Black Teen Invents Cost Effective Method to Detect Surgical Infections

by April 19, 2021

Daisa Taylor, a high school senior from Iowa, recently won $25,000 at the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search for her invention of cost-effective surgical sutures that change color to detect if a patient’s wound is infected.

The 17-year old teen came up with the idea in 2019 when she learned about sutures coated with a material that can indicate the status of the wound. However, that technology can be pricey and she felt that those who actually need it wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Taylor thought of a more cost-effective method. She used beets to dye suture threads. The color of the dyed thread would turn from red to dark purple if the surgical wound were infected, as the pH level of the skin changed from five up to a nine.

Taylor said she became particularly interested in surgical infections after finding out that those mostly occur after Cesarean sections in underserved communities.

“So when I was presented with this opportunity to do research, I couldn’t help but go at it with an equity lens,” Taylor told The Smithsonian.

Moreover, Taylor’s invention landed her among the 40 finalists out of the over 1,760 students who joined the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science competition for high school seniors. She was also honored as the Seaborg Award winner at the event.

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