Research and Technology Innovator: Bayan Alturkestani

Mind Master 

As a Temple University undergraduate research assistant, Bayan Alturkestani, ENG ’19, had her “Aha!” moment while working on a concussion drug research project with Temple and University of Pennsylvania collaborators: What would be the point, she wondered, in developing drugs to immediately treat concussion victims, if the concussions cannot be immediately diagnosed? 


Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg, CLA ’14

Curiosity and passion can lead you to the best places. Try to use them wisely.”

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Bayan Alturkestani


Good question. Each year, according to the CDC, sports-related injuries in the U.S. cause more than 4 million concussions. But only 5–10% of concussed athletes are clinically diagnosed, and 69% continue playing with a concussion. Part of the problem, Alturkestani learned, is that it takes more than six hours—and sometimes up to three days—to get results from a lab-based blood test. CT scans and players’ responses about how they feel are also both unreliable, and the average diagnosis costs sometimes more than $800. 

Her solution, the Real-time Concussion Detector—which, she says, diagnoses mild traumatic brain injuries “easily, quickly and noninvasively”—could be available next year.

Positive impact   

After briefly majoring in physical therapy at a Saudi Arabian college, Alturkestani found her way to Temple University’s then-relatively new bioengineering program in 2015. A year before, her parents—high school principals in Saudi Arabia—had moved her family to Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Alturkestani wasn’t the only one in her family to find home at Temple—her brother Abdulaziz earned his Temple mechanical engineering degree in 2020; this spring, another brother, Abdullrahman, who has suffered concussions while boxing, is entering the Fox School of Business. 

As a senior, she was helping with concussion drug research in the Biomechanics Lab of Kurosh Darvish, professor and chair of mechanical engineering, when she began thinking about the need for much quicker diagnosis of the condition. “It was easy to talk to him about it, and he was very supportive,” she said. “He inspired me to start thinking about the need for developing a diagnostic device for mild traumatic brain injuries.” 

The following summer, she began working on her idea when she participated in the Temple Fox School of Business accelerator program and was awarded a Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund grant for female entrepreneurs

Then, four years ago, while earning her master of biomedical engineering degree at Cornell University, she founded Conan MedTech Corp. in Ithaca, New York. Her startup’s prototype concussion detector works similarly to some COVID-19 tests. Saliva collected with a swab is deposited in a simple detection device; via an app, results are available in less than a half hour. 

“It is challenging to be a female engineer and entrepreneur,” she said. “But we need women in STEM. I want to empower women in the future to do what I am doing.” 

Bayan at a glance

Just the facts

College: College of Engineering 
Degree: BS, bioengineering, 2019
Industry: Medical device development 
Hometown: Saudi Arabia 

Riding highs
  • Bayan loves horseback riding: “When I ride a horse it feels like I’m flying. It’s my wings.” 
  • Bayan is a fan of Philly’s chicken cheesesteaks and the chocolate desserts and drinks at Max Brenner’s in Center City. 

The heart of the matter 

In 2020, her concept won the first place award at a Washington, D.C., entrepreneurship competition sponsored by the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation. In 2021, she was selected as one of the Top 100 Healthcare Leaders at the International Forum on Advancements in Healthcare in Las Vegas.  

Pending FDA approval, she hopes to pilot her concussion detector to public school districts and youth sports organizations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York initially. Eventually, hospital emergency rooms and the U.S. military will be targeted. 

“For a very reasonable cost, in less than 30 minutes doctors or athletic trainers will know if an athlete is concussed and whether they can safely resume playing or should be kept out of the game,” said Alturkestani.  

“I’m excited about the potential to reduce the risk of repeated concussions that, over time, can lead to debilitating, often fatal brain trauma,” she said.