Projects Proposed 2001-2002

Projects with strikethrough have been taken...

Contact Information/Project Description

1. Dr Raul Guzman, , vascular surgery
1.  Continuation of dispenser device (see King or Guzman for info)
2.  Develop a new method for counting sponges.
3.  Develop a method for artery/artery connections.
4.  Leg compression device for ultrasound testing  
2. Jason Roberts, , TN State Government
Development of an assist device for elderly persons and users with a disability who sometimes fall and do not have the ability or strength to lift themselves.  Will discuss in class on September 6.
3. Dr. Pradeep Modur,, Neurology
Development of an early warning epilepsy detection system.
4. Dr. Robert Roselli,  ,  BME
1.  Collaboration with Kevin Robinson at Belmont to design experiments and/or computer simulations that can be used in class to demonstrate principles of biomechanics or biotransport. 
2. Collaboration with Ed Glaser at Sole Supports to design and test orthopedic inserts
3. Design of a web-accessible property database.
4. Design of an interactive free body diagram computational tool for use in biomechanics.  5. I'd also be interested in a project that might arise from our conversations with the PT from Belmont who advises folks at the Cumberland Science Museum.    
5.,, Dr. James Crowe , Pediatrics
...our (vaccine) database is much more mature now, and we are using it for clinical research, if a student wanted to develop one of the remaining needed interfaces, for example the laboratory data interface to a large access database, that would be fine ....  
6. Dr Paul King, , BME
1.Develop a series of teaching examples utilizing the Innovation Workbench.  Examples must be specific to the field of Biomedical Engineering
2. Develop a system to track asthmatic patients in time and space, and monitor their respiratory status real-time.  Augment with an air-sampling system in the case of an asthmatic attack.   This project is in conjunction with Dr A. B. Brill in Nuclear Medicine and Dr. Ken Brigham of Pulmonary Medicine.  A team of 3 or more students is needed.
3. Develop a series of teaching examples utilizing the software designsafe.
7. Dr. Lloyd King, , Dermatology
1. In a recent meeting the desirability of integrating web sites that contain dermatology information to develop core curriculums for specific groups of learners that are not dermatologists was proposed.  There are already a number of www sites with digital images and minimal text but they are not organized for different competency levels of the proposed learner groups. Such a project fits within the definition of a design project,  I would be most interested to get started ASAP. 
2.  Develop a spider website (pun not intended).  Mike Smith has more than 100 35 mm slides of different spider in the USA that could be organized, labeled, digitized and text added to develop web based resource.  Vanderbilt gets lots of requests for information about brown recluse spiders as well as other spiders and bugs. 
3.  Lillian Nanney and I collaborate on Mouse Pathology Core that has the task of organizing resources available to test mouse tissues from transgenic and spontaneous mouse mutations using different antibodies other different conditions.  Getting this data set organized for use by much larger consortium at Vanderbilt and throughout TN would be helpful  first step. 

Many of these projects are technically very simple for your students and could be done part time so as not to conflict with other classwork.  Right now we do not have large project that would need multiple interacting talented students.

8. Dr Robert E Stone Jr,  (Otolaryngology)
Assessment of the effectiveness of humidification systems in the hospital as they exist now and then the status  using a newly developed mister, compare this mister with commercially available humidification systems.  Remodel the system to be used as a voice preservation device....
9.  Dr John Penn, , Opthomology
Continue last years project to avoid retinopathy in the newborn (see for details.)   Several things have occurred that will lead to better productivity if we decide to continue: 1) new monitors are being installed at all bedsides that can download data, 2) a neonatology fellow, Kendall Graham, has agreed to serve as a liaison between BME students and the NICU and 3) some recent attempts have been made by others to design a feedback loop that will provide a good starting point.
10. Prof. David M. Kelso, , Northwestern U BME
projects TBA
11. Robert V Allen, , Industry, Novabionics
The project info we need would relate to the specific biocompatible materials necessary to interface our micro-components with ceramic and epoxy exposed to the body chemistry of mice and humans so that we do not have to use a separate enclosure like the defibrillators and pacemakers. I want Don Johnson to lead the activity and he will be contacting you to set up a meeting with you to discuss this further. We could supply lots of samples that could be physically tested, observed and photographed so that the students would have to do some lab work to support their design. If all goes well, in the follow-on we could give them real working transmitters that we will be making here in Bellevue this fall under the direction of Bill Cave, President of our newest venture Micro-Nova Manufacturing.  
12. Dr. David Wasserman (Molecular Physiology & Biophysics) 
 ...lab resources are full and the only project I could offer would be one where the student develops software to improve some of our quantitation methods.  A project like that seems best suited for one student and not a group.  
13. Dr. Thomas Doyle, , Pediatric Cardiology
I would be very interested in working with some students again. One possibility would be to continue the original project of Patent Ductus Occluder.  The goal I think would be to try and build a prototype from the previous work done. I also have a couple of ideas for trying to close atrial communications.  
14. Dr. Todd Giorgio,, BME

