The proposed project involves the development of mathematical tools for modeling and control of a complex system consisting of a physiological component (the heart) and an electromechanical component known as a Left-Ventricular Assist Device (or LVAD). An LVAD is a mechanical device whose purpose is to assist the heart of patients with congestive heart failure waiting for heart transplantation. An important engineering challenge facing the increased use of these devices is the development of an appropriate controller that can automatically adjust the rotational speed of the device to meet the circulatory demand of the patient. Such a controller, in addition to being robust and reliable, must be able to adapt to the daily activities and physiological changes of the patient. In this project, we propose to investigate theoretical and fundamental issues associated with the development of such a controller.
Intellectual merit: The proposed research, which is highly interdisciplinary in nature, will increase our understanding of fundamental technical issues related to the modeling and control of this non-conventional nonlinear time-varying system which involves interactions between a physiological component (the heart) and an electromechanical device (the LVAD). The development of the necessary theory and mathematical tools will enable us to understand how to effectively control such a complex system as well as other types of similarly complex systems.
Broader impact: The impact of the proposed research will primarily be in improving the quality of life for patients with end-stage congestive heart failure awaiting heart transplantation. Any improvement in the existing technology of LVAD control will have a tremendous effect on the physical condition and ultimately the recovery of patients suffering from this heart disease. Another important impact of this project is in educating and training engineering students, including female and minority students, to work together as a team on a highly interdisciplinary and challenging project.