Biomedical Engineering: Transforming the Frontiers of Healthcare

Biomedical Engineering: Transforming the Frontiers of Healthcare

Show Video

Good evening everyone, and welcome to Science Cafe. It is a delight to be with you all. My name is Jenny King. The public affairs team here at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas is proud to produce and host the UT Southwestern Science Cafe Series, along with my co-host, Jovelyn Castellanos and Rachel Butch, as well as tonight's speakers and our many colleagues, we thank you for joining us.

Our special program this evening features UT Southwestern and our friends at UT Arlington and UT Dallas. Welcome to our UT System colleagues. Science Cafes or online conversations where speakers take you on deep dives into the science behind healthcare. As an academic medical center, UT Southwestern brings together research, health, education, and patient care into one institution. Tonight's Science Cafe topic of biomedical engineering, which is a program our three institutions are working on both separately and together, is forward looking for health and wellness. This field is helping transform healthcare with translational research, new treatments for patients and cross-sector collaborative innovation.

Before we start, excuse me, before we start with our conversation, I have a few housekeeping items to share. We are recording Science Cafe as well as live streaming it on the UT Southwestern Twitter page. Please mute your microphones as we are connecting digitally through Zoom.

Consider leaving your camera on so we can see each other, especially during q and a. And finally, while we cannot, cannot answer personal medical questions, we welcome your general questions about tonight's topic throughout the next hour. Please list your questions in the chat and Rachel will address them after our initial conversation with our guest speakers.

And now I am pleased to turn over the virtual program to my colleague Rachel Butch, who serves as marketing and communications manager for research here at UT Southwestern. She will be moderating tonight's program. Thank you, Rachel. It's all yours. Thank you, Jenny. Hi everyone. I'm so excited to be here with all of you to learn a little bit more about the wonderful biomedical engineering work we're doing in North Texas. I am so pleased to be joined tonight by Samuel Achilefu, the chair and professor of biomedical engineering at UT Southwestern. Shalini

Prasad, chair and professor of bioengineering at UT Dallas. And Hanli Liu, professor of bioengineering at UT Arlington, and an adjunct professor at UT Southwestern. Thank you all for joining us. So I wanna start us off all at the top and I wanna hear from each of our speakers about what, Jovelyn, you or Rachel, you went on mute. Sorry about that everyone. What did you hear from me? Just about half your sentence. So if you wanna, What we wanna start it off with. Oh, wonderful. Okay.

So I wanna hear from each of our speakers to start us off about what is biomedical engineering, kind of in your own words, what is the field? So if you don't mind, Dr. Achilefu, will you start us off? Wonderful. Thank you so much for the opportunity to join you all this evening. Um, biomedical engineering really could simply be defined as supplying engineering principles, design concepts and methods to addressing challenges in medicine and biology as a goal.

So that's a very broad definition of biomedical engineering. And you were, you are going to hear a lot about bioengineering or biomedical engineering. Um, bioengineering covers a wider scope of, uh, bioengineering of, um, this area because it includes medical, it includes, um, agricultural applications, natural events, all encompassing onto bioengineering. And at institutions like ours, ours is biomedical engineering, which limits what we do to medical applications of engineering principles.

Thank you. Dr. Prasad, what is biomedical engineering in your words? Thank you. And, uh, following off on Dr. Achilefu's, uh, buildup. Right. So yes, we are a bioengineering department at the University of Texas at Dallas. And here we think about one health that is the integration of health and wellbeing, not just of human beings, but also the environment.

So bringing together this bridge across truly building out the one health and also thinking of the transformational impact that we can have on human health through partnerships, which are not just pure engineering, but integrate applied sciences and connect to the medical sciences in clinical science. So truly training the physician engineers and clinical scientists. So that is bioengineering. Thank you. And Dr. Liu, what is biomedical engineering or bioengineering in your words? Okay. Yeah. Could you go to the next page since I'm a very visual person, I thought, or the, the one after this one, one more page. I mean forward there.

Yeah, so, so I'm a very, uh, visual person. So I basically put things together on the left side. It's science and engineering, and science includes math, physics, chemistry, and psychology, and, um, nanotech technology and others, and engineering. It's really having conventional way of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, engineering, and so forth.

On the right side is a biomedicine, which can be dealing with detection or diagnosis, monitoring of diseases or guiding and planning treatment. And also prognosis for, for, for diseases. So what we do as a biomedical engineer is to apply science and engineering for medicine.

So that's a combination as a bridge from biomedical, I mean from science side to the medicine side. And also we're dealing with non-invasive or invasive approaches. And so that's really broad.

And also we're dealing with organ level imaging versus cellular level imaging. So this is pretty broad, but overall, you know, short term. Short term is combined science and engineering to apply, to apply science and engineering to biomedicine.

