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Director’s Message, Winter 2015

Dr. Firestein

I’m delighted to announce that CTRI has been selected as the official Testing Site for the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. This global competition is sponsored by the Qualcomm Foundation for teams to develop a consumer-friendly, mobile device capable of diagnosing and interpreting a set of 15 conditions and capturing vital health metrics. Inspired by the medical Tricorder in Star Trek, the XPRIZE aims to bring science fiction to science reality. The XPRIZE mission is to bring about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity,” which dovetails nicely with CTRI goals.

The project reflects our vision for a healthier future and is emblematic of our focus on “disruptive innovation.” We look forward to joining the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE in the quest to discover and develop new technology that can move quickly into our community.

CTRI is creating a new device testing unit for the competition, and will serve as the physical location of the test program and provide logistical and personnel management. Specifically, CTRI will be responsible for recruiting volunteers to serve as consumer testers, gaining their consent and instructing them in the use of the devices, overseeing the device testing, and conducting follow-up surveys. There will be up to 480 consumer testers. They are volunteers who will test the tricorders and provide feedback via surveys.

The CTRI testing site team will include physician monitors, clinical coordinators, a database programmer, and technical advisors. The physician oversight team is led by Gene “Rusty” Kallenberg, MD, Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, UC San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Kallenberg has done a remarkable job organizing the clinical team and will direct testing and medically monitor emergencies, field medical questions and handle issues requiring medical opinion or interventions during testing.

Clinical coordinators, who are trained in handling clinical trial operations, will manage the XPRIZE testing experiences of the consumer testers. The database programmer will program and produce reports to identify potential consumer testers by location and/or department or disease condition.

The team will also include staff and faculty from the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego, who will provide technical support for the testing. The Qualcomm Institute’s role will be to capture relevant data from the multiple actors involved in the test scenario (the tricorder, the consumer tester, the XPRIZE on-site technician and the on-site test monitoring tools), migrate that data to a central repository, and subsequently perform review, analysis and scoring based upon captured metrics.

The testing will take place at CTRI’s Center for Clinical Research, UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, as well as at UC San Diego primary care clinics and some specialty clinics.

The development of the required IT infrastructure, space, equipment, and wireless communication is already in progress. The official start of the test program begins early this summer. The winning team is anticipated to be announced during the first quarter of 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek TV series. The grand prize is $7M, second place is $2M and third is $1M.

2015 promises to be a very exciting year for CTRI, and the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is one of the many projects we are thrilled to support in the coming months.

Happy New Year!

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