Dr Giorgio will supervise two (only) of the following projects:
Genetic Identification of Hazardous Indoor Air Organisms:A variety of molds, mildews and fungi can develop inside buildings following exposure to moisture.  Many of these organisms are relatively harmless to humans, but some produce mycotoxins that can cause profound yet mysterious illness.  Unambiguous identification of the contaminating organism is important in judging the potential for health hazard and for developing a remediation strategy.
    The current state-of-the-art in identification is primarily classic microbiology: samples are recovered, grown in culture for several days and microscopically identified by an expert.  This project seeks to develop rapid identification strategies based on the genetic information of the organisms likely to contaminate wet structures.
    The first portion of the work will be an evaluation of emerging detection strategies and a review of published genetic information for nine organisms.  The use of DNA fingerprinting as a method of detection will be evaluated computationally and, if justified, experimentally.  EHS Services (Brentwood, TN) is a co-preceptor of this project.

 Magnetic Flow Cytometer: Superparamagnetic (SPM) microparticles (mPs) are routinely used to separate specific cells from a mixed population.  The  SPM mPs are coated with an antibody that specifically recognizes a particular cellular feature.  Incubation of the SPM mPs and the mixed population of cells results in a cellular cohort that can be extracted using an externally applied magnetic field.
    This idea can be extended to a flowing system in which the mixed cell population passes through a magnetic field that modified the trajectory of the SPM mP-labeled cells.  In a further extension of this idea, multiple cell populations can be separated through modulation of the magnetic susceptibility associated with each cell type.
    This project is based on a calculational study of a magnetic flow cytometer.  The design should result in a virtual instrument simulation of a magnetic flow cytometer capable of isolating multiple cell populations from a mixed sample.  Adjustable parameters include the strength and direction of the magnetic field, the flow chamber geometry, the volumetric flow rate, the physical dimensions of the device and the magnetic susceptibility of the particles (cells).  Franz Baudenbacher (VU Molecular Biophysics) is a co-preceptor of this project.

Magnetic Hydrocephalus Shunt: In hydrocephalus, a flexible shunt transports cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricle.  For both cosmetic and functional reasons, the shunt is normally inserted through a hole created behind the ear.  The final location of the distal end of the shunt is not well controlled due to the ventricle geometry, the fixed proximal end position and the flexibility of the shunt material.
    The distal end of the shunt contains multiple small radial openings that serve as the entry for CSF.  The typical final location of the shunt is in a field of rather mobile and dendritic cells that often occlude these small openings.
    The forward portion of the ventricle lacks these cells and is an ideal, but difficult to access, position of the shunt.  A magnet associated with the distal end could conceivably be used to guide the position of the shunt using a controllable external electromagnetic field. 
    This project is based on a calculational study of a ferromagnet associated with the end of a flexible shunt in a variable electromagnetic field.  The design should result in a virtual instrument simulation of the position of the ferromagnet and shunt as a function of electromagnetic field parameters.  Noel Tulipan (VU Pediatric Neurosurgery) is a co-preceptor of this project.

Gas Transport in a New Mammalian Cell Bioreactor:  Of all the physical parameters involved in in vitro mammalian cell culture, oxygen delivery and carbon dioxide removal are of primary importance.  The devices used to contain mammalian cells during culture range in complexity from a simple dish to elaborate cylindrical vessels more than 2,500 liters in volume.  Designed into each bioreactor is a balance of volume (how many cells do you need?), gas transport and momentum transport (beyond the thinnest fluid layer, cells require mixing to receive adequate oxygen), among other parameters.
    OptiCell, Inc. ( has developed a new form of bioreactor in which the cells are cultured between two gas-permeable plastic walls.  Breaking from traditional cell culture concepts, OptiCell is based on the novel concept of cell growth on a respiratory active membrane (RAM). This fundamental concept can be compared to the histological structure of the respiratory barrier of the pulmonary alveoli. The cultured cells live on an interactive substrate, which separates the cells from the regular atmosphere.
     Although membranes of the OptiCell are reported to efficiently exchange O2 and CO2 between the external and internal environments and promote attachment of anchorage dependent cells, the dissolved gas concentrations in the liquid medium is uncontrolled.  This project is based on a combined calculational and experimental study of gas exchange in an OptiCell bioreactor.  The work should result in a virtual instrument or simulation that describes the modulation of oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations as a function of physical parameters such as gas concentrations, cell type and concentration and OptiCell membrane characteristics.  Mark Pinson (OptiCell, Inc.) is a co-preceptor of this project.

15 Dr Benjamin Johnson, (Anesthesiology, Pain Clinic)
.  One other project that I had in mind is the creation of a software package to help us calculate opioid (narcotic) dosages for patients.  Specifically to help us convert doses of one narcotic to another.  This package could also help us design a tapering regimen of any narcotic for patients to help them wean off the medication without having withdrawal symptoms.  This could be a commercial product, ...
16. Ted Larson, M.D, (Radiology, Otolaryngology)
1.  Investigate new catheter designs.
2. Investigate new embolic agents for defect closure.
3.  Work on stent technology.
4.  Work on new deployable devices for defect closure.
17. Dr. John P. Wikswo, , Physics, BME
will respond with projects ...
18. Rich Fries, , Industry

Datex-Ohmeda BME design projects 2010, August 27, 2001

Project 1.            Cost effective "visualization" to assist epidural and spinal needle placements

Problem: In epidural or spinal nerve blocks, catheters are introduced to precise location and drugs are infused to the patient through the catheter.   Currently, clinicians rely on their understanding of the anatomy, tactile feel and years of practice to successfully accomplish this task.   Even then, success is not always guaranteed.   The sensitivity to touch of the tissues that the needle has to traverse varies with patient and with multiple needle sticks.    Is there another method of "visualizing" the position of the catheter?

Project Goal: Brainstorm alternative methods to "visualize" the position of the catheter.   Design a test equipment that can help to identify the tissue at the tip of the catheter that is introduced into the anatomical space or guide the clinician as the catheter is introduced into the anatomical space.   

Project 2.            Measurement device to increase the tactile feedback in regional blocks

 Problem: In regional nerve blocks, needles are introduced to precise location and drugs are infused to the patient through the catheter.   Currently, clinicians rely on their understanding of the anatomy, tactile feel and years of practice to successfully accomplish this task.   Even then, success is not always guaranteed.   The sensitivity to touch of the tissues that the needle has to traverse varies with patient and with multiple needle sticks.    Is there a device that can improve the tactile sensitivity?

Project Goal: Define what tactile sensitivity is desired for the clinical task.  Brainstorm alternative methods to improve the tactile sensitivity of the clinician.   Design a device to support this task.   

Project 3.            Output device to increase the tactile feedback in regional block

 Problem:  In nerve blocks, needles are introduced to precise location and drugs are infused to the patient.   Currently, clinicians rely on their understanding of the anatomy, tactile feel and years of practice to successfully accomplish this task.   Even then, success is not always guaranteed.  Is there a device that can reinforce the tactile during the procedure. 

Project Goal:  Investigate what sensory feedback is appropriate for this task?  Brainstorm alternative methods to improve the “tactile” output to the clinician.   Design a device to support this task.  

Project 4.            Automatic feedback of neuromuscular stimulation in regional block:

Problem:  Regional blocks are techniques used to introduce drugs the along peripheral nerves to block muscle movement or sensation of pain.   The ability to localize the nerve will improve the success of nerve blocks and decrease the drug dosages needed to produce the desired effect.  Presently, neuromuscular stimulators are used to target the final position of the needle.  This requires two person to accomplish the task.  One clinical to place the needle and an assistant to reduce the stimulating current to levels as the needle approaches the nerve.  The needle is placed when the stimulating current reaches 0.3 to 0.5 mA. 

Project Goal:  Design an automatic feedback device that adjusts and reports the amplitude of the stimulating current to maintain a constant level of EMG response as the needle is positioned in the patient. 

 Project 5.            Localization of peripheral nerves using electroneurograph signal

 Problem:  Regional blocks are techniques used to introduce drugs the along peripheral nerves to block muscle movement or sensation of pain.   The ability to localize the nerve will improve the success of nerve blocks and decrease the drug dosages needed to produce the desired effect.  In a previous BME project, ENG signal was suggested as a less painful and more generally applicable signal than EMG to place the needle in regional nerve blocks. 

Project Goal:  Investigate and design a device that uses the ENG as oppose to EMG signal to help with the placement of the needle.   Compare the relative merit of the two approaches. 

 Project 6.              Wireless man-machine communication 

 Problem:  The operating room (OR) is a noisy environment.  Sounds generated by machines in the OR add to the noise pollution of the work environment.   At the same time, the clinician is required listen to the patient, monitor and machine while preoccupied with the patient or located away from the information source. 

Project Goal:  Design a cost effective, light weight, conveniently carried and user friendly device that will allow the clinician to listen to mixed audible information (tone, voice, messages, etc) sent only by the device that is connected to the patient through a wireless headset.   The design must take into consideration the work environment in the OR (e.g. background noise, electrical interference, cross talk) and the types of information anticipated.  This device will be used in other human factors experimentation to explore the man-machine interface using wireless communication media.  As such, this design do not need to reproduce the exact content of the information, merely the types of content needed for the studies.   

Project 7.            Free floating input device

 Problem:  In the Operating room or intensive care unit, the patient caregiver is often required to adjust therapy devices such as ventilators, intravenous pumps, etc while preoccupied with the patient.   Often the device is located across the room from the caregiver, making it difficult or inconvenient to change the therapy without interrupting the interaction with the patient. 

Project Goal:  Design a cost effective, lightweight, conveniently carried and user friendly device that will allow the caregiver to change multiple therapy settings of a device located anywhere in the room.  

Project 8.              IV drug Project

 Problem:  I.V. drugs are commonly administered using an infusion pump.  In several new applications it is necessary to identify the actual drug being infused to ensure safety.  The method could also be used for the purposes of record keeping.

Project Goal:  To develop a method of identification of drugs when administered to a patient intravenously.

19. Dr. Peter Konrad, Neurosurgery
How about an accurate sighting system for our OR X-ray system? I still could use some sort of laser sighting alignment for the intraoperative X-rays I take of our brain stimulator implants.
20. Dr Stanley Braun <>, Dentistry, via Professor Pitz, Chairman M. E.
Per your suggestion, an overall description of the instrumentation we require follows.  It will be used to monitor upper and lower lip forces over a 24 hour period in several individuals.  The device consists of an orthodontic wire arc beginning and attached to the first molar on one side of the mouth proceeding anteriorly and close to the front teeth and then back and attached to the first molar on the opposite side of the jaw.  This wire should be able to be advanced forward bilaterally in 1mm increments.  This wire would be strain gauged and the electrical wires emanating therefrom would exit the mouth and be attached to a suitable recording device.  Needless to say the strain gauges and the immediate intraoral electrical wiring would have to be waterproof.  There would be one such system in each jaw.   I hope this description is adequate for your purpose.  

