UPMC grant program funds 5 health IT projects

By Molly Merrill
09:18 AM

UPMC's new Technology Development Center in Pittsburgh has awarded grants worth $550,000 to five health IT research projects at academic partner Carnegie Mellon University. The projects range from developing software for end-stage heart failure patients to improving simulation systems for cerebral aneurysms.

The grant is part of UPMC Healthcare Technology Innovation Grant program (HTI Grants) to advance new areas of research in healthcare information technology. The program, which has been underway since Sept. 2010, is a strategic collaboration between UPMC and Carnegie Mellon University. The HTI program is funded by UPMC and is managed by UPMC's Technology Development Center.

Official say the $1 million initiative has already attracted more than 25 proposals from cross-disciplinary research teams at CMU.

[Read about some other projects going on at UPMC: UPMC to market its ‘smart’ hospital rooms.]

"These unrestricted grants will support ground-breaking areas of research that are critical for turning a wealth of healthcare information into true knowledge that  improves the care of  patients," said Rebecca Kaul, president of the TDC.
The five funded projects and their principal investigators are:

  • Development of software for improving management of end-stage heart failure patients – James Antaki, Ph.D, professor of biomedical engineering, and Antonio Ferreira, Ph.D, assistant professor of biomedical engineering
  • Creation of a digital system for identifying poisonous plants – Marios Savvides, Ph.D, director of the CyLab Biometrics Lab, and Cynthia Morton, Ph.D, head of the botany section of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
  • Improvement of a simulation system that will help researchers better understand the pathology of cerebral aneurysms – Kenji Shimada, Ph.D, professor of engineering, and  Jessica Zhang, Ph.D, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
  • Application of novel pattern detection methods to real-time healthcare data streams to provide diagnostic and business intelligence – Daniel B. Neill, Ph.D, assistant professor of information systems, Artur Dubrawski, Ph.D, co-director of the Auton Lab in the School of Computer Science, Rema Padman, Ph.D, professor of management science and healthcare informatics, and Jeff Schneider, Ph.D, co-director of the Auton Lab
  • Development of visual data analysis tools for improving diabetes care – Padman and Daniel Neill, Ph.D, assistant professor of information systems

"We thank UPMC for these generous grants, which will allow our faculty to use their technical expertise to help develop solutions for important healthcare problems," said CMU vice president for research Rick McCullough. "Carnegie Mellon has played a leading role in many areas of medical technology, and we look forward to working with the TDC on these projects, which have the potential to both improve patient care and spur economic growth."

[See where UPMC stands on MU: Interoperability gives UPMC a leg up on meaningful use.]

Created in late 2009, the TDC aims to build the next generation of healthcare information technology while acting as a catalyst for economic development in the region.

"Our challenge is to unlock the value of the data flowing through healthcare organizations," said Kaul. "By connecting patients, caregivers and insurers and sharing information seamlessly and securely, we can create a system that is truly built around the needs of patients. The result will be better patient outcomes, fewer errors and increased efficiency."