It seems like a lot of the stuff that we hear from in STEM studies in education applying to things that we're listening about in the hospital. Pretty much. Yes. Interesting. Okay. So we're gonna move to our first poll question now that we've talked a little bit about what bme is. And the question is, how many of you have engaged or been impacted by bme? So we wanna hear from the audience a little bit about what your experience has been. All right. We're just gonna take one more minute, not a whole minute.

Oh, it seems like the poll's not working. I'm sorry, everyone. Well, we'll keep rolling and see if that opens up. And I'll let you guys know when I get a message at the go ahead that, that poll is operational. Um, but I wanna move on to a little bit more about our biomedical engineering graduate program that's new at UT Southwestern. So Dr. Achilefu, I wanna give you the floor to tell us more about the program.

Thank you very much. I think going back to the last question you asked the audience. Yeah. Um, is biomedical engineering impacted all of us in 2020. Um, when COVID 19 struck everybody and we are all wondering what to do, we had no place to go. Everybody was afraid.

And biomedical engineers came up with within a short time, a method to create a vaccine we are using today. It was composed of bioengineering in terms of the R N A that is being used for that vaccine has been created over years by biomedical engineers as well as if you think about the nanotechnology that was used to formulate it so that you can get into your body. And also biomedical engineers. We are responsible for all the tests you're doing today to figure out if you are covid positive or negative. So if we just take that simple example,

it tells you how biomedical engineering is involved in everything we do in this world. Uh, UT Southwestern, um, I'm really excited to share that the program here, PhD program at UT Southwestern, is the first biomedical engineering program in Texas, um, in collaboration and partnership with UT Arlingtonn in 1974. And so it is been here for a long time as a program. Uh, we are really excited that this partnership includes UT Dallas and with UTA. We are looking at now this North Texas US biomedical engineering access and we are really excited about that. So at at UT Southwestern, we,

we are really fortunate to have a top-notch medical center. And what that has done is that we have over 100 faculty members affiliated with our biomedical engineering program and up to 60 specialized centers that all our students, all our researchers can be engaged in actively. Um, we have state of the arts experiential learning program, um, in the area of, um, uh, we, we are very much excited about our stimulation centers that allows our students to really see what we are teaching them and how it applies in their daily lives.

Um, we are also excited about the five programs, areas of excellence. We are focused in terms of training. Mm-hmm. Um, in imaging is one of the areas. Computational biology is another area. Uh,

biomaterials very exciting. Um, nanotechnology is great and I think we may be the only, uh, one of the few student biomedical engineering programs that has medical physics as part of our program. And this is very important for us because we want to bring a systemic interactions between the different parts of biomedical engineering to solve medical problems. Um,

our department then was created only about a year ago, uh, to bring all these activities together and then allow us to be able to synergize our efforts to solve these problems and to accomplish that we are taking advantage of our presence in a medical center. Um, uh, we are one of the very few BME departments that can say that we are right in the medical center. And what that means is that we should leverage that interactions to focus on translational biomedical engineering. And that means that while we're interested in basic science applications of biomedical engineering, we want to see bench to bedside translation from what we are doing in the, at the bench all the way to how we we help patients. Um,

so we've created these exciting models, um, that will enhance the research work in totally five areas plus the experiential learning we are bringing to our students. And one of those areas that we are excited about is bio data engineering. And this is the concept of taking machine learning. You must have heard about chat gpt and all the rest. Yeah. How they're studying and imaging all those things, bring them together and not to be seen part of their body in terms of data science, but to see the whole body.

And so we are integrating that into a toolbox that we become easily to understand by people. So that's one trust areas we are focused on. Another area that, uh, our program is really excited about is remote sensing technologies. Uh, today the whole idea is to take the hospital to the patients and not the patients to the hospital. And how can biomedical engineers really pioneer that and drive that feel forward? So I've heard the start of this with physical therapy care where you're giving a sensor to a patient so they can do exercises and evaluations. Exactly.

So that's one of the things also to know is the patient taking the drugs at all? Have they taken it at the right time? What amount is in their system? Can we monitor compliance? Can we monitor or inform them about when things are going wrong and, and time. Um, so all these technologies to the future that the hospital can be in your bedroom. Okay. That's where we want to get to. And what that means is we need to understand you when you are healthy before you become sick. And so the whole remote sensing technologies, we level the playing field and hopefully, uh, decrease this health disparity that we have today.

So that's an another focus of our program. Then, um, the other area you briefly mentioned it is where we are looking at neuro biomechanical engineering. Um, the whole idea is that we have neural engineering, which looks at the way our brain functions, the novel system works and the breakdown and everything involved with take, but they always relate to musculoskeletal, the way you move, the way you are patch parts of the body.

We are bringing those two groups together so that they work with each other and talk with each other and create something that will address the person and not the path. And so that's the area of, um, that we created our nanotechnology, our nano engineering program here duties was, was Southwest is one of the best right in the world because a lot of work is moving from bench to bedside. In fact, there are already like two clinical trials going on here where you can detect with ease the presence of, um, cancer in the body using this technology that's being developed by one of the investigators here, or the vaccines that's been created today. Part of our members played a huge part in creating the vaccine that many of you are taking, again, through nano technology to deliver this into your body efficiently.

