The same co-axial wiring that now brings cable television programming into our homes may soon link us with our doctors when we are sick.
Georgia Tech researchers are teaming with colleagues at the Medical College of Georgia's Telemedicine Center to develop "proof-of-concept" capability for delivering medical care to patients at home via telemedicine.
With funding from the Army Medical Research and Development Command, researchers will develop and install telemedicine units in the homes of 25 patients and in one nursing home. These units will be linked to medical communication hubs at the Medical College of Georgia and Eisenhower Army Medical Center. These hubs will be staffed 24 hours a day by medical professionals who can be in contact with the patients by two-way audio, video and data links.
Patients for this project will be selected by doctors, and will be persons who frequently need to see their doctors for relatively minor illnesses. The telemedicine units in the home will be equipped with an array of diagnostic devices tailored to the medical needs of the patients selected by the doctors. Output from these diagnostic devices will be forwarded to the medical hubs using the cable television coaxial cable.
Under this concept doctors will be able to "see" their patients electronically, without requiring the patients to physically travel to a hospital or doctor's office.
"It's quite probable that this type of patient diagnosis will prove successful and cost-effective," said Jim Toler, Co-director of Georgia Tech's Bioengineering Research Center. "If that happens, the way medical care has historically been delivered will be drastically changed in the future."
Researchers on this project are aware of only one project similar to this one, and it involves three patients.
An alliance of six major Georgia medical and technology organizations has joined together to further the development of telemedicine.
The Southeast Telemedicine Alliance (STA) is made up of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Baptist Medical Center, Emory University School of Medicine, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and the Eisenhower Army Medical Center. Via these organizations the Alliance represents the telemedicine interests of civilian, military, public, private, university-based, non-university-based, medical and technical entities. Members currently are identifying telemedicine organizations in other southeastern states so they can be invited to join, says Jim Toler, co-director of Georgia Tech's Bioengineering Research Center.
"With the formation of the Alliance, telemedicine information and plans across the Southeast can be exchanged in ways beneficial to all," Toler says.
Current members are sharing information on existing telemedicine programs, discussing technical approaches appropriate for future telemedicine efforts, seeking joint support from telecommunications companies, and responding collaboratively to federal solicitations for telemedicine-related research proposals.
Georgia Tech heads a group awarded almost $9.5 million by The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) to create a Molecular Design Institute (MDI) for the study and synthesis of new materials. The group includes partners at Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratories, TDA Research, Texaco and Exxon.
"I was pleased, but not surprised, to learn that the Office of Naval Research had selected Georgia Tech for the Molecular Design Institute," said Georgia Tech College of Sciences Dean Dr. Gary Schuster. "Our College of Sciences and College of Engineering are uniquely qualified to advance the discovery and development of new materials that will define progress in the 21st century."
The ONR selection was based on five criteria: overall scientific and technical merits; the candidates capabilities, related experience and facilities; the qualifications and experience of the principle investigators and key personnel; realism of the proposal costs; and the amount of matching funds.
Each MDI (one also was awarded to Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.) is focused around a core institution. The institution must have strengths in all aspects of the related sciences (solid state physics, material science and inorganic and organic chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology) along with demonstrated successful experience in coordinating multi-institutional programs and in participating in technology transfer with U.S. industry.
"Investigators at the institute will focus on discovering the insight that nature offers in making materials and then apply those methods to preparing new, superior materials," said Tech MDI Director Dr. William Rees.
In the past, materials were pulled from known stockpiles and elements were added to compensate for a determined weakness. By designing new materials for specific applications, scientists and engineers can eliminate a waste stream, increase overall efficiency and create presently unknown materials based on nature, the best known model available.
In submitting the proposal, Tech built in a strong educational component, Rees added. In all, Tech will be able to use ONR funds for 30 to 45 graduate positions across several academic units over the next five years.
"This institute allows us to educate a new generation of scientists and engineers who approach important problems from the perspective of the design of materials for specific applications," he said.
"The true beneficiaries of the Molecular Design Institute will be the students whose outlook will be broadened by participation, and the citizens of Georgia and the nation who will be rewarded by the discoveries that will certainly be forthcoming," added Schuster. "Tech is the right place at the right time for a forward looking agency like ONR to turn to for discovery. Support from the GRA and from Tech's central administration demonstrates again the commitment to excellence in learning and research."
GRA funds will be used in MDI to purchase equipment and to support eminent scholars (Tech will have two eminent scholars, and Emory will have one).
"The institute's focus on partering industry, university and government to promote the design of new bio-materials clearly set this initiative apart from the competition," said GRA President Bill Todd. "This outcome is precisely what the Georgia Research Alliance was formed to facilitate."
