February 2010

Two Purdue Biomedical Engineering Alums to be Inducted as AIMBE Fellows
Two Purdue Biomedical Engineering Alums, Dr. Peter E. Konrad and Dr. William J. Link, have been selected for induction in the AIMBE College of Fellows.

Pete Konrad is the Director of Functional Neurosurgery and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His participation as the neurosurgeon on a multidisciplinary treatment and research team has had an incredible impact on improvements in deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a treatment for neurodegenerative symptoms such as rigidity, tremor, and dyskinesia. DBS provides patients with an implanted system that delivers controlled electric stimulation to the brain to reduce the impulse toward involuntary movements. His advances in electrode placement have drastically reduced operating time (critical for patients who must remain awake). His development of a technique to stimulate and record excitable tissue from the same site by using a thermal-pulsed laser has eliminated troublesome stimulus artifacts. He received his BA from Rockford College in 1983, MS and PhD from the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1985 and 1988, respectively, and his MD degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1991. He currently serves on the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering's Advisory Board.

Bill Link, founder of Versant Ventures, received his bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue. His election to the College of Fellows was based on his successful technology development in ophthalmology, and his leadership in medical technology entrepreneurship. At Versant Ventures, Dr. Link specializes in early-stage investing in medical devices. He currently manages over $1 billion in committed capital, invested in 65 companies in the medical device, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, healthcare services, and healthcare information technology sectors. Prior to co-founding Versant, he was a general partner at Brentwood Venture Capital. He has a proven record of building and operating large, successful medical product companies. With extensive knowledge of medical devices, particularly in ophthalmology, his operating experience spans more than 23 years in general management in the healthcare industry. Before entering the healthcare industry, Dr. Link was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He also serves on the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering's Advisory Board.

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) was founded in 1991 to establish a clear and comprehensive identity for the field of medical and biological engineering - which is the bridge between the principles of engineering science and practice, and the problems and issues of biological and medical science and practice. It is based in Washington, D.C. The College of Fellows is made up of 1,000 individuals who are the outstanding bioengineers in academia, industry and government. These leaders in the field have distinguished themselves through their contributions in research, industrial practice and/or education.

Weldon Researchers Collaborate to Benefit Parkinson's Patients
Kirk Foster and Jim Jones, veterans of the Weldon research staff, as well as Professor George Wodicka, and graduate students Matias Zanartu and Julio Ho have successfully collaborated with Jessica Huber, Associate Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Purdue to make an impact in speech therapy for Parkinson's patients.

Parkinson's patients commonly have voice and speech problems which manifest in a tendency to speak too quietly. The team has developed a new technology that helps Parkinson's patients overcome this tendency by playing a recording of ambient sound, which resembles the noisy chatter of a restaurant full of patrons. This ambient sound  (or "multitalker babble noise") elicits a well-known phenomenon called the Lombard effect - a reflex in which people automatically speak louder in the presence of background sound.

The collaborative team has created, built and is currently testing a voice-activated device that automatically senses when the patient begins to speak, and plays the background babble through an earpiece. The voice-detection sensor, which is placed on the neck, is a key component of the device. It was developed by Wodicka, Zanartu and Ho, and built by Jones and Foster. The original test group consisted of six patients, who wore the device for eight weeks. Based on the data collected, the group has expanded to include patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Indianapolis.

Further research, under the direction of Professor Huber, will determine whether the device is an effective training tool, enabling patients to speak louder even when they are not wearing the device. Also, the system might be further developed to use rechargeable batteries. The research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health. Purdue has filed a provisional patent on the concept.

To participate in future studies, or for additional information, contact Professor Huber at 765-494-3796 or jhuber@purdue.edu


Weldon Graduate Students Receive Honors
This fall, three Weldon graduate students were honored at their professional conferences for their work. Matias Zanartu received the Best Student Paper Award in Speech Communication at the Acoustical Society of America Meeting in Portland for the poster entitled "An impedance-based inverse filtering scheme with glottal coupling." Eric Chow was awarded the third place student paper award at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium in Boston, MA for his work, entitled "High Frequency Transcutaneous Transmission using Stents Configured as a Dipole Radiator for Cardiovascular Implantable Devices." Maia Donahue was awarded an Honorable Mention Graduate Student Research Award at the 2009 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting. Her award-winning presentation in Pittsburgh was on experiment design through dynamical characterization of systems biology models utilizing sparse grids.

