HSI Seed Grant Recipients Receive Federal Grants to Continue Work

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The Health Systems Institute (HSI) is pleased to announce that two seed grant recipients have recently received federal grants to continue their work. The initial funding for these research efforts was provided via the HSI Seed Grant program, an initiative to support collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects that are designed to help stimulate innovative healthcare research and promote improvements in healthcare.

Received a grant from the Research to Aid People with Disabilities (RAPD) program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Collaborative Research: Assistive Object Manipulation via RFID Guided Robots

Abstract: For millions of people, motor impairments diminish quality of life, reduce independence, and increase healthcare costs. Assistive mobile robots that manipulate objects within everyday settings have the potential to improve quality of life by augmenting people's abilities with a cooperative robot. In spite of this promising opportunity, autonomous mobile robots are not yet robust enough for daily operation in real homes. The proposed research directly addresses the challenges of achieving this competence through novel, innovative research that combines RFID-based sensing with autonomous mobile manipulation. Key insights of the proposed work are that the current range of ultra-high frequency passive RFID 'smart labels' makes it feasible for robots to read them from across a room and that their low cost (sub-$0.25) means they can be ubiquitously attached to important objects throughout the home. The unambiguous digital signals available from tagged objects could be profoundly enabling for an assistive robot in three ways which this research will investigate and exploit: (1) scanning a room to provide reliable unique identification of important tagged objects so the robot can provide the user with a menu of available objects and be informed about the objects (e.g., their appearance and appropriate manipulative actions) (2) long-range localization of a tagged object based on its signal characteristics so the robot can approach the object and (3) short-range localization and identification through novel finger-mounted antennas to help the robot manipulate the object, including grasping it and confirming that it has been grasped. We will research these transformative capabilities for assistive robots in the context of object retrieval. Our studies with physically-impaired patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) from the Emory ALS Center clearly demonstrate that object retrieval via an autonomous mobile robot would be a valued assistive technology, and these capabilities could serve as a foundation upon which other assistive services could be built. We will evaluate the RFID guided robot that results from this research with ALS patients. The robot will include a novel menu-driven user interface that will enable a physically-impaired user to easily select an object and an appropriate delivery method. After this selection, the robot will find, approach, grasp, and deliver the requested object.

Investigators: Charles Kemp (GT, Robotics) and Matt Reynolds (GT, Computing)

2007-2008 HSI Seed Grant: Robust People Following via RFID for Assistive Mobile Robots

Dr. Melissa Kemp has been honored with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's "New Innovator" award.

Redox Regulation of Cellular Information Processing

Abstract: Elevated concentrations of extracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) are hallmarks of inflammation, and decades of medical research have focused on suppression of these molecules to treat pathologies as diverse as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and atherosclerosis with mixed results. More recently, researchers have discovered that these same molecules are produced during the course of normal signal transduction. In order to effectively treat inflammation, we must understand these distinct roles for reactive oxygen species. I propose an innovative research program that will elucidate the role of hydrogen peroxide, a key ROS, in normal cell signaling through computational models and laboratory experiments. This research will lead to a new, quantitative understanding of ROS and facilitate the development of effective antioxidant treatments for inflammation. This project will use three complementary approaches to evaluate the complex regulatory role of hydrogen peroxide on receptor-induced signaling. First, we will develop computational network models describing redox regulation of proteins in a time-dependent manner. Secondly, we are designing new methods to detect oxidative changes on multiple proteins simultaneously. These assays will allow investigation of the relationships between phosphorylation of signal transduction molecules and reversible thiol modifications. Finally, we have created a series of cell lines in which key components of the redox network have been perturbed that demonstrate augmentation and attenuation of receptor signaling. These lines will be used to systematically investigate the efficiency of three receptor networks-a pro-inflammatory cue (TNF-α), anti-inflammatory cue (TGF-β), and antigenic response (TCR)-under different oxidative environments. The results of these studies will provide the first computational modeling platform capable of interpreting incongruous literature reports of oxidative effects on cellular information processing. This project leverages my unique experience at the interface of immunology, systems biology, and metabolism to address a fundamental mechanism of cellular regulation critical for a large class of therapeutic drugs.

Investigator: Melissa Kemp (GT/Emory, Biomedical Engineering)

2007-2008 HSI Seed Grant: Evaluation and Modeling of Redox Regulation of NF-kappaB in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia cells: Role in Drug Resistance

About the Health Systems Institute
The Health Systems Institute's mission is to develop and implement novel multidisciplinary and collaborative research, education, and outreach programs to transform healthcare delivery systems from an ineffective, reactive, disease-focused system to one that is cost-effective, proactive, and focused on health and wellness. We leverage engineering and computing innovation towards the Four Cornerstones of Value-driven Healthcare, by: 1) supporting interoperable health information systems and products; 2) supporting the knowledge and comparison of the quality of care delivered; 3) promoting the availability of cost and price information together with quality information; and 4) encouraging and facilitating high-quality and cost effective healthcare.


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