Um, finally, I, I really want to hammer around about prevention and all the interventional technologies that are available. Uh, we are here to create tools. If we don't have it today, we can make it happen. And so the challenge we have is to work with the clinical department to come up with the problems that we can solve together, um, to accomplish all of this. We are now working in isolation.

We are working in partnership with our friend, our U T D faculty members as well as our U T F faculty members all coming together to address these problems. We have the advantage of these wonderful neighbors here with us, um, that have been col collaborating with duty over the years. And one last point, I'm sure that, uh, Dr. Prad, we mentioned this, we have this new building, the new building, biomedical engineering and sciences building is the place that innovation hub for biomedical engineering will be current is partnership with UT Dallas. And we have a, an area as well for UT Arlington to work together and solve this problem.

So that margin of ideas, expertise, and problems that we can solve together, I hope will be transformative in years to come. That is so exciting. And it seems like BME touches even more areas than I was aware of. Um, it seems like it's in every aspect of research and medical care, which is really cool. Um, I would actually love to hear from each of our speakers, maybe we'll start with Dr.

Prasad about what are some of the examples that are coming from your own university of how you're transforming the frontiers of healthcare. We heard a lot about the potential, but what are we doing in action? So bioengineering at UT Dallas is 13 years old. So we are teenagers. And so that's exciting, right? We have a of energy as teenagers, I can all remember that. Uh,

so one of the things, you know, so we've come from the genesis of applying engineering and technology, translating in that and having impact very quickly. We do have a very entrepreneurial mindset. So how do you do this? And not just bench to bedside, but bedside to business. So you add the third B to the B2B would make it be cubed, right? So how do you do this and how do you do this effectively? Essentially leveraging the strengths in the north Texas area.

We have a very strong financial community, but the community's not really engaged as in the coast about applying that their, their funding and the private equity towards translating and impacting technologies and truly having that economic impact and workforce development, right? So this is the opportunity for us. We are the fourth largest growing biotech hub right in the country right after the course. It shouldn't take us long to become the first. So how can we do that? We can only do that through partnerships. And Sam is here very nicely articulated the various ways you can leverage your clinical partnerships to towards truly applying engineering to it.

So what did we do in our 13 year history? So our very, uh, one of our first cohort of our PhD graduates, Lucas Rodriguez, started a company called Sui. And he did this for, towards essentially testing out this non-opioid pain candidates to see whether they would have value in clinical therapy. And so this company got bought out and they made a major exit about four years ago. And then that gave them, at that point a 52.5 million deal and eventually resulting in what could have been an over a billion, uh, in terms of gated equity return. Uh,

what we built, which we, uh, for covid, was this very first sweat wearable to track inflammation and infection in real time and do this to determine whether you're going to have cytokine flares or whether you're going to have essentially chronic inflammation. So we applied this to all the way from inflammatory bowel disease to all forms of immunotherapy. And this was rated as bio biomedical advanced research development authorities innovation and breakthrough technology. In 2021, we have,

of course with Richardson iq. So this is because we are located near the city of Richardson, and we are the largest, essentially employer in the CI in the city of Richardson, the partnership of truly leveraging the business community and building out capabilities. So we have the Center for Surgical Innovation, which is run by one of our faculty, Dr. (Indistinct). And the idea here is to use reality and virtual reality towards essentially dealing with precision medicine in the context of a surgical intervention.

So how would you go about doing that? And of course we have a lot in gate biomechanics. So how would you deal with diabetic or treat diabetic foot ulcers? How do you design better exoskeletons? How would you impact primarily gait through various mathematical interventions? All interesting questions. We have a lot of chemistry as well. So the idea of designing new contrast agents, the idea to essentially light up your body to see where your solid mass tumors are. So all of this is of lot of interest. We have a couple of faculty who have their own personal stories that is driven essentially the technologies that they have developed. So, but to do this in a more amplified manner and to truly turn around the same cycle of innovation that we have with our covid vaccines is this partnership that we have with this new building. And I see a lot of chat messages to talk about this. So of course,

all of you driving along inward can see this beautiful building coming up. And this is going to allow multiple multidisciplinary researchers. And Sam tells us this really nice story of stacking up the pyramid where you go from a molecule to a system, so solving problems at the most fundamental level and make it apply for the most complex system that's our human body.

And doing that across the vertical orthogonal lift of the building, right? And to do it with not just researchers and engineers and scientists, but to truly being the business people. So there's one thing which we have is the Lida Hill Innovation Fund. So this is an opportunity for our scientists and engineers to collaborate with each other from clinical to engineering and truly see whether we can bring that out and translate those tech and make it an entrepreneurial outcome. So that in a nutshell is by engineering at UT Dallas.

