Three Hopkins teams receive grants from the Bisciotti Foundation Translational Fund



The Bisciotti Foundation Translational Fund, which funds medical groups affiliated with Hopkins, was recently awarded to three research teams. Each of these research teams has developed a product intended to solve a problem in the medical field. Ideally, the projects will contribute to increasing the accessibility of medical care. According to the Bisciotti Fund website, the Bisciotti Fund will support teams for up to nine months in their work to market their designs.

Hopkins Hospital cardiology researcher Dr. Ethan Tumarkin and Vanderbilt University cardiology researcher Dr. David Armstrong developed transnasal esophageal echocardiography. Early in the pandemic, Tumarkin encountered a patient who needed a transesophageal echocardiogram or cardiac ultrasound performed by inserting an ultrasound probe down the throat, but the patient was not healthy enough for the receive.

Tumarkin spoke about the situation in an interview with The News-Letter.

“One of us said, ‘Too bad we can’t find a way to do it without using sedation to make it safer.’ So we started thinking about ways to do it, and that’s how the idea developed,” he said.

Their initial idea evolved into transnasal esophageal echocardiography, which involves inserting the ultrasound probe through the patient’s nose rather than through the throat. They argue that their echocardiography method is valuable because it expands the availability of cardiac ultrasound, as the lack of sedation means the procedure can be performed anywhere.

“We think this could really revolutionize the way transesophageal echo[cardiography] is done,” Armstrong said.

Their next step is to start creating prototypes, which most of the money from the Bisciotti Fund will go to. They will then use these prototypes to test the product and make sure it meets Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.

Radiology Professor Dr. Clifford Weiss, Assistant Radiology Professor Dr. Christopher Bailey and medical student Aryaman Gupta have created a new feeding tube for gastrojejunostomy. They change feeding tubes frequently and, although the procedure is important, it is time-consuming and exposes patients to radiation. Bailey and Weiss came up with their idea while thinking about how to reduce the frequency of tube changes.

This gastrojejunostomy feeding tube is different from normal feeding tubes because it can be replaced by caregivers, while normal tubes can only be replaced by professionals. In an email to The News-LetterWeiss noted that this way doctors and patients save time and the need for anesthesia and fluoroscopic guidance is eliminated.

Like Armstrong and Tumarkin, this team also plans to use the Bisciotti fund for prototyping, testing and FDA compliance. Bailey discussed their progress in an interview with The News-Letterwhich currently includes patenting and refining their technology.

“We are cutting back on the design phase. The overall concept is solidified, but the individual elements of that, in order to make that a real, working reality, we’re doing a lot of back-and-forth about that,” Bailey said.

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Therese Canares and Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science Mathias Unberath have designed a new artificial intelligence-based strep throat screening system. According to Canares, children with strep throat are usually taken to the pediatric emergency room (ER) where Canares works, although many cases are not severe enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room.

She talked about it in more detail in an interview with The News-Letter.

“Not all cases of strep throat need to be seen in the emergency room. It’s kind of like using a hammer to crack a nut, since the ER is a place you usually go to when you’re very, very sick,” she said.

Canares thinks the problem is that many people don’t have easy access to other forms of health care, so they go to the emergency room for minor illnesses. Canares had worked with Unberath in the past, so they decided to partner on this project as well. They believe their technology, an algorithm designed to detect strep throat, will allow patients to get tested for strep throat without having to go to the emergency room.

The team plans to use the Bisciotti Fund to develop the application that will host the algorithm and to obtain images for the training of the algorithm, especially since avoiding algorithmic bias is one of the main objectives. of Canares and Unberath. Additionally, the Fund will help move the project forward to the point where Canares and Unberath can secure more funding.

In the future, they plan to create a startup around technology. Currently, planning for this element of the project involves identifying potential customers and speaking to experts in the telehealth industry.

In an email to The News-Letter, Canares mentioned that the team is seeking feedback on the project. She encourages anyone who has had tonsillitis or strep throat and wants to help her with her technology to email her at [email protected]

All three teams stressed that receiving the Bisciotti Fund was essential to the advancement of their projects. They all expressed their gratitude to both the Bisciotti Fund and external sources of support which they believe have been crucial in the development of their technologies or applications to the Fund.

Armstrong explained this.

“It’s important for us to acknowledge the help we’ve received from the folks at Hopkins, both in Cardiology and at Hopkins Technology Ventures,” he said. “They really helped us apply and prepare for the Bisciotti Award, and gave us the confidence and the tools that we used to be successful.”

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