Zañartu's poster was presented in the special session on source-filter interactions in biological sound production. The paper was co-authored by Julio Ho from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University, Daryush Mehta from MIT-Harvard, Robert Hillman from MGH/MIT-Harvard, and Professor George Wodicka, also of the Weldon School. The project is part of the collaboration between the Wodicka laboratory and Professor Robert Hillman, Research Director of the Center for Laryngeal Surgery & Voice Rehabilitation at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. His current research interests include biomedical acoustics, speech production, acoustic phonetics, and auditory and speech signal processing.

Chow is co-advised by Professors Pedro P. Irazoqui and William J. Chappell. His latest work enables the continuous tracking of pulmonary arterial pressure to help in the diagnosis of heart failure.  The system consists of a miniature cardiac pressure sensor and wireless transmitter that has been integrated with an FDA-approved medical stent. This platform provides efficient data transfer from a device that can be implanted in nearly any vessel or body conduit. Chow and collaborator, student Brooke Beier, have shown that a stent can be used as an antenna for both wireless telemetry and power transfer between an attached miniaturized electronic system. This takes advantage of the maturity of stent technology while using stents as radiating antennas. Intended uses include implantable monitors designed to measure blood pressure, flow parameters, and chemistry, and requires only a minimally invasive outpatient procedure.

Donahue's research at Purdue, where she received her PhD degree in December 2009, was focused on the modeling and control of cellular processes using the human T cell, a key component of the immune system. Her award-winning work was done in conjunction with Professor Ann Rundell of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and Greg Buzzard, Department of Mathematics. Today Maia works for Dow AgriSciences near Indianapolis, IN.

Please join us as we celebrate these students.

Student Profile: Andrew Peabody
Andrew Peabody, Weldon Class of 2010, has been helping the Weldon Development offices this year. Andrew will be contributing interviews and articles to the Weldon news in the near future, but first, we thought you should get to know him.

Where are you from?
I am from the south side of Indianapolis in Greenwood, IN and have lived there my entire life. Home of the Woodmen.

What are your hobbies/interests?
• Playing golf and watching golf. I always enjoy the Masters and Tiger's Sunday red.
• Anything outdoors. Boating, camping, and fishing are great ways to get away and relax.
• I like to learn new things. Random facts on the Discovery channel, newspaper articles, but most of all, people teach me all kinds of things.

What do you hope to do once you graduate?

I am currently seeking employment in research or manufacturing with a major medical device company that is committed first and foremost to quality. In order for a device to truly serve and help patients, it must demonstrate quality by working properly and administering treatment each and every time it is called upon. I hope to work for a company that is dedicated to its patients and doctors, willing to invest in new technologies, and one that endorses leadership development in a professional environment.

Tell me how you spent your summer, specifically about your Boston Scientific Internship.

This past summer I ventured up to St. Paul, MN to work for Boston Scientific’s Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) group. There I was able to work on a variety of pacemaker projects to improve device quality and product yields. I worked for one of CRM’s manufacturing groups, which allowed me to interact with not only engineers, but also management, technician support, and operators on the manufacturing floor.

At CRM I was able to work with some of the top talent in the industry. It was very empowering and humbling to come into work each day, knowing that the devices I was working on directly affect real people and real families by allowing them to move past their illnesses and get back to the things they enjoy most in life.

Tell me about your current involvement on Purdue's campus.

Campus leadership has been one of the highlights of my Purdue experience, allowing me to network with new people and give back to the University that has already given me so much. I am currently a member of the 2009-2010 class of Mortar Board, President of my fraternity, Kappa Sigma, a member of the Purdue Foundation Student Board, and a Biomedical Engineering Ambassador.

Direct Analysis of Blood Technology Featured
Zheng Ouyang and collaborators' work on direct analysis of whole blood is featured on the inside cover of Angewandte Chemie International Edition. The team uses wet filter paper and a novel technique for analysis using mass spectrometry. Samples can be pre-loaded to the paper and can range from whole blood to surface contaminates, showing promise for both security applications and in-situ analysis. Their study has resulted in a method that is useful for fast, qualitative, and quantitative analysis of complex mixtures. The entire article, "Paper Spray for Direct Analysis of Complex Mixtures Using Mass Spectrometry" by He Wang, Jianjian Liu, R. Graham Cooks and Zheng Ouyang is available at: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2009, 49, Issue 5, Pages 877 - 880.
This is your newsletter! Please let us know of your accomplishments, as well as your ideas to help us improve the publication. As always, we welcome you to join us as we advance both higher education and the medical device and biotechnology fields. If you are interested in learning more about the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, please contact Julia Colby, our Manager of Development Operations, at colbyjm@purdue.edu. We would like to learn about you, answer your questions, and schedule a visit.