The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues

U Students Design Phone App to Diagnose Illnesses

(Photo Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)


(Photo Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)
(Photo Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)

Got a cold? There’s an app for that.


Two U students have created a medical device that works from your iPhone to test for viruses, such as the flu. Andrew Pagels, a senior in biomedical engineering, and Christopher Pagels, a BS/MS student in biomedical engineering, are brothers and business partners of Descue Medical who created the app.

“We started to notice that all of the technology and devices in the hospital are super awesome and save lives … but they are very expensive, and they’re stuck in the hospital,” Andrew Pagels said. “So we had a very basic idea that maybe there is a way to get these into people’s hands outside of the hospital, where they are needed at the point of care.”

After Christopher Pagels went on a medical mission to Mongolia, he saw a need for accessible medical devices. He was shocked to watch people traveling for a whole day just to see a doctor.

“Being in China and Mongolia really elucidated to me the need for simple and affordable solutions,” he said.

Currently, iTest — the app’s name — can check for strep throat and the flu by a series of questions and simple medical tests, but the Pagels brothers are looking to create tests for more than 20 other diseases. STDs are their next target, and Christopher Pagels wants to develop dengue fever and malaria tests to take the product overseas. Their ultimate goal is to reach underprivileged communities, but for now the two are looking to get the app to primary care physicians and families.

Scott Marland, director of BioInnovations Gateway, sees the benefit as a father because the iTest can help parents know why their child is sick without visiting a pediatrician. Marland has worked in the medical device industry for several years and is excited to see the product change the world of diagnostics.

“I don’t know of anything else like it,” he said. “They’re really innovative guys figuring out how to change the way things are done.”

The device was created to be simple enough for the average person to use. It connects to your iPhone and takes samples by swabbing your nose or cheek or taking a droplet of blood. The cost for the device has not yet been determined.

The Pagels brothers began working on the app in 2012 and are hoping to get the product on the market in about 18 months.

“It has slowly developed and about 20 prototype versions later, here we are,” Andrew Pagels said.

They have had several successes and setbacks, but the overall goal is what keeps them going.

“I think the driver for me is that I’m actually really interested in the problem that we are solving,” Andrew Pagels said. “It’s not necessarily so much about what cool gadget can we make, but if we pull this off, people’s lives will actually be better.”

[email protected]


Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

We welcome feedback and dialogue from our community. However, when necessary, The Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to remove user comments. Posts may be removed for any of the following reasons: • Comments on a post that do not relate to the subject matter of the story • The use of obscene, threatening, defamatory, or harassing language • Comments advocating illegal activity • Posts violating copyrights or trademarks • Advertisement or promotion of commercial products, services, entities, or individuals • Duplicative comments by the same user. In the case of identical comments only the first submission will be posted. Users who habitually post comments or content that must be removed can be blocked from the comment section.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *