Project List 1997 - 1998

projects  with strikethrough have been claimed ...

Sponsor                                                       Project(s)

Dr. Bill Walsh


I would love to have your students work with us in the NICU
regarding the design of biomedical systems.

1) Devise a method of measuring or estimating residual lung
volume in infants

2) Develop a software model of ECMO to use in training

3) Develop a feedback mechanism from the pulse oximeter to
the oxygen supply to maintain steady state oxygenation.

Paul H. King


Help develop an ALN version of this course

Complete and test a Pain Clinic Database

Complete and test an OR data gathering system (inpatient).  Develop web interface for data display.

Complete and test an OR data gathering system (outpatient)

Assist in redoing and testing a machine faults component of the Human Patient Simulator.

Work with Messrs. Patel and Yarbrough on various Periioperative database systems. (VB, J++)

Develop and test an Excel based measurement system for perioperative stability determination.

Develop a drug/anesthesia agent interaction/warning system (c D. Pierce)

Dr. R. Roselli


1) Use of Microsoft® Access for database management in the laboratory.

2) Design of reports with Microsoft® Access.

3) Design of a system to back up laboratory data files.

4) Design of DasyLab worksheets for real-time data acquisition in the

5) Use of the C programming language to collect and plot data from a pulse
height analyzer.

6) Design of a program to analyze multiple indicator dilution data.

Dr. Doris Quinn


I can take 2 sets of students again this semester. The two projects involve more of the same (process analysis) but in one clinic we are ready to do some more advanced work with data. (I sure wish you had an industrial eng. person to help me think about this stuff.)

The two sites wanting more students are: Rheumatology (where the advance work will happen) & Surgery clinic

topics will be discussed in class ~9/30

Dr. Joel Barnett

34780 - Welding Lab

various ME related projects - tba -
Brandon Dewberry

Jerry Collins
Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine
Vanderbilt University

Possible Student Projects in Electrical Impedance Spectroscopic Measurement of Physiologic Fluid Shifts in a Human Calf

Task 1 - Hardware Design and Implementation

Given schematics, parts, and support, the researcher(s) will review, augment, implement and test a circuit which is capable of measuring the electrical impedance of a human limb (calf) at frequencies from 1kHz to 100kHz. Manual data acquisition (through a multimeter and/or oscilloscope) and data analysis (using a spreadsheet) will be used to verify the system's function.

This task requires knowledge of analog electronic circuits, especially those with operational amplifiers. Some familiarity with circuit board implementation (wire wrap or solder) would also be helpful.

Task 2 - Computer Interfacing and Software Development

Using the analog board from Task 1, or the one already developed, and given a schematic, parts, and support, the researcher(s) will review, augment, implement and test an optically isolated standard PC parallel port analog input/output circuit which will allow automatic acquisition of impedance data and control of the stimulus frequency. A C program will be implemented and configured as a Matlab mex file for interfacing between this I/O circuit and a Matlab-based user interface. Matlab functions will be developed for acquiring the impedance spectrum, archiving the experimental data, and analyzing previously archived data.

This task requires knowledge of digital electronic circuits including Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs) and Digital-to-Analog Converters. In addition, some experience with C programming on a X86 PC is required. Some familiarity with Matlab would also be helpful.

Task 3 - System Analysis and Parameter Identification

Using Matlab the researcher(s) will investigate various equivalent circuit models and identification techniques for measurement of the electrical impedance spectrum and fluid volume characteristics of a human limb. A simple two path RC circuit, the Cole-Cole model of cell time constant distribution, and a variety of multipath models will be analyzed. Swept sine spectrum generation and least-squares parameter identification, white noise spectrum generation with least-squares parameter identification, and recursive processing least-squares identification will be applied to all the models in the presence and absence of instrument noise for comparison.

Harris-Hillman School

Terry Kopansky, Principal


1.  Develop a motor/switch combination so students can swing themselves (Skipper)

2. Develop a scooter board that a student can push with his feet while prone on hios back. (Skipper)

3. Adapt Reggie's walker so he can't put his feet up on the bars, but still has the ability to move about.(Skipper)

4. Develop a switch holder that is easily connected to feeder seat and other devices (Skipper)

5. Develop a handle for walkers that an adult can use to assist students in turning the walker... (Marston)


Dr. R Steven Couch

Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehab. Hospital, 320-7600

&/or David Weigland, Engineer

1. Develop computer access for C5 or higher quadriplegics (no hand use)

2.   Develop an interior use ramp that can be easily dismantled/stored.

3.  Develop a means for high level quadriplegics to access recreation, such as billiards.

4.  Design & construct a static model of an automobile for training persons with ambulation impairment how to transfer safely.

United Cerebral Palsy Foundation


Special projects, such as typing aids for clients...  Call for details (speak with Randy Smith, director)

S. Julian Gibbs DDS PhD Voice:
Professor, Dept. of Radiology & Radiological Sciences
Vanderbilt University


It has been rumored that you are searching for senior projects. I think we have one design project and possibly fabrication.

We need a specialized adjustable collimator for an x-ray machine used for cephalometric radiography. This is a specialized technique used mostly in orthodontics, consisting of a lateral teleradiograph of face and cranial base. The patient is precisely positioned in a device that provides repositioning the patient for subsequent films. The film is used for anthropomorphic evaluation of craniofacial growth and development, both in children and in adults.

The cephalometric film must show a wide dynamic range, from occipital condyles to soft-tissue facial profile. No film or screen-film system is capable of this. The collimator should provide for independent adjustment of all 4 leaves so the beam will cover only the area of clinical interest which is usually assymetric to the central axis. In addition, there should be a filter with a small hole in center to provide increased exposure to the region of posterior cranial base. Also there must be a wedge filter to decrease exposure to soft-tissue profile. All of this must be adjustable to the patient using a light beam localizer which is coincident with the x-ray beam.

The proposed device would be very useful in the VUMC dental clinic, located in the Village at Vanderbilt. It could be a scratch project or could modify an existing adjustable collimator to provide the required features.

Let's talk if you are interested.
Kristin King - Graduate Student BME

& Dr. Jerry Collins
Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine
Vanderbilt University

 Project Description

The distribution of body fluid in three main fluid compartments of the body: the intravascular space, the interstitial space around the intravascular space, and the intracellular space is of critical importance in understanding and treating many different diseases affecting the control of the cardiovascular system. People with such diseases often have trouble adjusting to postural change. Some people grow dizzy or faint when they stand. The heart rates of others increase dramatically when they stand. There is evidence that body fluid redistribution in these patients is different from that in normal subjects.

Fluid intake and other interventions also cause body fluid to redistribute among these compartments. Redistribution patterns in response to these interventions may differ between patients and normal subjects as well.

Body fluid distribution is also of great importance in space travel. Entry into and return from the microgravity of space can cause dizziness and loss of attentiveness to duties. Inattentiveness may be particularly critical during launch and return. Changes in the set points of the autonomic control system have also been implicated in other short- and long-term physiological adaptations to space flight.

Studies of both autonomic disorders and microgravity environments (simulated by bed rest with a slight head-down tilt) are being conducted in the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) at Vanderbilt. In order to study mechanisms affecting the distribution of body fluid, Kristin King, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, and Jerry Collins, a faculty member in biomedical engineering who works in the GCRC, have started to develop a mathematical model of the blood circulation in major regions of the body. This model includes the capability of simulating postural changes through the incorporation of adjustable gravitational gradients within regions. It also includes microvascular transport and indexes of cardiovascular control. Aspects of the model are being developed in Excel and other aspects in Matlab. It may be also be necessary to write model code in Microasoft® Visual C++®  or some other environment.

Students interested in working on this project should contact Dr. Collins at the phone number or E-mail address above.

Dr. Richard Shiavi


 1. Department of Clinical Pharmacology - Prescription drugs often have deleterious side effects that affect balance of persons, especially the elderly, and the disposition to falling. Certain classes of drugs, in particular benzodiazepines, are presently being studied in order to determine the relationship between dosage levels and the control of balance. Data are collected in the balance laboratory on the Clinical Research Center and various characteristics of floor reaction forces and movements of the center of pressure are used to quantitize the state of balance. Classical signal processing techniques presently do not determine well the distinction between normal and pathologic balance control. It is hypothesized that the concepts and techniques of Chaos and Fractal Analysis will be better able to make the necessary distinctions. Someone is needed to explore the viability of using some of these techniques.

