MEDx Announces 2020 Pilot Project Awardess

9/24/20 Pratt School of Engineering

Mark Palmeri, Ken Gall and Warren Grill received grants to pursue collaborative projects

MEDx Announces 2020 Pilot Project Awardess

MEDx (Medicine + Engineering at Duke) recently announced their 2020 Pilot project awardees. MEDx offers an annual call for proposals to fund early-stage research for forming new collaborations or expanding existing collaborations between faculty members in the Schools of Medicine and Engineering.

To be considered for this year’s Pilot Projects grant, projects had to benefit human health by providing important disease insights or developing technologies to aid in disease prevention, diagnosis or treatment. MEDx received 36 applications covering a wide range of topics and spanning all Pratt School of Engineering departments and a large number of departments and divisions from the School of Medicine.

MEDx ultimately awarded the grants to five projects, including: 

mHealth Tympanometer: A Digital Innovation to Address Childhood Hearing Loss in Low Resource Settings
Susan Emmett, M.D.| Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences
Mark Palmeri, M.D., Ph.D. | Biomedical Engineering (BME)

Childhood hearing loss has lifelong implications for speech and language development, school achievement and future employment opportunities. Over 80% of affected individuals reside in low- and middle-income countries or underserved populations in high income countries, causing major barriers for hearing care. This team will develop a novel mHealth tympanometer with a machine learning interface to transform this technology from a device limited to use in only high resource environments into a low-cost screening tool that could be broadly disseminated in low resource settings.

Computational Localization of the Epileptic Focus for Resection Surgery
Saurabh Sinha, M.D., Ph.D. | Neurology
Warren Grill, Ph.D. | Biomedical Engineering (BME)

Approximately 1 million Americans with epilepsy do not benefit adequately from medications. Surgical removal of the brain tissues where seizures originate – the epileptogenic zone (EZ) – can completely eliminate seizures but is entirely dependent on accurate identification of the EZ. This team will develop and evaluate clinically-useful software tools to improve EZ localization and hopefully improve seizure freedom rates following resection surgery. 

The AirFLO2 Device for Treatment of Hypoxemia and/or Tachypnea in COVID-19 Patients
Loretta Que, M.D. | Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine
Ken Gall, Ph.D. | Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science
FastTrack Medical Device Translator | Duke Engineering Entrepreneurship and NeuroInnovations

There is a growing concern regarding healthcare capacity for managing severely ill COVID-19 patients with hypoxemia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, and a gap in non-invasive treatment options for respiratory management in these patients. In response, this team will develop AirFLO2, a self-administered, non-invasive positive end expiratory pressure treatment to improve oxygenation in patients with hypoxemia. This device will prove a safe and standardized method to treat hypoxemia. It will also reduce the urgency and overall need for invasive ventilation, ICU transfers and/or decrease the length of hospital stay.