Thank you so much for sharing that. That's so much information and I would love to revisit some of that in more questions as we move through. But I wanna give Dr. Liu a chance to talk a little bit about the, uh, transformations that were happening in healthcare through b m e at her institution. Okay. Thank you for giving me this chance and really, uh, thank you to,

uh, to the program allowing me to share our development or research related development from UT Arlington. Now again, could I get the slides shown? Uh, going to go to page four. Again, my stuff is relatively easy to understand why you see pictures.

Page five next. Yeah, so basically my research is dealing with light and we have light all the time in our life. And then I don't think I have a mouse. But then if you see this banana, red banana shape, that basically means if we shine light on your skull, it can go through your brain and then we can really read blood oxygenation and, um, metabolism in the brain. And then what happens is that my research now, by the way, let me explain. I am a faculty member, my chair, um, Dr. Cho is not able to attend.

So, uh, from the other two chairs they're talking about their program. But then I'm just a single faculty member. I will using, I will be using my example to demonstrate how we make an impact of bioengineering on healthcare and on health, human health. So, so that's why, why don't we tell everybody what the overarching goal of using this light is.

Okay. Before we dive in. So, so, so basically this is showing you how light can go through our, our tissue, and then that can go through the, the brain. Now that's on the left side, but on the right side we can use light to treat certain diseases. On the top part it is showing that light can be treat, can be treating pain to red to reduce pain for back pain and shoulder pain. But the, the bottom right side is showing that we can shine the light on our brain and that can be used to increase our memory. And then this can be a new proposed treatment to, uh, to treat Alzheimer's disease. So if we go to the next page,

I don't want to take too much time, but then basically the idea here is that we use a laser, like a flashlight or a flashlight. Yeah. Then, then, um, next, next return. So basically we are now one more, sorry, I have this, uh, animation, but then I don't have the control. So Rio, if you, right. So,

so basically this is the experiment. We, we do, we are having healthy human adults, either young or older adults, and then shin light on the right forehead. And that is has, that has been proven through a few hundred young adults showing the, some acute improvement on memory. So, but then that was not understood in terms of a mechanism. So then we have been doing this study to understand the principles, how light is going to affect our blood flow and our new neurons and things like that. And then we got the last five years studied with the support by the, uh, h next page.

So basically here are showing some result. Now if you see the red red curve that's showing the now for the shaded area from zero to eight minutes, that's the time for light to be delivered on the forehead, which is really just, you will feel a little bit warm, but you won't really tell the difference if they, you, if subjects don't know what's going on. And then the blue curves are showing sham conditions, which means we told subjects to say we deliver light on your head, but then we didn't really deliver it. So the blood oxygenation on the right side, on the left side, and then also neuron activity on the left on the right side showing that we don't see much of change if we deliver fate light. But the red red curves are showing that it will increase blood oxygenation in the brain by this flash red colored light.

And then we also increase neuron activity, uh, by the, by the laser light. Now there are two groups of subjects we have done one group, uh, were at two, uh, uh, at U T A with 26 participants. And then we got 15 participants at UT Southwest. And we could have done more,

but then covid hit than we only got 15 people. Next page. Basically it shows that we not only changed the blood oxygenation, but we in, we demonstrated that this is also published, demonstrated that by shining light on the forehead, we see bring waves that are changing from not only the frontal area, which we get light delivered, but also on the back of the head that is incre. I mean the nuran activity and power of e e G waves are increased. Next, please. So basically this is also, uh, one more return. This was done at UT Southwestern, please. Um, Rachel, can you return one more time? Yeah. So here, um, I have a few collaborators listed and then we have done the work using M E T, which is really measuring a much more, um, detailed neuron activity on the brain.

And then here is the red areas on the top, uh, two black panels showing that the whole entire brain is lighting up, although we deliver light only on the frontal part. So that's basically just some representatives of my research. This is only on the translational research, but then the potential for this use is really to use this non-invasive and could be home-based tool to be, um, given to early, early stage of Alzheimer's disease patient. Or even we talk, we talk about healthy aging and then this can be possibly delivered to be at home.

And then we shine a light in the morning, five minutes and then five minutes in the evening. So overall we can attain better for our memory. So that's a little bit of the, my research toward that. And then this has been published, not my group, but then from other groups that they have demonstrated, uh, improvement of Alzheimer's disease patients through, well through about 60, um, AD patients. So I'll stop here for, for now.

That's amazing. I have a few questions for you about that work. Yeah. What Is the theory behind how light is affecting our neurons in our brain? Oh yeah. Now see the current theory is that one,

one light is delivered to the tissue, then it got absorbed by something called mitochondria. Mitochondria are powerhouses in cells so that mitochondria actually got the light and then that it's going to create more a t p and that a t p helps neurons to repair some aging, uh, neurons or some kind of, uh, disease neurons. And that's why that can be, uh, helpful to really use this as an, again, noninvasive low cost, possibly home-based treatment. And it seems like it's giving an energy boost.