2. Clinical Research Center - Disjunction of the autonomous nervous system (ANS) results in various disorders of the cardiovascular system (CVS), for instance, in the control of blood pressure. The performance of the CVS in response to various therapeutic interventions is being studied through the measurement of blood pressure, cardiac activity, etc. These investigations require acquiring data for long periods of time. A capability that would expedite theses investigations are specifically designed data acquisition systems. An environment that is very suitable for this task is LABVIEW. The development environment for LABVIEW is a graphical one. the strength of this approach is that it allows one to create user-friendly interfaces with little difficulty. Someone is needed to create these data acquisition systems.

3. Department of Psychiatry – The treatment of and the understanding of the pathogenesis of major psychiatric disorders continues to be a subject of extensive research. Specifically the role of serotonin and typtophan are not well understood. The levels of these chemicals are measured from samples of cerebrospinal fluid taken every 10 minutes over a 24-hour period. Spectral analysis and other analyses need to be applied to determine if there are diurnal rhythms in the levels of these chemicals.

Dr. A. B. Brill, Dr. Julian Gibbs

x37152 (Nuclear Medicine)

Simulation and modelling of a multidetector imaging device for lead levels in the brain.
Dr. King or other sponsor Padnos Design Competition - design of environmentally responsible systems ...


(1st/2nd/3rd prizes, nationwide design competition ...)

Mays & Associates

Burke L. Mayes


Multifunctional Physiological Data Acquisition and Analysis Device

(see in-class handout, some $ may be involved, 2+ team members...)

Katie Martin

Exercise Physiologist - Health +


Change the biomechanics of ultrasound technicians work to ease work with infants.

Evaluate & change the work environment for printing personell in the Vanderbilt Printing facility on Chestnut St.

Other biomechanics projects...  Risk Management related.

Marissa Thalman, PT


Dayani Center x38844

I have several ideas for the students this year, but the most important one to the Dayani center would be for a student to create an outcomes database for physical
therapy. This would include tracking mechanisms for demographics, diagnosis, charges, ect.. and would need to be integrated with the new hospital system, EPIC.

Other ideas include: collecting data for one or two research projects which relate to low back pain and/or pressure garments for burn patients; designing a floatation
device for the water that is easy for the senior population to take on and off, and that provides adequate safety;
or, designing a burn garment for donor sites that does not need to be measured to fit, and still creates to proper amount of pressure to decrease scarring.

If I am not available,  you can contact Jay Groves if you have further questions.

Zafir Karabulet ("Zee")

Dayani Center x24751

Develop a technique to measure residual volume in patients while also accomplishing underwater weighing ...
Hak Choy, M.D.
Clinical Director
Assoc Professor
Center for Radiation Oncology

I have several research projects ...

The first project is serial CT scanning of patients to identify the possible movement of anatomical landmark and figure out how to minimize the variation of radiation treatment volume.

The scond project is in -vivo experiment to study interaction of  RSR-13 ( allostertic hemoglobin modifier ) and Ionizing radiation.

The third is a feasibility study of a dual SPEC/PET scanner to assess the  response and toxicity of radiation.(Human study)

let me know if any students want to be involved ....

Dr. Mary Nies

Dr. Jerry Collins


Here's a project from Mary Nies, one of our new GCRC Advisory Board members and a faculty member in the School of Nursing. Obesity among females, particularly African-Americans, is a considerable problem. Here's a chance to build a database structure, probably in Access, which will help Dr. Nies collect and interpret this most important set of data. I particularly like this problem because it addresses real people with real problems and may take the engineering team out into the community as well as into the laboratory.

A description of the project follows. Please feel free to post thisparagraph, as well as the description below, at the Web site.

The purpose of this research study is to increase physical activity in healthy women (n=300) in the community. A subset of these women will come to the GCRC to have additional measures taken in the GCRC. This biomedical engineering  project involves the development of a program to accept,store, process,analyze, and interpret data from these additional measures (24 hour chamber stay, resting metabolic rate as outpatient, BOD POD, Smart Insole,& lab) in the GCRC. Dr. Mary Nies is the principal investigator. Dr. Jerry Collins will assist Dr. Nies in mentoring the biomedical engineering team in the collection and interpretation of data and in the structuring of the database.
Dr. Bill Richards

