Seniors create a new profitable and dynamic pipette for biotech researchers


After pursuing a research internship over the summer at the Bivona biotech Lab at UCSF, senior Saurav Shroff wanted to find a way to make science more efficient by creating an automated pipette with the help of his friend and fellow senior David Tarazi.

A pipette is a lab tool commonly used in science, biology and chemistry. However it is not the original plastic tube, but a gun-shaped automated tool that increases productivity as well as provides a safer lab instrument.

“Our main goal was to make an automated and efficient pipette that makes life easier for biotech researchers,” Shroff said. “Theoretically, the faster the pipette is the faster you can find a cure you are looking for, right?”

Tarazi and Shroff improved the old pipette by making a more streamlined mechanism that takes samples digitally. The pipette internally memorizes the liquid level by measuring the distance from the top to the liquid; making it easier to take hundreds of samples in a much smaller amount of time.

After months of research and the help of teachers and resources at BHS, Tarazi and Shroff created the pipette model using innovative materials like the MM wave radar sensor, CAD (computer-aided design) and PCB (printed circuit board) design.

“The MM wave radar sensor is a small high precision proximity sensor made by Texas Instruments which is the same company as your everyday graphing calculator,” Tarazi said. “I’m part of robotics so I have access to the 3D CAD modeling which is what we used to create the entire casing of the pipette. [Ian Hovander] we have in robotics taught us about PCB design and how to use basic softwares.”

In terms of profit, Shroff and Tarazi discussed the possibility of selling to the biotech research lab at UCSF.

“I presented the pipette model to Trever Bivona, the head of the research lab, who said that he would buy 200 pipettes if it was successful,” Shroff said. “Which would be a profit of about $40,0000.”

“Branding is really important,” Tarazi said. “We want to sell it for a low margin and a low price so we can expose ourselves to newer labs and new buyers. Establishing brand reliability and having initial customers is our priority.”

After working at UCSF and noticing the problem of efficiency in the lab, Shroff took on the issue with a goal of making life for researchers much easier.

“Ultimately,” Shroff said, “the pipette was created to reduce error; science consistency is more important than accuracy.”

Posted on December 19, 2017 .