Yeah, yeah. More exactly. Energy, More energetically. That's really interesting. So you mentioned that the muscle treatments are something you said that's already available for folks. Yes. Where are we with, um, people being able to pursue this light treatment for memory Now? Light treatment? Right now we are, uh, actually, uh, getting more, I mean, trying to get more funding because my funding was given to study healthy humans because they want to go on to understand better principles on health, on healthy people before we apply to um, patients. So, so, so that's why that's my current ongoing effort to get more funding.

And then this is part of things UT Southwestern will be, and anyone now in the audience, if you have, uh, organizations or anything like that, it would be helpful for us to get connected to PA patients because, um, when they are getting to the early stage of disease, they have to be limited with their activity driving and everything. So we plan to take our machine, our light facility to the facilities that they, let's say nursing facilities or hospitals that UT Southwest has. And I have been talking with some collaborators at UT Southwestern. Amazing. Thank you for sharing that.

Thank you. I mean, so I wanna hear more about how these collaborations are working, um, cuz Dr. Liu seems like you brought patients into UT Southwestern to be able to use our facilities there. So can you share with us maybe a defining moment from a collaboration or what has this group made possible for advancing research? No, I'm relatively supposed to be the last one among three of us, but then since I've been, by the way, I've been the longest working in collaboration with people at UT Southwestern and then some, some, uh, also, uh, people from UT Dallas. Maybe I'll just jump in now, if you go to that, uh, slice again, my, my, just quickly about my background. My background is about physics, and then I joined UT Arlington in 1996, and then I start immediately looking for collaborators because my, I know we need translation from physics, chemistry, mass to medicine. So, um, after four years of, um,

exploratory connection, then I started w working, started working with a neurosurgeon to guide the surgery tool for deep brain simulation back to 20 years ago. So that's, um, I work with neurosurgeon and that was really great. It's very fruitful. And then, I mean, it's, it's just helping me, but then also helping the entire, um, community at the time.

And then we applied for a patent at the time, and then after that I worked with another UT Southwestern faculty, not, not md, but, but then it's a PhD. He were working on radiology based detection of cancers and prognosis for treatment. So I worked with him to really using opt.

So everything I do is basic on life that I use light to detect, uh, breast cancer, how the breast cancer in responds to treatment and then prostate cancer. Then following that, I, I work with two surgeons, um, urology surgeons to detect cancer and prostate cancers. And then after that, as, as, as you can see, it's really very important for the collaboration because it's a translational work. And then from the medical medicine side, they like to have us to be there, uh, just finding some new tools maybe. But then in the meantime I can find the needed, um, directions or some kind of clinical needs. We can develop things, develop technology and algorithms, method mathematical methods to, um, promote the development of for, I mean for medicine. But in, in,

in addition to those things I mentioned, then, um, as you can see with Dr. Jose and me, we studied neurophysiological responses to light stimulation in healthy humans. But in the last 10 years, I worked with also clinicians who are taking care of neo neonates. And then as you can see, the last list is lasting about now about going to be 10, 11 years to, what I did was really developing the algorithm based upon their need.

For example, in the neonate, I mean in or or nicu, they measure blood pressure, they measure the blood oxygenation, but each of those vital signals are independent. But what we do is we put them together to, to understand the whole systematic and information and then those conditions like what we can help them, but we like to really say that's giving us an excellent chance to develop new technologies. That's really exciting.

So it's a lot of really specific examples of taking what the clinical information is, bringing it back to the bench and running, uh, some engineering tools with it. Yes. Wonderful. Dr. Prad, I'd love to hear from you about what these kind of collaborations mean to you. Ultimately as a bioengineer, you know, you have to be able to, you know, apply what are the technologies that you're building and to truly see, uh, the impacts, of course, you know, translating it into Alin clinic or a clinical model, uh, is, is kind of where it is. So we have about 7 million in funding between faculty who collaborate between U T D bioengineering and UD Southwestern. And these vary over a range of projects, right? So we have a very strong and well established collaboration with radiology as well as of course with bme. Now we are starting to build it up and of course your medical physics.

And the idea here is looking at tools and technologies that go all the way from using essentially augmented reality and virtual reality. Uh, in the context of precision medicine. Uh, Dr. Bwe faith focuses specifically on prostate cancer. I mean, he's leveraging, uh, your well-known tools that we use for gaming and reimagining them in the context of, uh, virtual design, right? So that him, we also have the ability to use hyperspectral imaging to understand how your heart is functioning.

We have a very young new faculty member in each and thing who just got his very first N I H R oh one that helps him to be an independent investigator and ask questions, right, in terms of basically what's happening to, to the heart, right? So that's him. And then he's building this, uh, you know, collaboration with Eric Olson and building that up. Uh, we have a lot of work happening at a more mechanistic space. So understanding truly in terms of, uh, you know, corneal development or the formations and looking at it in the context of eye diseases. So we have a collaborative, uh, r o one with of course Matt Petrol, David Schmidtke and Victor Warner. So here you're looking at soft tissue biomechanics and asking rather fundamental questions in terms of what's happening in terms of st tissue stiffening and relaxation.