I am a surgeon who has developed a very effective collaboration with the department of Physics (John Wikswo and Alan Bradshaw) working on a number of projects. One project that I feel would be very interesting for the bioengineering students to work on in is to help us develop intraop and postop electrical recordings of the small and large intestine. I believe that measurement of intestinal smooth muscle electrical activity will be able to quantitate the degree of ischemia and evaluate the viability of the bowel. Currently when a surgeon opens a patient and finds ischemic bowel they can determine obviously dead intestine from the gross appearance but they cannot distinguish which parts will recover and those that will progress onto full thickness necrosis. The surgeon will typically resect the dead segments of intestine and replace ligated segments of intestine back into the abdomen and return the patient to the ICU. Forty eight hours later they will reoperate and examine the intestine again resecting grossly dead intestine and possibly anastomosing the viable segments of intestine. Sometimes they cannot decide whether the segment is viable or not. This reoperation is termed the second look procedure and has many obvious disadvantages multiple reoperations, no objective measurement of intestinal viability in-between reoperations, and its gross insensitivity to determine viable bowel. Our studies have shown in animals a number of parameters electrical activity that can determine or measure bowel viability. We are just now embarking on translating this animal research into investigation in patients. I would like to work with you and the bioengineering students on the development, implementation, design of recording equipment and analysis of data in surgical patients.

I have other projects but this particular project is the most clinically ready to go and has the most interface with your group.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Maciej Buchowski


Sickle cell disease is a devastating phenomenon characterized by crises which have cardiovascular and other manifestations. During crises, red cells become less pliable and assume a typical sickle shape (hence the name) which makes the cell less able to traverse the microvessels, carry and exchange oxygen, and perform other red cell functions normally. These crises are very painful, occur at unpredictable times,and can be life-threatening. Sickle cell disease is genetic in origin and occurs primarily in African-Americans in this country, although it is not limited to such populations world-wide.

It is believed that sickle cell patients have higher metabolic (energy) rates than normals. Some of this cost may be related to the higher energy costs of maintaining the red cells in their altered state, or to increased energy costs of circulation. Knowledge of these patients' energy requirements may lead to improved treatment (fewer crises, less pain, greater life expectancy) for them.

Dr. Maciej Buchowski is investigating this question by measuring the metabolic rates of people with sickle cell disease and of an age- and gender-matched set of volunteers in a series of studies in the metabolic chamber of the Vanderbilt General Clinical Research Center (GCRC). This live-in chamber measures energy expenditure two ways: by sampling incoming and outgoing gases (to measure O2, CO2, and H2O differences) and by measuring mechanical movement through an array of strain gages placed beneath the chamber floor.   The experimental protocol is complex and generates data from six different laboratories and sources, including the chamber itself. Although some preliminary work has been done toward automating the accumulation of data from these laboratories, much work remains to be done. This project will  include the design and implementation of a database in Microsoft® Access  which will accommodate data from all these sources, and make possible the appropriate statistical analyses within the appropriate environments.
Interested students can contact Dr. Buchowski or Dr. Jerry Collins, who will consult with Dr. Buchowski and mentor students in this application.
Dr. Italo Biaggioni

Dr. Andre' Diedrich


The Autonomic Function Laboratory adjacent to the Vanderbilt General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) is a world-renowned referral center for patients with disorders of the autonomic (cardiovascular control) system. There is an opportunity for a student or team to set up an automated system for testing people in this laboratory. The idea is to develop data acquisition hardware that can be connected to any PC-compatible computer via the parallel port and to automatize as much as possible the data analysis and reporting capabilities of this system. Hardware costs will be borne by project investigators Dr. Italo Biaggioni and Dr. Andre' Diedrich, and software mentoring will be furnished by Dr. Diedrich. Interested students can contact Dr. Biaggioni or Dr. Diedrich  for more information.
Crowe, James E, JR
Vanderbilt University
Email: james.e.crowe@Vanderbilt.Edu

Dr. Crowe has written Dr. Shiavi a fairly extensive e-mail describing a need for development of a multicenter pediatric vaccine database system. I consider it a 2-3 person project for any of you who wish to be involved in a very useful database from the ground up...

A far-sighted approach would be to include a Microsoft® Visual J++(tm)   based portion so that their legacy systems might remain intact...

see me (King) or Dr Shiavi or Dr Crowe for further details...

Dr. Marc Lin

6811 Stevenson


Phased Array Cardiac Stimulator

3-D Wavelet Analysis of Optical Imaging Data

Choas Analysis of Whole Heart

R.E. (Ed) Stone, Jr., Ph.D.
Vanderbilt Voice Center
1500 21st Ave So. Suite 2700
I have a project that may be of interest to one - three of your students in BME 272-273.

