PCOM Georgia medical student Varun Yarabarla (DO ’21) serves as the development lead
for VentLife by researching markets and submitting grant proposals.
Fellowship recipient and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine student Varun Yarabarla (DO ’21) has joined with 11 other engineers, physicians and
innovators from across the country to develop a low-cost, novel ventilator for use
during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The team members, who organized the nonprofit organization known as VentLife, plan
to offer this technology to help save lives especially in settings with limited resources
like developing nations, and for military field and national stockpile use during
Yarabarla studied Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta prior to attending
medical school. A former Fulbright Research Scholar, he was recently invited to participate
in the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) Medical Student Anesthesiology
This two month opportunity will be completed at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle,
Washington, in conjunction with the University of Washington School of Medicine. Yarabarla
said, “I was awarded my number one choice for this competitive fellowship from an
applicant pool of more than 300 medical students from across the country.” His fellowship
research topic will involve the study of childhood traumatic brain injuries.
Yarabarla is currently serving as the development lead for VentLife. He was introduced
to the VentLife team through a cardiologist whom he met during third-year clinical
rotations in Jacksonville, Florida. He was also connected to one of the VentLife founders
through the Fulbright Alumni Network.
His “well-rounded skills in engineering, entrepreneurship and medicine” earned him
an invite to participate in the project, he said. “Having diverse knowledge really
helped me give input across the board from product design to marketing and fundraising.”
As the development lead, Yarabarla researches where the product will best fit into
the global marketplace, submits grant proposals for funding, and leads the team to
participate in hackathons specifically developed for COVID-19. Hackathons are competitive
events in which people work in groups on software or hardware projects with the goal
of creating a functioning product.
Two weeks ago, the team won third place in Hack for Hope, an opportunity to address
challenges created by COVID-19, earning $2,500. They participated in another hackathon
last weekend called EUvsVirus, a pan-European hackathon which worked to connect innovators,
partners and investors across Europe in order to develop solutions for coronavirus-related
challenges. In addition, the VentLife team has been accepted into the University of
Cincinnati Office of Innovation Venture Lab Pre-Accelerator Program.
Yarabarla noted that COVID-19 has reshaped how people think about health care. Just
a short time ago, there was limited knowledge about national stockpiles of items like
ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These are “no longer abstract
concepts, but tangible necessities with impacts that can reverberate in our personal
lives, impacting ourselves and those we love,” according to the VentLife website.
Low cost ventilators will also keep clinicians from triaging care. “We aim to provide
lifesaving equipment to clinicians so they never need to make such choices again and
so they can properly perform their jobs,” according to Yarabarla.
As the team continues work to secure funding, a functional prototype has been developed
and manufacturing partners have been secured. In addition, VentLife has engaged with
the US Food and Drug Administration and is proceeding with clinical and bench studies.
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated
to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM
Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service
to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center,
an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment.
For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.
For more information, contact: Barbara Myers Senior Public Relations Manager Email: BarbaraMy@pcom.edu Office: 678-225-7532 | Cell: