invented solutions to real-world problems, they are also paving the way for their peers through their mentorship. We’re excited to share their accomplishments and to continue seeing them grow as Lemelson-MIT winners.”

“These students represent a new generation of inventors with big ideas on how to improve healthcare, agriculture, mobility, and scientific discovery,” said Dorothy Lemelson, board chair of The Lemelson Foundation. “They are an inspiration to their communities and we’re proud to honor their accomplishments.”

2018 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winners

The “Use it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding technology-based inventions that involve consumer devices.

• AssistENT: Melissa Austin, Eric Cao, Talia Kirschbaum, Theodore A. Lee, and Harrison Nguyen, Johns Hopkins University, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner.

The AssistENT team developed N-Stent, a comfortable and discreet nasal dilator designed to improve breathing for those who suffer from nasal obstruction. Unlike existing external nasal dilators, N-Stent is inserted into the nose, making it undetectable and comfortable for wear during the day or night.

Two teams of Hopkins undergrads among winners at MIT young inventors competition

AssistENT, Treyetech teams recognized for developing devices that address real-world problems

Team AssistENT was honored in a category for consumer devices for its comfortable and discrete nasal dilator, N-Stent. The device is designed to improve breathing for those who suffer nasal obstruction, a common problem that can cause snoring and other sleep disruptions, as well as difficulty exercising.

Team members are senior Melissa Austin, sophomore Eric Cao, junior Talia Kirschbaum, sophomore Theodore Lee, and senior Harrison Nguyen.


Medical device start-up, AssistENT, is developing a comfortable and discreet nasal dilator designed to facilitate breathing. The company was founded through a partnership between student engineers in the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design (CBID), and Dr. Patrick J. Byrne, the Dir. of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins.

  • AssistENT: One in four people struggle with nasal breathing, indicating a narrowing or collapse of the nasal valve. These people experience daily discomfort, snore and struggle to exercise. This intranasal dilator facilitates nasal breathing discreetly and comfortably during the day and night.

Last year, AssistENT was one of the top 5 finalists in the 2017 Big Bang! Business Competition at UC Davis.