Mentor: Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D. | bruce.tromberg@nih.gov
Mentor: Tim Quang, Ph.D. | timothy.quang@nih.gov
Mentor: Brian Hill | brian.hill@nih.gov
Lab: Section on Biomedical Optics

Development of point-of-care, biomedical optics technologies to non-invasively characterize tissue hemodynamics

The focus of our group is to develop biomedical optics technologies that non-invasively characterize tissue hemodynamics, including tissue composition, blood flow, and metabolic rate of oxygen consumption. To date, our group has translated these technologies into several clinical studies which include sickle cell disease, pediatric sleep apnea, monogenic vascular diseases, and pre-eclampsia. Within these patient cohorts, we apply these techniques to a range of applications such as identifying disease states based on changes in tissue composition/metabolism or monitoring changes in tissue hemodynamics in response to therapeutic intervention. 

Broadly, the student will assist in the testing and development of new optical imaging devices and the characterization of device performance with data acquired in the NIH clinical center. During the summer, the student will:

  1. Contribute to the development and testing of in vitro models that simulate physiological processes such as tissue oxygen consumption or blood coagulation
  2. Participate in the collection of clinical data from patients with sickle cell disease or monogenic vascular diseases
  3. Perform data analysis to quantify tissue hemodynamic data from various clinical cohorts  

Throughout these projects, students will receive mentorship and gain experience with optical instrumentation design, data analysis techniques (MATLAB, Python), and translational clinical research. Students will also interact with both engineers and clinicians as they take various optical technologies from the laboratory to the clinic. 

The student should have an interest in biomedical engineering, device development, and clinical translation. Ideally, the student would have some experience with computer programming (MATLAB, Python). 

Specific projects may include:

  1. Blood coagulation in sickle cell disease

    Underpinned by emerging results from our sickle cell disease clinical study, the student will lead the development of an in vitro model of blood coagulation. They will manufacture and characterize a blood flow model and establish a blood de-oxygenation protocol. The student will then implement their model in a study to assess how our clinical measurements may relate to deoxygenation and coagulation of sickled hemoglobin. 
     
  2. The effect of melanin on measurements of tissue hemodynamics

    The student will design and develop an in vitro model of skin of varying melanin levels. They will then deploy these models in studies to help elucidate the effect that melanin has on measurements of tissue hemodynamics and blood flow based on spectroscopic techniques.
     
  3. Analysis of clinical study data

    We are actively gathering data from several ongoing clinical studies. Although the student would have freedom to follow their own interests, one potential data analysis project is as follows.

    Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a gold-standard measure of arterial stiffness which requires specialized training to carry out. The student would analyze data comparing PWV to speckle-plethysmography (SPG) signals (a measure of blood flow) from a wearable device. We hope to establish whether there is a statistically significant difference between the SPG data of healthy patients and a disease cohort and whether SPG could be a useful alternative technology to PVW.

 

Intern Name: Emily Yu
Institution: Ohio State University
Project Title: Deciphering Blood Flow with Speckle Plethysmography (SPG): Finger Phantoms to Clinical Applications