Background: Voice therapy for those with Parkinson's Syndrome may involve the daily patient's practice of repetitively producing voice sustained at a given pitch, and intensity for as long as possible. Whereas we have laboratory instrumentation for computerized monitoring of these parameters it currently is necessary for patients to come to the clinic for supervised practice four days per week for four weeks.

It is our intent to make the process more convenient for our patients by implementing the computer program on a laptop computer. To do this we need to
identify and integrate transducers for air flow, intensity of voice and fundamental frequency (pitch of voice) into the voice therapy system (substituting the new transducers for the more costly and bulky system we have in the lab).

Stage 1 -
Develop a means of monitoring vocal intensity from a microphone signal. This
probably is mainly a software development project that would take a calibrated
signal(s) and interpret the dB SPL of the patient's vocal utterance. The output
of this information could be entered into existing software for display on a
computer screen and for statistical summarization.

Stage 2 -
Develop a means of monitoring vocal fundamental frequency (60 Hz - 1,000 Hz)
from a microphone signal. This probably is also a software project that would
be integrated into existing software for display on a computer screen and for
statistical summarization.

Stage 3 -
Develop a means of monitoring air flow (10 ml/sec to 1000 ml/sec). This would
involve identifying a transducer and integrating the output signal into existing
software for disply on a computer screen and for statistical summarization.

In essence, Dr. King, this is a project that springboards off of Jay Gallagher's
masters thesis. His work employed the use of the Nagashima Phonatory Function
Analyzer to transduce vocal intensity, fundamental frequency and air flow. The
current project is to make his work more user friendly by identifying and
employing different instrumentation for monitoring SLP, Hz and Flow Rate so that
patients can do the project at home.

Later, we will want to add videoconferencing capabilities so that we in the
clinic can monitor visually how the person is doing the practice at home as well
as download the data to our clinic computer for analysis. This might be another
project that students could help us with once the laptop computer system is up
and running.

Let me know if you need clarification of anything I have indicated above.

Dr. Diedrich cuff project
Dr. Diedrich valsalva project
Dr. Diedrich wavelt project
Dr Mark Courey

Vanderbilt Voice Center

The first Voice Center project deals with developing a scannable questionnaire form for the Voice Center and a computer program to hold the data base. In the near future, all Voice Center patients will be filling out questionnaires about the physical and psychological effects of their dysphonia and its treatment. In addition, they will be filling out a general health survey to see if their dysphonia affects their general health perception. We will accumulate over sixteen hundred questionnaires in a 12 month period. We need to make them as computer-aided as possible to limit the need for manual data entry and minimize entry errors, and facilitate statistical analysis and interaction with other data bases. This project would be of interest to other voice centers in the nation as well. Perhaps grant money could be obtained from either the American Academy of Otolaryngology or the NIH.

The second Voice Center project deals with computer-aided capture and analysis of laryngeal emg signals for data analysis and interpretation. This would probably be a more complex task, involving data capture and analysis, signal processing, and mathematical modeling or characterization of the muscles of the larnyx, and would require at least 1 year of dedication to obtain the normals and then to evaluate abnormals and categorize the responses.
Mr Douglas Gaillard (RN, PA)

443-8095 H 444-2773 W

Complete design on a toenail clipper device.

Misc. other topics tba.

phone 60760

Clinical Toxicology has a  strong interest in sponsoring a 272 project to link two  toxicology databases, one in a european standard, the other in American. Linking these two would be of benefit to the 84  Poison centers around the Country. There may be some  other opportunities for design work in the poison center or   in clinical toxicology. Please contact Dr Bonfiglio who is  the Poison Center Program Director.
Paul King design & set up a departmental database for educational
goals & objectives documentation...
Dr. Ed Brin

376-9112 (messages)

Complete design of a needle-less injection device.

VIctoria L. Morgan, Ph.D. *
Department of Radiology *
Vanderbilt University Medical Center *
Nashville, TN *
phone (615) 343-8452 *
fax (615) 322-3764 *
email *
I am looking for a student to work on a project with some researchers at the
Kennedy Center. We have a mock MR scanner over at the Kennedy Center and
they are trying to set up a type of motion control device that would be
attached to the person's head in the scanner that would sound some type of
alarm to indicate motion of the head. They had someone start the project
who was unable to finish it and they have been in contact with people at
Cutler and Hammer. The purpose of all this is to train the subjects to lie
still for the scans.

Do you have any students that could do this for a senior project or do you
know who else I might contact to find a student to do this?