I will be at the Vanderbilt Orthodontic Department again the afternoon of September 10 through the morning of September 13, and I hope to hear from you then.  
21. Mike McDonald, , 936-1082, Pharmacology
The project involves automating a maze learning system for mice.  This type of maze is not commercially available and the paradigm is novel.  Although scientists have been using mazes to study learning for years, it's mostly been done with rats.  With all the transgenic and knockout mice being created, we are trying to transfer some of the rat tests to mice.  However, we and others have learned that mice are not simply little rats.  They are more exploratory and less goal-directed, and they don't adapt well to being handled.  A typical maze session involves handling the animal about 25 times.  Rats don't mind this and even like it, but it's so aversive to the mice that they learn to do nothing, i.e., they learn that if they run through the maze like they're supposed to, they'll get a piece of food but they'll also get handled.  So they end up just sitting in one part of the maze.  To fix this,  I've devised a paradigm that allows the mouse to run through an entire session without being handled.  But it's got to be automated, in terms of hardware, software, and electronics.  It would involve computer control of infrared sensors to detect the position of the mouse, "guillotine doors to confine the mouse in a particular space, and food pellet dispensers to deliver food "rewards" for good behavior, as well as software to collect data.  The students can also use video imaging instead of infrared sensors, if they prefer, and it can be controlled with a Mac or Windows-based computer (or Linux?).   
22. Dr. Ed Glaser, , Private Practice Osteopathy
1. Orthotic Sandal, 2. Ergonomic Chair, 3. Acne Mask as discussed in class
23. Kevin Robinson, , Physical Therapy, Belmont University
We would like to have a platform built that would allow a stable surface at one point and then once a switch is tripped the surface would tilt once weight is applied to it. So for example, the platform would be fixed and a person would jump into the air off of it, once they left the surface a switch could be pressed so when they landed it would be an unstable surface. Once the returning jumper contacted the platform an electric pulse would be triggered that we would synchronize our emg data from.  
24.  Tina V. Hartert, M.D., M.P.H., , Center for Lung Research
I am interested in asthma, and have been using pulse oximetry to demonstrate a physiologic phenomenon which I have described.  This could potentially be an  project for an engineering student, but would certainly require someone from engineering as a mentor or colleague.  We have access to all the pulse oximeters, as we run respiratory therapy.  I have seen your e-mails each year and wondered about quantitating the phenomenon in some way. The original article can be found:  
25.  Dan France, Ph.D. , Center for Clinical Improvement
1.  Blood safety studies and
2. Chemosafety studies per the email forwarded to the class on 9/26/2001
26. Alan Bradshaw, ,  Physics
Noise reduction system for gastrointestinal electrophysiology.  Design and develop a system to minimize noise in electrode recordings obtained internally from the serosal surface of the stomach and small bowel and externally from the abdominal surface of the skin.
27. via Dr Terry Kopansky, Principal, Harris-Hillman School, 298-8085
1.  Teacher Debby Ponder needs a 4'x3' base with locking wheels that can hold a student & a piece of physical therapy equipment...
2.  Teacher May Ann needs a chair with a moveable seat (vertical & tiltable) ...
28. James Crowe, M.D., , Pediatrics Infectious Diseases, 38064
Construction of an Access database for automated update and query of human B cell frequency analysis of gene usage and mutations.
29.   Irene Feurer, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor of Surgery, 322-8989, 
We are starting a longitudinal assessment of Health-related Quality of Life in all solid organ (liver, heart, kidney, lung) transplant candidates and recipients at VUMC.  We'd like some help setting up the data tracking system, which would interface with an existing Access-based data base. The purposes of the system are to: 1)  alert staff that an assessment is due (on the basis of where the pt is in the process - evaluation, listed, 1 3 & 6 mos post Tx and annually thereafter); 2) track the return rate of the self-assessment surveys; and 3) generate reports so that missing information may be followed-up on.
30.  Yvonne Bernard, x27447, case manager, Pediatric Cardiology
The exists a need for development of a database for a study of pulmonary replacement for correction of pulmonary regurgitation.  Please contact the above.  (King also has additional information.)
31.  Mel Joesten, VSVS faculty adviser, 2-2699, 
Develop models that help explain any of the following:
1. Structure and Function of Lungs
2. Digestion
3. Reflexes
4. Mechanism of Taste
5. Cell membranes and their Function in Transport
6. DNA and the Cell Cycle
7. Nerve Impulses
8. Semipermeable membranes and Osmosis

Activities for Biomedical Engineering Students to develop (Metzgar)

32.   , Coordinator NSF GKI2 Teaching Fellows,  SC 5212B,  322-0008
  1. Any activity relating to the relationship between structure and function of a tissue, organ, or system within a living organism, such as how birds' beaks are designed for eating different kinds of foods
  2.  Inquiry lessons relating to the structures that have been developed for parasites to enter the body and to attach to a host
  3.  Lessons relating to the various kinds of cells in the body and why they have different shapes/structures
  4.  Lessons to show why plants develop different kinds of roots, stems, and/or leaves for different climates
  5.  Lessons to help students to understand numerical ratios such as 1:10, 1:100, 1:1000, 1:10000, etc.
Current count:  32 sponsors, 70 projects, last update Nov 9, 2001

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