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Anticipatory Medical and Cellular Devices

What if we could prevent infant apnea? Learn more...

In a famous advertising campaign from the late 1980s, an elderly woman lies on the floor near her walker and calls out: "I've fallen and I can't get up." By pushing a button on the device that she wears around her neck, she summons help.

Researchers working on this platform envision a similarly portable, wireless device that could be worn on a belt -- essentially a medical PDA. But this one is so attuned to the body's signals that it could detect a life-threatening event, like a fall, before it happens -- and stimulate nerves and muscles to restore normal balance and movement. These kinds of "anticipatory" medical devices signal a radical shift from static to dynamic medicine. They might prevent the heart from going into an arrhythmia, trigger insulin to be released inside the body to ward off diabetic shock, or even utilize programmable cells to repair internal errors such as genetic disorders or to fight disease.

In addition, our ability to engineer complex gene circuits and cellular devices by assembling interchangeable, standardized and well-characterized "bio-parts" opens up a world of possibilities in fighting disease and infection. This effort will produce a new class of medical devices at the interface of engineering, chemistry, and genetic engineering. Controllable devices will be able to sense, probe, and dynamically track cellular physiology and function -- and intervene to tune gene expression.

Lead Projects and Technologies

NeuroAssess Quantitative and Portable Neuromotor Assessment
A new quantitative measure of neuromuscular performance
Vibrating Insoles Balance-Restoring Insoles
Insoles that may improve balance and walking dynamics
Infant Apnea Prevention Infant Apnea Prevention
An integrated system that may prevent the onset of neonatal apnea
A lightweight, portable robotic thumb exoskeleton for at-home rehabilitation



James J. Collins
Ary Goldberger
Radhika Nagpal
David Paydarfar
Conor Walsh
Robert Wood





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