Kurt Y. Qing

Kurt Qing’s early life prepared him for adaptation and problem solving.  He was born in a small town in Hunan, China.  When he was still quite young, his father moved to the US, in 1998, Kurt and his mother followed, and the family reunited in Indianapolis. American life was a drastic change for Kurt, but he adjusted and merrily spent his teen years in Indiana.  In 2005, he graduated from high school and began his undergraduate education at Northwestern University.

It was during his junior year of college that Kurt and a group of classmates began a design project that has been the culmination of his undergraduate education.  His E-Team undertook a project to solve the problem of apnea (suspension of breathing) that plagues many premature newborn babies. A neonatal care method called Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), involving continuous maternal and infant skin-to-skin contact, had been showing promise as an alternative to incubator care in developing countries. However, there was no way to monitor apnea risk in these infants, and Karl Bremer Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, was searching for an effective, low-cost, KMC-compatible apnea monitor. Kurt dedicated the rest of his junior and senior years to exploring ways to create the needed device, and with critical support from his advisor, other faculty at Northwestern, and project partners in Cape Town, he led the project to success. 

The E-Team’s elegant solution is called KMC ApneAlert, and it monitors the typical abdominal movements of a premature infant while breathing. The device attaches to the baby’s abdomen with a gentle, replaceable hydrogel adhesive pad. If there is no breathing for a stretch of time, indicating an apnea episode, the device sets off an alarm. KMC ApneAlert has won multiple honors within Northwestern, from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, and from the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology.

In 2009, Kurt graduated from Northwestern with a Biomedical Engineering major and a Global Health minor.  Now in medical school in Indianapolis, he remains involved with the KMC ApneAlert project, and he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering to continue this type of work. Kurt believes engineering forms the perfect bridge between his pursuits in medicine and his passion for global health.