So now we are building a little port of biomechanics engineers collaborating of course with hopefully the new people. Sam is recruiting in the new building towards truly building out capabilities to understand soft tissue biomechanics. All the way from embryogenesis is the formation of tissues. So how do your organs form what happens to them? What are fundamental questions in context? Two, developmental defects.

So these are questions they would ask too, all the way of looking at, uh, vasculature and stiffening in the context of cancer and other diseases. So there, there is this whole framework of collaboration that exists, uh, not to mention our ex expertise and strengths in neural interfaces and looking at the brain machine interface. So this is pretty huge. So we've been of course doing clinical trials through a Texas biomedical device center for the vagus nerve stimulation. So we have, uh, so they have their very first f d a approval for one of their highly small and tiny firefly micro transponders that goes and sits on your vagus nerve and you can stimulate it pretty much using RF signals. So that was really cool and that happened during Covid.

And on the other end of it, you have all the ways of looking at synthetic biology. So a significant amount of collaborations, not just from the perspective of cancer, but looking at it more broadly in the context of vaccine development, uh, in and how can you leverage CRISPR and other engineering tools in synthetic biology to address this towards building this up, we've hired a bunch of people in the physical genomic space towards collaborating with the clinicians and then engaging with the data, which is a big strength at south, at Southwestern, and also with our colleagues at Arlington towards building out that. So these are some of the examples of what are things that we are doing, and I think the future is indeed very bright and as comments I can say that we can now build not just from this, this is the foundation to build out training grants, to build out platform grants and truly become the North Texas Center of Excellence by bringing these three institutions together.

So that's a little bit about what we do. Incredible. Thank you so much. Now, Dr. Eko, I'm gonna, uh, challenge you to tell me, maybe go into detail about one specific area that these collaborations really helped kind of transform the healthcare field. What has come out of these, Um, very exciting questions, the examples you've had. All we are done between UT Southwestern and every other person because the hospital became the Center for translational work as we went forward. So those examples are examples I could have given as well,

uh, based on that. Uh, but, but instead, I'm, I'm looking at, one of the exciting things I found upon arrival here was the amazing number of clinicians from different clinical departments that are coming to me and asking, can you help us? Can we work on this problem? And that problem. And fortunately a lot of them are also biomedical engineers by training. And so that allows us to, to have these broad spectrum of collaborative programs that we want to establish. And by the way,

that's the reason we want to establish this not us network of biomedical engineers into the future. Similar to what is done currently in healthcare system, where if you're in network and you are sick, you can go to any physician within the network and, and have yourself treated. We want to create similar thing in North Texas with this network of biomedical engineers. But going into specifics, you know, um, I, um, I'm learning a lot, uh, after just a few months here. And one of the things that I keep hearing every time is the number of undergraduate students from U T D and U T A that are actively participating in this transformative research that comes from either simple things to, uh, fix broken joints, for example, or come up with a very simple device that allows people to hear better. Uh, an example of, uh, another transformative one is the way glaucoma, the eye problems is now being solved due to a collaboration between UTD professor and one, and, um, UT Southwestern Professor Kuna, Dr.

Kuna, and both of them came together and found a way to implant something that remains stable and not being followed over many years, up to seven years. And so technologies that come between the different groups are helping us to advance, uh, the field. A point that we need to know is that at UTI Southwestern, we do not have a school of engineering. And so I, I'm one of the futures in the whole world that reports directly to the dean. Um, uh, that is not of of school of engineering.

It can be good or bad. So the, the way we can look at this is that how then do we leverage resources around us to create a very strong program? So for us, we are defining biomedical engineering and little bit broadly to say that whether you are a mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, a computer scientist, you are, as long as you apply your skill sets to medicine and biology, you are part of us, you are a biomedical engineer. And so we, we have a lot of new programs that are coming up and moving forward and I look forward to sharing even more exciting specifics with you in a year's time. Thank you Dr. Achilefu. That's incredible.

I definitely wanna revisit a little bit about the education aspect of that cuz we're getting a lot of questions regarding how do you get involved, right? How do you get an education as a biomedical engineer? But I wanna open it up to our audience for the next poll question and ask them, you know, now that we've kind of gotten this broad overview of all the opportunity, what is important to you to see advancements in in biomedical engineering? What do you think it can help you with? Can you rephrase the question? Yeah, so our poll question, and I'm hoping it's functioning now, is what advancements do you wanna see from biomedical engineers? Uh, for me it's, it's a very simple one. Pain measurements. I, whoa, I really, um, I always give the example that if you, um, if I go to the hospital with my wife and we have a pain threshold of four and you ask us on a scale of one to 10, how painfully are you feeling right now? I will, my wife will say four, but I will say 16. Okay. So there's this discrepancy between how doctors can manage pain and because there's not really any method right now to quantitatively measure pain thresholds. Um, I think that people are being overdosed with drugs and doctors sometimes don't even know if it's real or fake. And so part of the whole direction we are going to push through is to find out metrics that can give them the tools to know what we call the biological pain.

