June 14, 2024

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Building the biomedical technology of the future

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UND Biomedical Engineering joins elite research group, gets federal funding to develop in-place care

students studying new technology
UND archival photo

The Biomedical Engineering program at UND has been accepted into a multi-university research group that is working to develop healthcare technologies for in-place care, and has received funding from the National Science Foundation to advance those efforts.

As of July 15, UND has joined the ranks of universities that make up the Center to Stream Healthcare In Place, referred to as “C2SHIP.” The collaborative research group was generated through the NSF’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Consortium (IUCRC). The inclusion of UND into C2SHIP marks the first time the University has participated in an IUCRC initiative.

UND has also received nearly $450,000 in NSF funding to support its inclusion in the C2SHIP organization. Kouhyar Tavakolian, director of UND’s Bioinnovation Zone (BiZ), is the Principal Investigator of the federal grant.

Inclusion in C2SHIP is also expected to significantly develop internship opportunities for UND Biomedical Engineering students studying in the Bioinnovation Zone. The facility is dedicated to developing innovation and industry interaction by providing internships for students to work on real-world problems in a professional environment.

“We are very proud of what our Biomedical Engineering program has been able to accomplish,” said Brian Tande, dean of the UND College of Engineering & Mines. “Under the leadership of Kouhyar Tavakolian, we have built a strong team of faculty and have created an innovative new undergraduate program. We’re excited about the unique opportunities our students have to work on important problems with our corporate partners.”

Tavakolian said he is honored to participate in C2SHIP, and that he is grateful for the NSF funding that will open doors for additional collaboration with industry partners across the nation, as well as the other universities in the organization. The other institutions that make up C2SHIP are the University of Arizona, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology and the University of Missouri-Columbia. The universities work alongside 21 industry partners to deliver advances in medical technology and more industrial members will be joining.

“The National Science Foundation has granted us a great opportunity in North Dakota to collaborate with leading universities and industries all across the nation,” said Tavakolian. “We will be able to make an impact on advancing health-care-in-place and reducing health care costs.”

The primary purpose of C2SHIP is to develop medical technology that allows people to preserve their autonomy by remaining in their homes longer. The same idea applies for people living in senior living facilities: developing medical technology that reduces the need for frequent hospital visits. Such advances will reduce the burden on the health care system, particularly in rural areas, or places where residents need to travel long distances to seek medical care. Residing in one’s home for a longer period of time will also have a positive impact on peoples’ mental health.

C2SHIP’s research areas cover wearable devices that include sensors or other home-based devices. Such devices can monitor medical conditions and alert health care professionals to situations such as falls. The organization also focuses on how to securely stream data from multiple devices and sensors, and then to deliver results back to patients or providers in methods that promote in-place care.

In addition to expanded internship opportunities for students, participation in C2SHIP also stands to benefit businesses and other entities that collaborate with UND’s Biomedical Engineering program. Among those entities is Edgewood Healthcare, which provides senior housing and health care services. The company supported UND’s inclusion into the C2SHIP initiative.

There are also collaborative opportunities for the Indigenous Health Department at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences. Graduate students in that program can assist the Indigenous community by identifying disparities in health care, which C2SHIP members can work to address.

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