July 2010

Fearnot Receives AAMI Laufman-Greatbatch Prize
Neal Fearnot, a Purdue Biomedical Engineering alum, has been selected by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation to receive their top honor, the Laufman-Greatbatch Prize.
Fearnot, who studied under the late Professor Les Geddes at Purdue, received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1975, his Master's degree in 1978, and his PhD in 1980. He is currently Chairman of the Board for MED Institute, which was founded in 1983 as a resource for Cook Group companies to identify, research and develop medical products and concepts. He is also a vice president of Cook Group, Inc., where he helps guide regulatory submissions worldwide.

His nomination was submitted by Professor Willis Tacker Jr., another collaborator with Dr. Geddes, who is currently a Professor of Basic Medical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at Purdue, and a leading expert on defibrillation. Tacker, who received the award in 2007, nominated Fearnot specifically for his creativity and leadership in the medical device industry. Fearnot holds 65 U.S. and foreign patents, among them the first exercise-responsive pacemaker and the first hand-held electrocardiogram - both developed at Purdue.

The Laufman-Greatbatch Prize was first awarded in 1975 and named for Harold Laufman, MD and Wilson Greatbatch, PhD, two of the most renowned leaders and pioneers in the medical device field. The Prize honors an individual or group that has made a significant, singular, and global impact on the advancement of patient care or patient safety through the advancement, development, enhancement, or creation of a specific medical device, instrument, or service. This award is regarded as the pinnacle of all AAMI awards and exemplifies the achievements of Drs. Laufman and Greatbatch.  Professor Geddes received the honor in 1987.

Student Profile: Feng Lin
Feng Lin, recent graduate from the Weldon School, shares with us for our Student Profiles series. Lin studied under Professor Mark Lawley in the area of Healthcare Engineering and has accepted a prestigious fellowship with the CDC in Atlanta. Before beginning her new endeavor, she took a few moments to speak with us about her work and her future.

Where are you from?

Xiamen, Fujian Province, China
Where and what did you study in Undergrad?
BS, Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 1999-2003
Why did you choose a career in biomedical engineering?
My interest in healthcare system engineering (especially public health) originated from collaboration experiences with the Indiana State Department of Health. I have worked closely with the health departments, hospitals, and emergency management agencies to assess, coordinate, and facilitate pandemic preparedness. From these experiences, I gained a true appreciation of the public health mission and a great admiration for the inspiring people working on public health. I began to realize that public health decision makers need better decision support for allocating scarce resources more effectively. I saw this need as a huge opportunity, so I decided to focus my research on public health decision modeling.
Although healthcare engineering might be a very new area in BME, I believe that I have wonderful opportunities to collaborate with people in medicine, medical devices, and biology. I can broaden my view by learning from other researchers with various expertise. I have also seen many promising applications of optimization and mathematical programming in BME.
Please tell us about your research.
My research interests lie in employing the methodologies of operations research, systems engineering, and applied mathematics to facilitate and improve decision making in health care systems, with special emphasis in public health. In my dissertation research, I have concentrated on problems in pandemic planning and long-term care. In pandemic planning, I developed an optimal control model to develop optimal triggers for non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) with the objective of minimizing expected lost from influenza related deaths and NPI implementation. In long-term care planning, I applied optimal control to determine budgetary allocation and care provision for elderly Medicaid beneficiaries. An optimization model was developed to determine optimal capacity of community-based services, with the objective of minimizing total LTC expenditure.
What are your hobbies and interests?
[I enjoy] reading, tennis, movies, and photography. I'm also a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE).
What do you think is your defining trait?
I am hard-working and persistent once I make up my mind to achieve a goal. I believe I am a sweet and considerate person. I received a letter of commendation from the State Health Commissioner, Dr. Judith Monroe, in 2006, for my important contributions to public health in the state of Indiana. In 2008, I was recognized as one of the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE) Graduate Research Scholar.
What are your goals after graduation?
I would like to continue my research efforts in public health and health care system engineering. My career goal is to become an expert in health care decision analysis by applying various quantitative methodologies to facilitate and improve decision making in healthcare systems.
We heard that you are headed to the CDC in Atlanta. Congratulations! Can you share a little about what you will be doing there?
I received the CDC Steven M. Teutsch Prevention Effectiveness Fellowship. This is a 2-yr research fellowship for recent doctoral graduates with a background in economics, policy analysis, operations research, decision sciences, and other quantitative areas. I will work for Quantitative Sciences and Data Management Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP). The mission of the Division is to prevent HIV infection in the United States and reduce the incidence of HIV-related illness and death, in collaboration with community, state, national and international partners.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Beside academic reputation, Purdue BME is indeed a wonderful place for young people who enjoy research challenge and have great satisfaction when solving important problems. I have got wonderful support from all the people at BME since the first day when I joined BME. The [faculty] are knowledgeable and nice, the staff is extremely friendly, and the atmosphere is great.
Feng, thank you for taking the time to share with us. You have described the field of Healthcare Engineering quite well, and are already proving to be a leader in your field. We look forward to watching your career blossom. Congratulations and best of luck in all that you do.
Professor Cheng Granted Coulter Translational Research Award
Weldon Professor Ji-Xin Cheng has been notified that he has been selected for a Phase I Coulter Translational Research Award.

