Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) physician researchers have been selected as Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) winners, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Karen Buch, MD, a third year radiology resident at BMC, and Ducksoo Kim, MD, professor of radiology at BUSM and director of the vascular and interventional radiology fellowship at BMC, will use nanotechnology to develop a next-generation condom to prevent breakage and improve efficiency in order broaden its appeal and increase usage.
Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) provides funding worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in solving persistent global health challenges. This project is one of more than 80 funded through Round 11 of the GCE. Winners demonstrated a bold idea critical global heath and development topic areas, which included the development of the next generation condom.
According to the Grand Challenges in Global Health website, condoms have been used for approximately 400 years and are an effective method of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections and preventing pregnancy. However, the widely-held stigma about condoms is that they decrease sensation and pleasure during intercourse. In order to increase their usage, BUSM/BMC researchers will investigate ways to create an innovative condom that would debunk the stigma by increasing sensation.
With this grant, Buch and Kim will develop a nanoparticle coating for condoms that will make them more comfortable and stronger while simultaneously keeping them thin to preserve – and increase – sensation in order to make them more appealing to use.
“We are honored to be a recipient of a GCE grant project in order to examine this important public health issue,” said Buch and Kim. “We look forward to using nanotechnology to create a condom that is both effective and does not diminish sensation, which could help convince more people to use condoms and potentially reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infections.”
Buch graduated from Tufts University in 2004 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a second major in Biomedical Engineering and received her medical degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2010. Buch, who is pursuing a career in neuroradiology, has research interests including microfabricated electromechanical systems (MEMS), microfabrication of biomaterials and traumatic brain injuries.
Kim also is chief of vascular and interventional radiology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. He received his medical degree from Catholic University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea and completed a residency in diagnostic radiology at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in 1981. He continued his NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship training in cardiovascular and interventional radiology at Stanford University Medical Center (1981-1983).
After his fellowship training, he served as an academic cardiovascular and interventional radiologist at various academic medical centers: Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (1983-1998) as associate professor of radiology and chief of cardiovascular and interventional radiology followed by UMass Medical School (1999-2006) as professor of radiology and surgery and chief of cardiovascular and interventional radiology and Boston University School of Medicine (2006-Present). He also is the former chief of cardiovascular and interventional radiology at BMC (2006-2011).
Kim has been acknowledged for his passion in educating and training medical students and young physicians. He has developed and patented many innovative medical devices for various minimally invasive medical procedures and has published and presented more than 200 scientific papers and edited textbooks (Peripheral Vascular Imaging and Intervention, 1992 and Vascular Imaging and Endovascular Intervention, 2014). Kim also is a Diplomat of the American Board of Radiology and a Fellow of the Society of Interventional Radiology.