Initial funding from the ONR is $490,000, with $4 million committed to come later this year. The GRA funds for MDI are for $5 million over five years.
Radar detectors of the future will warn motorists of road construction, approaching emergency vehicles, wrecks ahead and other potential hazards, with the application of technology being developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
"The next generation of radar detectors will have the capability to display safety warning messages to motorists," says principal research associate Gene Greneker. "We are developing a communications standard for the manufacturers sponsoring this study through the industry group RADAR. They will use the standard in manufacturing the next generation of radar detector warning systems."
RADAR is a trade association representing the radar detector industry with participation by Bel-Tronics, Sanyo-Tecnica, Uniden, Whistler and other radar system manufacturers.
Rob Pauley (left), Dr. Gene Greneker (center) and Bruce Warren (right) examine a radar detector. They are investigating how to send encoded signals that detectors would decode and convert into traffic hazard warnings for drivers.
Greneker and colleagues Rob Pauley and Bruce Warren are investigating the optimum way to send encoded signals to radar detectors so they not only pick up the signals, but also decode them and display a warning to the driver. The warning will correspond to the hazard the signals indicate, such as a wreck or road construction, Greneker says.
With the development of this technology, police and other traffic safety agencies could put portable transmitter systems along roads to transmit the necessary safety warning messages to radar detectors in approaching vehicles. One of numerous safety messages could be selected for transmission by the warning transmitter.
The technology is being developed so that it will cause the current generation of detectors to alarm, as well. An estimated 10 to 20 million detectors are in use now, Greneker says.
"We are depending on those existing radar receiver systems, too, to slow traffic approaching highway work zones, emergency vehicle right-of-ways, and rail crossings during a train's approach," Greneker says. "While motorists using a present generation detector and approaching a safety alert area will not know why their detectors are alarming, they will know to slow down a proceed with caution -- and this achieves our objective."
The project maintains liaison with the Federal Communications Commission regarding the authorization of the system to operate in the 24 GHz part of the radio spectrum.
In the future, the system may undergo testing by departments of transportation in several states.
Located in Metz, the capital of northeastern France's Lorraine Region in the heart of Europe, Georgia Tech Lorraine is the first full-fledged graduate engineering program offered by any American university in Europe. It was founded in 1989 to provide graduate education, sponsored research and continuing education to European and North American students. Georgia Tech Lorraine is organized as a nonprofit organization operating under French law.
Current degree programs are offered in electrical engineering, but later will be broadened to include management, as well as other engineering and scientific disciplines.Sponsored research focuses on opportunities of special interest to the European community. Present research activities are oriented toward the telecommunication and related industries and involve digital signal processing, with special emphasis on image and speech processing; telecommunications systems and technology; and systems theory.
Dr. Ben T. Zinn is Georgia Tech's most recent recipient of one of the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer--election to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Zinn is a Regents' Professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering, with a joint appointment in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. He holds the David S. Lewis Jr. Chair.
NAE membership honors those who have made "important contributions to engineering theory and practice, including significant contributions to the literature of engineering theory and practice," and those who have demonstrated "unusual accomplishment in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology," according to NAE. Zinn, the co-holder of seven patents in the field of pulse combustion, is recognized for contributions to understanding unsteady combustion processes.
Dr. Ben T. Zinn (left), recently named a member of the National Academy of Engineering is recognized for contributions to understanding unsteady combustion processes.
"I was surprised and thrilled to get this award," said Zinn. "It would not have been possible without the support of Georgia Tech and the contributions of my colleagues and students."
Zinn came to Tech in 1965 after completing his Ph.D. studies in aeronautical engineering and mechanical science at Princeton University. He attained the rank of Regents' Professor in 1973. His fields of research have included liquid and rocket combustion instabilities, ramjet and jet engine combustion instabilities, oscillatory flame phenomena reacting flows, soot formation, acoustics of complex geometries, wave propagation in nozzles and pulse combustion.
Zinn's election brings Georgia Tech's total of active NAE members to 12, giving the Institute "more active members than the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and Purdue University," said Tech Executive Vice President Mike Thomas.
The hallmark of the NAE's 1,800 members and foreign associates is personal engineering achievement. Members are elected by their peers and drawn from all engineering disciplines; they include leading engineers from industry, academia, government and other institutions.
The National Academy of Engineering was founded in 1964 to advance engineering and technology. It conducts its activities jointly with the National Academy of Sciences. The NAE is a private, independent nonprofit institution that serves the nation in two broad ways. It acts as adviser to the federal government, and, through its independent programs, it provides a channel for the advancement of engineering and technology as benefits humanity.
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