11/14/17 Craig Goergen

Craig Goergen, assistant professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and Kirk Foster, senior research engineer, test wearable technology to detect, monitor and treat preeclampsia in pregnant women. 

Two Purdue engineering professors will pursue projects relating to maternal health in poor countries thanks to money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Purdue announced Tuesday.

Craig Goergen, assistant professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, is working on a project titled “wearable low-cost automated supine pressor test for prediction of preeclampsia,” according to a press release.

Yuehwern Yih, a professor in the School of Industrial Engineering, is undertaking a project titled “demand sensing and digital tracking for maternal and child health in Uganda.”

The University said it won the grants from a contest called Grand Challenges Explorations, which supports ideas that "can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges." The Yih and Goergen projects are two of 51 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 19 grants announced Tuesday by the foundation. 

“We are excited about the global impact of Professor Goergen and Professor Yih’s research at the intersection of engineering and health care,” Mung Chiang, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, said in the release. “The visionary support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enable these outstanding researchers in biomedical engineering and industrial engineering to develop new solutions for many people’s lives in developing countries.”

For Goergen’s team, the challenge was developing wearable technology to improve the health of a mother and her unborn child that can be used in low-resource settings. The answer: combining smart phone technology with a blood pressure cuff and body-position accelerometer to detect, monitor and treat preeclampsia.

The new combination takes a pregnant mother’s blood pressure while lying on her side and then on her back to assess kidney blood flow, and then the device relays the data to physicians. This allows patients in a remote setting to be better monitored in case a pregnant woman is at risk to develop preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder characterized by high blood pressure.

Also involved from Purdue are Kirk Foster, senior research engineer, and George Wodicka, the Dane A. Miller Head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. David Reuter, a Beering Fellow and Purdue alumnus and pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is providing clinical insight.

Yih’s team is working to save the lives of mothers giving birth by developing a more efficient supply system for essential medications and supplies. The project will gather critical supply data – now kept in registries on index card-sized stock cards – and do targeted transformations into electronic form that can be used for predicting models and managing the supply chain.

Also involved are Seokcheon Lee, associate professor of industrial engineering; Paul Griffin, St. Vincent Health Chair of Healthcare Engineering, director of Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering and professor of industrial engineering; Munirul Haque, research scientist for Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering; and Andrea Burniske, program manager of innovation for the Office of Global Engineering Program’s International Development Laboratory.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched in 2008.

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