And that's one area we can really transform health and disease here. And the second one, that Pelosi is our brain memory as well. Um, people are getting more and more dementia and brain memorial loss as they age.

I think younger ones are losing their memories today. How can we be able to start memory so that you can retrieve it when you're losing it? How can we reconnect those signals by stimulation of different types to awaken the broken mirrors that can help you assess memory? So those are the two areas I believe if we can measure pain quantitatively and be able to help with memory loss over time, uh, we've done a great job for the community. Amazing. And that pain scale is infamously hard for physicians to account for.

So that would be amazing. Um, Dr. Liu, for the memory aspect of it, I'm kind of envisioning like a spa I could go to and recover all the brain power I lost to, during covid. I feel like my brain is a sieve now. Um, what advancements would you like to see?

And I would love everyone to pop their, you know, desires for from B M E in the chat Because part of this is hearing from the community. We wanna know what we should be paying attention to. Um, so exactly this is what people now, meaning the people in, in this, uh, light stimulation field is trying to do, to use this tool to treat long covid. Because now it, it has a relatively large population and since this COVID thing is new now people don't understand too much. But,

but then right now since the approach is noninvasive and relatively, uh, it can be chronic, meaning you can't have longitudinal, uh, treatment. So then they are group of people who are treating patients. But then as you know, we also as a scientist, we have to follow very rigorous requirements. So that's a, um, F D A approved, uh, treatment versus at least we have to go through I rrb for certain, uh, certain procedures. Now the, the, the good thing is that this is easy and uh, non-invasive, but on the other hand, the difficult part is that it has a lot of parameters in terms of like, what color should I use? What power should I use? Should I shine the light only on left side or right side and then the whole helmet or, or anything like that. So, so that is still remain to be seen, which means remain to be determined.

So that's why we're trying to, to get, uh, certain funding and then to do a further study. But right now we, I didn't propose anything toward long to treat long covid, but then I still focus, still focus on Alzheimer's disease. But that, I mean, one reason is because it's a really, um, devastating case and then so far no cure yet for that. But by the way, I saw a question about whether they can use this to treat, um, migraine. Now in terms of migraine, people did, I mean again, since sometimes they just made, made it by themselves put the l e d around their head, so they were a couple papers published to say yes, this can be used to treat migraine, but still in terms of an exact dosage that is not standardized. So, So, okay, so I have an LED light right here and you're telling me I people are just putting that on their head and seeing, Right? So, so then now the o d uh, unit you have is too small. Our, so it needs an area,

it need the volume of the brain to be treated because our, our frontal region is dealing with a cognitive function. So if you treat only let's say, um, a pinky tip, that may not work. So, so that's an also a question, should I treat a smaller area with longer time or I ha I can do a larger area with a shorter time. So, so those are still under the tr trial and error approach. But what I have or have contributed is really toward scientific measures to say what's going on in the brain and what's the physiological parameters we can see in terms of the effects.

Thank you. It sounds like it would be really customizable if this is something that actually works for folks, you know, we can prove it with the data. Now, Dr. Prasad, I wanna come to you because I had a question about the vagus nerve transmitter you were talking about.

Do you have any information on what kind of treatment that would be for? So the vagus nerve affects every function, right? So everything from, you know, treating multiple, uh, you know, brain disorders to all the way down to urinary continents and as well as digestive diseases and your blood pressure. So everything seems to be the PIA is to trigger your vagus. So, but to know more, I think Danny posted it in the chat, look up Texas biomedical device center. They're running clinical trials in humans for a number of neurological indications and they are actively recruiting and they're doing this across the multiple health systems, uh, UT Southwestern, they're looking at Baylor, uh, you know, Baylor Scott White bunch of places, right? So there are opportunities and please do, uh, if that makes sense to enroll. But the, I think the coolest discovery from a biomedical engineering standpoint is if you can build a check engine light for your body, so before you get sick, uh, you know you're gonna get sick. If you can do that, then perhaps you can stop the spread of multiple, multiple diseases, right? So, because generally right now, allergy season, you know, is it the flu? How do you know that if you knew that perhaps you can save going out, spreading it around.

So there are great opportunities and you can build it with technology, with your apps. We are all used to having all kinds of variables with all kinds of apps. So perhaps have a check engine light for your body maybe next year. So tune back in, we'll tell you. Well, amazing,

Amazing. Well, wonderful. So I wanna hear just a little bit more about the education side of this collaboration. You know, are students studying in one place, doing research in the other? What kind of courses are we offering together? What's that look like? Sam, do you want to start? Yeah, so, um, our program here, um, the educational piece is very essential for us to do many of the things that are going on. Um, we do not have undergraduate program,

so we only focus on the PhD level training at UT Southwestern. Um, we, our students take classes, um, at, uh, here at Duty Southwestern, but at the same time we have cross modality programs or courses that can be taken at the different, um, our collaborating institutions at U T A and U T D. Um, we also have joint degree programs and that allows our students that either take classes at the other place and do joint research programs at a different institution, they can be able to get their PhDs awarded by both institutions if they made the criteria, uh, for that. Uh, so the exciting thing, one of the major challenges, you know, uh, you see about, um, uh, curriculum and how to match them together is distance. Um, if Covid did, one good thing for us is virtual learning.

