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Director's Message Spring 2018

Dr. Firestein

I am pleased to announce that Tricorder medical device testing will continue at UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI). Through a new initiative – the Tricorder Device Development Project – ACTRI and the Jacobs School of Engineering are creating a sustainable testing center for novel consumer and medical devices that can improve health.

Medical devices are essential components in advancing medicine and providing critical patient care. Development and testing of new devices, used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, are integral to ensuring quality of life and patient safety.

ACTRI had been the testing site for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition, which concluded last spring. We are excited to lead the new project and test second-generation Star Trek®-inspired medical devices. In the project extension, ACTRI will now provide consultation and infrastructure that supports commercialization of advanced point-of-care devices.

The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, created through a collaboration between XPRIZE and the Qualcomm Foundation, was a global competition that challenged teams to develop a consumer-focused, mobile, integrated diagnostic device inspired by the medical tricorder of Star Trek® fame, first shown to TV viewers more than 50 years ago. In the TV show, the fictional hand-held device was used to collect vital signs and diagnose diseases. In the XPRIZE competition, the winning devices diagnosed and interpreted a defined set of 13 health conditions to various degrees while continuously monitoring five vital health metrics, such as blood pressure and heart rate.

The top Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competitors were invited to participate and collaborate in the project. Five of these teams are planning to join project leaders in San Diego at the ACTRI Building on June 4 to kick off the testing. Over the next two years, the devices will be tested at the ACTRI clinic and in the field. The project will focus on several aspects of device development, including:

  • Assessing intellectual property and commercialization plans of each team
  • Assisting with pre-testing regulatory and operational activities required for clinical testing
  • Testing devices in clinical settings to evaluate overall clinical performance and patient experience with the devices
  • Transferring, storing and analyzing data derived from devices
  • Field testing devices to improve adaptability and global scaling

ACTRI will be the primary clinical evaluation center for consumer training and testing sessions. Clinical testing will take place at the ACTRI Clinic, with 18,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities and a full staff to support all phases of clinical research. ACTRI will also provide expert consultation on clinically relevant topics, including diagnostic algorithms, medical needs and complementary technologies. The clinical team will identify research participants and confirm health conditions, and coordinate any off-site testing. The commercialization consultation and data storage and analytic infrastructure will be provided by the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego. 

I look forward to co-leading the project with Ramesh Rao, PhD, director of UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute. Gene Kallenberg, MD, professor of family medicine and public health, will lead the clinical team, and Dennis Abremski, executive director of the Institute for the Global Entrepreneur at UC San Diego, is the commercialization lead.

Stay tuned, as we help Tricorders boldly go where no Tricorder has gone before.

Gary S. Firestein, MD, Director of ACTRI
Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine
Phone: (858) 822-3824