Friday, January 28, 2022
Christopher Cooper

Christopher Cooper, professor of urology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, was awarded the Pediatric Urology Device Prize from the Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium for a home-based pediatric cystomanometer. The device allows for more accessible and frequent bladder pressure monitoring at home.

“Many children and adults born with spinal cord problems have abnormal bladder function that may result in high pressures that silently destroy their kidneys and also cause further damage to their bladder,” said Cooper. “These patients require passing a catheter into their bladder multiple times a day to drain out the urine.”

Physicians typically monitor these patients’ bladder function and pressure once a year, or every other year, with a complex and expensive procedure done in the hospital called a ‘urodynamic study’. “Unfortunately, some patients sustain permanent damage to their kidneys or bladder from high bladder pressures that developed before they come back for these visits,” said Cooper. “By routinely checking their own bladder pressure at home with this device, it is hoped that harmful bladder pressures could be detected earlier and treated to prevent this damage.”

The device attaches to any catheter and transmits real-time data to a smartphone app. The data can then be sent from the smartphone directly to a secure hospital server and their attending physician.

This technology permits patients to monitor their own health at home, and the frequent, real-time measurements allow health care providers to more accurately monitor and assess patient health. “This leads to increased quality of care and patient outcomes, including reduced hospital visits,” said Cooper.

smartphone app for cystomanometer

He worked with the University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) on a series of invention disclosures that culminated in the UIRF filing patent applications on his invention in 2016 and receiving a patent in 2019.

“Dr. Cooper exemplifies the innovative spirit of the physician/researchers here at the University of Iowa,” said Marie Kerbeshian, executive director of the UIRF. “He recognized the challenges that his patients and their parents face during treatment, he came up with an idea to overcome these challenges, he worked with colleagues and students at the university to invent a solution, and he reached out to the Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium for further suggestions and advice.”

Cooper’s collaborators and co-inventors represent the collaborative nature of his research, including physicians, graduate students, and project engineers from the Department of Urology and the UI College of Engineering and Business. His co-inventors on the device are Ryan Steinberg and Lewis Thomas from Urology, and Sanam Zarei, Eric Pahl, Kayla Jones, and Clifford Curry.

He is currently working with the University of Iowa's medical device and consumer product prototyping facility, ProtoStudios, on a redesign of the device to improve its durability. The UIRF is working closely with Cooper to identify a commercial partner that can bring his invention to the market.

The Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium, which awarded the prize, is a multi-institutional consortium that is supported by a FDA Pediatric Device Consortia grant, anchored by Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, and includes Texas A&M University, Rice University, University of Houston, and Fannin Innovation Studio. The consortium is dedicated to improving children’s health by supporting pediatric device innovators to create novel pediatric medical devices with local, regional, and national institutional and innovation partners.


The University of Iowa Research Foundation is part of the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research, which provides researchers and scholars with resources, guidance, and inspiration to secure funding, collaborate, innovate, and forge frontiers of discovery that benefit everyone. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.