MEDx Announces 2020 Pilot Project Awardees

2020 MEDx 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.

We 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 awarded grants to five projects.

Congratulations to the awardees!

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.

Safety and Feasibility of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation to Enhance Auditory Rehabilitation in Cochlear Implant Recipients
Howard Francis, M.D. | Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences
Angel Peterchev, Ph.D. | Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Electrical & Computer Engineering

There is evidence of a strong correlation between sensorineural hearing loss in older adults and declines in general health. Hearing restoration using cochlear implants (CI) has proven crucial for improving quality of life, but there is substantial variability in the efficacy of hearing restoration interventions by CIs, leaving an unmet need for approaches that can boost patients’ speech perception performance with CIs more than current standard rehabilitation programs. This team will investigate feasibility of transcranial direct current stimulation in patients with CIs in conjunction with auditory rehabilitation and training to enhance the acquisition of new central auditory processing skills including speech perception with a novel stimulus. 

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

Resorbable, Phosphorylated Poly(ester urea) Surgical Adhesive to Enhance Fracture Healing
Joseph Fernandez-Moure, M.D. | Trauma, Acute, and Clinical Care Surgery
Matthew Becker, Ph.D. | Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Trauma remains the leading cause of death for people under the age of 45. Rib fractures are one of the most common injuries following blunt trauma, occurring in approximately 10% of all trauma patients. Outcomes for rib fracture patients remain poor and have not changed substantially over the last 15 years, despite many improvements in care. This team aims to prove that resorbable, phosphorylated poly(ester urea) surgical adhesives are the next step towards the translation of bone adhesives for non-invasive fracture stabilization.

View previous MEDx grant recipients