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2020 Galvanizing Engineering in Medicine (GEM) Awards

​UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) announces the selection of two physician-engineer teams as the 2020 recipients of the Galvanizing Engineering in Medicine (GEM) awards. GEM, an initiative of ACTRI and UC San Diego Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM), supports projects that identify clinical challenges for which engineering solutions can be developed and implemented to improve health care. It is a collaboration between ACTRI and the Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM). Leading this initiative are Gary S. Firestein, MD; Andrew McColloch, PhD; Shu Chien, MD, PhD; and Deborah Spector, PhD. The GEM recipients and their projects are below.

Jennifer Graves, MD, PhD, MAS
 Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Neuroscience
 Tzyy-Ping Jung, PhD
            Associate Director, Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience, Institute for Neural Computation
Masaki Nakanishi, PhD
Assistant Project Scientist, Institute for Neural Computation

Title: MSight: Joint development of a mobile, head-mounted EEG/EOG brain computer interface to concurrently capture afferent and efferent visual dysfunction in people with MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a leading cause of neurological disability.  An autoimmune disorder, MS strongly impacts the afferent and efferent visual pathways. Measuring the afferent and efferent functions can aid diagnosis, estimate treatment responses, and follow the course of neurodegeneration/disability accumulation. However, the equipment and analytical capacity to make these measurements are typically only found in specialty tertiary care facilities, and even then, few centers can accurately quantify both afferent and efferent dysfunction. This collaborative study between a clinical team led by Dr. Jennifer Graves and an engineering team led by Dr. Tzyy-Ping Jung will address these gaps with the development of an integrated wearable device that can assess high-resolution afferent function with integrated electroencephalogram and eye-tracking measurements in the MS population. Successful completion of this study will support multi-site investigations of this platform for use in clinical and trial settings.  The dissemination of the wearable device will advance the field by i) expediting diagnosis and treatment, ii) enhancing the care of MS patients outside tertiary referral centers, and iii) facilitating more rapid development of remyelinating and neuroprotective agents that can be screened cost-effectively with quantitative, multi-domain visual outcome measures in any setting (clinical, research, or home).

                        Edward Jay Wang            Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering / Design Lab                                                  

Alison A. Moore               Professor, Division of Geriatrics & Gerontology, Department of Medicine

Tala al-Rousan              Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health, Department of Medicine

Title: A 3D Printed Clip that Converts Average Smartphones into Blood Pressure Monitors with No Additional Electronics
The proposed work aims to decrease the barrier to regular blood pressure monitoring through enabling the use of common, everyday smartphones to measure a person’s blood pressure both through cost and convenience. The solution involves a low-cost plastic attachment to a smartphone that can convert any smartphone with a camera and touchscreen into a BP monitor without any additional electronics. We leverage a similar scientific premise as oscillometry performed at the brachial artery, but instead measured at the finger. By measuring blood pressure at the finger in this way, we don’t need to use an uncomfortable cuff, a major issue in compliance due to discomfort for an older adult. Prior scientific studies demonstrated that BP measured using oscillometry at the finger can be accurate within 10mmHg of BP measured at the upper arm. 
In our work, we aim to replicate this measurement at the finger, but using sensors commonly found in average smartphones, namely a front facing camera and a touch screen. To perform oscillometry, it is necessary to measure the change in blood pulse volume and the pressure being applied to the artery. A core challenge of the work is to measure the pressure applied to the finger without specialized sensors. The insight that enables our innovation is the use of 3D printing technology. By creating a clip that goes over the phone with a 3D printed material against the screen, as the finger presses harder to apply higher pressure on the artery, we utilize the phone’s screen to measure the pressure applied. Subsequently, we can then measure blood volume at the finger using the smartphone camera to measure the blood flow dynamics at different pressure levels.