The decision was the result of an application first submitted by Cheng in December last year as an abstract and followed with a full application in March of this year. His project, entitled "A Micelle Approach to Early Nerve Repair after Spinal Cord Injury" was selected by a prestigious committee of reviewers consisting of venture capitalists, industry representatives, clinicians and experts in technology transfer. 

As part of the award, the Foundation hosts an annual Coulter College in Ft. Lauderdale each year. Professor Cheng will attend for dinner with the Foundation followed the next day by a presentation of his project to the Foundation and its advisors in a 30 minute meeting. Cheng's clinical co-investigator on the project will be graduate student Xiao-Ming Xu.

The Coulter Translational Research Awards program provides funding for Assistant Professors in established Biomedical Engineering Departments within the United States. The award seeks to support biomedical research that is translational in nature, and to encourage and assist eligible biomedical engineering investigators to establish themselves in academic careers involving translational research. The translational research projects are directed at promising technologies with the goal of progressing toward commercial development and entering clinical practice.

Two Weldon Faculty Selected for 2010 Showalter Awards
Professors Kinam Park and Kevin Otto were each notified that one of their research projects has been selected to receive funding from the Showalter Trust for 2010-2011. Professor Park is being tapped for his work, entitled "Microcapsules for Long-Term Protein Delivery". Professor Otto's collaboration with Purdue Professors Joe Garner of Animal Science and Jessica Huber of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, involves creating a model of pre-diagnosis cognitive symptoms in Parkinson's Disease.

These Projects were each chosen by the Showalter Selection Committee for support through a highly competitive selection process.  Proposals for funding from the Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Research Trust are first reviewed by an internal selection committee at Purdue. The Committee is appointed on an annual basis by the Associate Vice President for research and is comprised of distinguished faculty representing individual academic units within the Purdue system. The committee then selects the most meritorious pre-proposals for development of full proposals which are then forwarded to the Showalter Trustees. The Showalter Trustees make the final selection of projects to be funded.

Since 1975, Purdue has received research funding through grants made possible from the Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Research Trust Fund. The areas of research eligible for funding, as described by the benefactors, are:

  • Air and water pollution research
  • Research in the field of biochemistry
  • Research for the control and prevention of disease
  • Research for development of new technologies in food production
  • Research in medical and biophysical instrumentation, including the adaptation of the modern computer in the measurement of biological processes, in the collection, recording, analysis, and interpretation of data.


Student Profile: Jonathan Bernhard
We continue our series focusing on students of the Weldon School. Jonathan Bernhard is a recent graduate from the Weldon undergraduate program.

Where are you from?
Born and raised a Boilermaker, I was weaned on Gene Keady basketball, Rube Goldberg projects, and rigorous academic pursuit right here in West Lafayette, Indiana.

What are your hobbies/interests?
Competition: [I enjoy] anything that will test my abilities and challenge me to improve.
Soccer: I absolutely enjoy playing, coaching, and watching soccer.  There is no better way to spend an autumn Saturday then with a game of soccer.
Reading: Reading historical documents concerning world conflicts has always fascinated me, but I also like to get lost in good fictional stories. 

What do you hope to do once you graduate?
I am currently enrolled in the 5th year Master of Science program within the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.  I am investigating novel approaches for repair and rehabilitation of damaged cartilage.  Upon completion of my Master's degree, I hope to retain employment in a research and development branch of a major medical device company.  I would like to eventually return to school and receive a doctorate in biomedical engineering, but I would first like to gain experience in the business world. 

Tell me how you spent last summer, specifically about your AxoGen Nerve Regeneration Internship.
I spent the past summer in Gainesville, Florida amongst all the Gators.  I worked as a marketing intern for the biomedical startup company AxoGen.  AxoGen has developed innovative technology that is able to repair peripheral nerves after injury.  As the marketing intern, I was able to see how companies inform and market the specific aspects the engineers’ design.  It will be very beneficial in my future endeavors because I now have a complete understanding of the process from design to sell. 
In addition, I really enjoyed working for a recently started company.  I was able to have personal conversations with all of the management team, and was allowed to ask lots of questions concerning the process of starting a company and specific challenges managers encounter.  The thought of being an entrepreneur has always interested me, and this opportunity allowed me to learn from successful entrepreneurs. 

Tell me about your current involvement on Purdue’s campus.
My involvement at Purdue University has allowed me to meet a variety of different people, and the chance to make an impact in others’ lives.  I am currently involved with a Campus Crusade for Christ Bible study; I am a trip leader for the medical brigade trip to Quito, Ecuador with the Timmy Foundation; and I am an ambassador for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.
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.