Um, all of a sudden the Zoom we are using today advance, the covid has been perfected. And so in, in our new building, there are many classrooms that are well equipped for distance learning and that will allow our students and students from other institutions to have these courses done together. So some courses are cross reference between the different institutions and, and we have developed memorandum of understanding that allows us to seamlessly coordinate that. Uh,

are currently UTB and UT Southwestern are working actively on synergizing their programs. They're curriculum for the PhD programs. And the hope is that there will be common courses that we can all share together. And sometimes you don't have enough students from one institution to take a course, but it's very important. And so we can rally and get a critical mass from other institutions to bring them together to do this work physically. Um, the distance doesn't make much difference anymore because we can now use virtual distance learning to accommodate that in our programs. Um, I I could jump in just quickly actually before Covid, UTA has been, um, with UT Southwest Southwestern for this drawing graduate program for 40 years. And the distance was not a big,

big issue because the people, the students who go to UT Southwestern are really for research. So getting involved with the research laboratories and getting involved with, with clinic clinical environment and I had a student going into a neurosurgery room and then, uh, euro, euros, I mean prostate cancer, uh, surgery room, basically, it's really gaining experience for them. 80% of my PhD student graduated with UT Southwestern, um, faculty, faculty members as a mentor. So, so now with, with the Covid past, I think we can go on with definitely, uh, online teaching for classes, but then research hands-on is still very helpful and very, uh, yeah, Good point. That's very good. I was just talking about the education piece and, and that in terms of the curriculum for the training of education, yes, research, we, um, we, we have a lot of students from all institutions here, um, which is very good.

But in terms of the didactic training that our students get, um, uh, the expression of distance was really sound, I mean, profound by the students that there are some classes they would've liked to take, but just the thought of coming over to take it and going back and rest was somewhat not very, um, easy to do. But now we have that program to make it work easier for the students, um, in real time, which is exciting for me. I just wanted to do a good shout out to our UT design, which is our undergraduate training, which allows the students to have a design period that takes on primarily one third of these projects are from UT Southwestern.

So clinicians asking people to build smart theaters to figuring out new drug delivery, uh, attachments and so on and so forth. And in fact, ome the little thing to squeeze the, uh, the liquid out of your eye for your ultra high pressure for glaucoma was funded, uh, was actually one of the student track winners. The, from one of our undergraduates of kind of the co-founder of Glaucoma towards basically, you know, through our best idea, uh, big idea competition that was funded through, uh, at u tb, you know, which brings them this relationship. So we have about 600 undergraduates in our program and a majority of them tried, uh, uh, so all hundred percent of them by the time they come to their senior year have had some research experience and majority of them want to have that research experience in a medical environment.

So we have about 35 of our undergraduates any given year working in different lab clinic or in research. It looks like we lost connection with Dr. Prasad. But I wanna swing it back to you guys and say, it sounds really amazing to have this kind of giant pool of students as well as opportunities, like you said, to come in and do the hands-on learning that comes with being part of the medical center. So it sounds like an amazing partnership.

I would've loved to be a student in this, uh, group. So it's just so very exciting and I'm excited to see what you guys all do in the future. I wanna start by saying thank you for joining us. We're gonna get closed up and I am going to swing it back to our lovely hosts. Thank you Rachel. Thank you for many thanks for moderating this conversation. A special thanks to Dr. Achilefu, Dr. Liu and Dr.

Prasad for shining light on your important work as well as this growing field emerging in engineering, research and healthcare. To our guests, thank you for joining Science Cafe and engaging with us with your great questions. And to our colleagues, Dr. Cho and Dr. Chong at UTA, Danny Lamb at UTD, and our UT Southwestern team of Jenny, as well as Archana Nilaweera, Luis Escobel, Somalia Navel, our social media team of India Foster and Sierra Busby and international internal communications leaders, Stephen O'Brien. Thanks for helping organize and support this program. We're finalizing our program details and we'll be back next month on May 18th with Dr. Khan Patel, who is focusing on aging and eye disease.

Please plan to join us. I also want to quickly share information about our upcoming UT Southwestern community event this Saturday, April 22nd from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM Um, the name of this event is Carnaval de Salud and it's part of a UT System initiative with United to Serve. Um, they're gonna be providing healthcare and health information there with DISD TJ Rusk Middle School. For more information, please see our Facebook link and we are putting into this chat. For now, We wish each one of you good health and wellness and a good night.

We are now adjourned. Thank you.

2023-05-14 08:41

Show Video

Other news