This INSPIRE award brings together research areas traditionally supported by: the Biophotonics and Nanobiosensing Programs in the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems Division (CBET) of the Engineering Directorate (ENG); the Communications, Circuits and Sensing Systems Program in the Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems Division (ECCS) of the ENG Directorate; the Science, Technology and Society Program in the Social and Economical Sciences Division of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE); and the Smart Health and Wellbeing Program in the Information and Intelligent Systems Division (IIS) of the Computer & Information Science Engineering Directorate (CISE).
Significance The science and technology enabled by the Public Health, Nanotechnology and Mobility (PHeNoM) project may ultimately lead to widespread access to health information obtainable from lab-on-chip technology. This research project could alter the domestic healthcare landscape by enabling earlier-stage detection of disease, reducing the cost of public healthcare delivery, and allowing individuals to take better control of their own well-being. Such advances require the integration of the social and technical contexts of health care device deployment. This integration is accomplished by gathering feedback on early versions of the technology and modifying future designs based on that initial feedback. Iterations between feedback and design are facilitated by research efforts that interpret the feedback and guide the development process. The ultimate transfer of the technology to the marketplace is enabled by a new education effort that involves a unique combination of coursework, business plan development, pre-seed grant workshops, and collaborations with existing start-ups in the mobile health space.
Advancements in nanotechnology and microfluidics have enabled the development of lab-on-chip devices that can detect and quantify protein, genetic, and other biochemical markers of diseases with precision. Currently-available personalized diagnostic devices are limited to conditions that require either frequent monitoring (e.g. glucose for diabetics) or "binary" results (e.g. pregnancy). The goals of the PHeNoM program are to demonstrate that deployment of lab-on-chip technology can be fundamentally altered by taking advantage of ubiquitous smartphone technology and show that the fusion of physical sensing and molecular assays on mobile platforms enable healthcare diagnostics that are more informative than either technology alone.
To meet these aims, the investigators are focusing their efforts on developing and deploying three systems that may have an immediate impact on advancing personalized healthcare in the United States: a Stress-Phone for long term stress management, a Nutri-Phone for bloodwork-enabled nutritional awareness, and a Hema-Phone for monitoring viral loading in HIV+ patients. Beyond the immediate merits of these technologies, the broader merit of this project is the demonstration of new "bioinfo-mobile" diagnostics that intertwine the advantages of mobility, computation, physical sensing, and biomolecular assays.