Texas MRC Research Projects


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a public health concern. Unfortunately, the primary means of treatment, Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy, is met with high rates of poor adherence in part attributed to side effects. Air flow leak (leak), one of the most frequent side effects that has not been addressed in treatment programs, directly impacts the effectiveness of PAP therapy and continued use. The research team will develop a novel universal device that will measure leak and provide real-time feedback to users in order to increase adherence.

Brandy M. Roane, Ph.D., CBSM, UNTHSC
Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
Eileen Clements, Ph.D. UTARI
Sherif Al-Farra, MD, DABSM, UNTHSC

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The overall goal of this project aims to convert a bulky and high-cost optical sensing system used in a scientific research lab into an ultra-compact portable optical sensing device that can report wound healing in real-life clinical setting. Our central hypothesis is that by integrating state-of-art nanophotonic membrane device technology, robust fluorescent and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) signals of dye and metal nanoparticles, and smart shape memory polymer materials, the interdisciplinary team can develop a cost-effective and highly flexible non-invasive optical SMART (Sensing, Monitoring, And Release of Therapeutics) bandage system which can monitor and cure diseases in real time. In this project, we will demonstrate an application of this SMART bandage in chemical sensing microenvironment of complex wounds (pH) and quantitatively reports tissue perfusion for optimizing wound healing.

With the proposed SMART bandage system, we can provide caregivers with a continuous, quantitative read-out of treatment response and wound healing. The system developed here should lead to an even broader area of applications, including wearable healthcare networks, Internet of things (IoT), biomedical sensing, and bio-integrated, bio-implantable electronic systems for targeted cell sensing, imaging, and controlled/targeted therapeutic release/curing of vulnerable tissues.

Weidong Zhou, Ph.D. UTA
Professor – Electrical Engineering
Yaowu Hao, Ph.D. UTA
Jie Zheng, Ph.D. UTD
Walter Voit, Ph.D. UTD
F. Jon Senkowsky, MD, FACS, THR

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Hydrocephalus, or water in the head, is a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. This causes increased intracranial pressure inside the skull and may cause progressive enlargement of the head if it occurs in childhood, resulting in convulsions, tunnel vision, and mental disability. Present treatment for the hydrocephalic condition utilizes some type of a cerebral shunt. Specifically it involves the placement of a ventricular catheter (an elastomeric tube often of silicone), into the cerebral ventricles to bypass the flow obstruction/malfunctioning arachnoidal granulations and drain the excess fluid into other body cavities, from where it can be resorbed. Typically the catheter terminates in a valve which opens when some preset pressure is reached. However, experience indicates that there is considerable hysteresis and/or irreproducibilities in the precise pressure at which the valve opens. The valve provides a prophylactic measure to any backflow and prevents CSF drainage at a more rapid rate than it is produced.

Although a shunt (by this term we include both the catheter and the valve) generally works well initially, it stops working if it disconnects, becomes blocked (clogged), infected, or is outgrown. If this happens the cerebrospinal fluid will begin to accumulate again and a number of physical symptoms may develop that may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, photophobia/light hypersensitivity, etc. In extreme cases violent seizures may ensue. The shunt failure rate is 39% within one year and 53% within 2 years in pediatric neurosurgery, following initial shunt placement. On average 75,000 shunt operations are performed annually in the United States, the majority in infants/children. A reliable, cost- efficient straightforward method to detect proper operation will ease the life of a large number of patients and reduce health care costs. In this proposed project an interdisciplinary team of scientists from UTA will collaborate with neurosurgeons from UNTHSC to develop a novel implantable in-line shunt flow monitoring microsystem that can deliver both on-demand and potentially continuous quantitative readings of the CSF flow in the drain tube.

Purnendu Dasgupta, Ph.D. UTA
Jenkins Garrett Professor – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Albert H. Yurvait, DO, FACOS, FICS, FAHA, UNTHSC
Anthony Lee, MD, FACS, UNTHSC
Aditya Das, Ph.D. UTARI

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This proposal is focusing on development of a portable, feedback controlled, programmable hand rehabilitation unit for continuous passive motion (CPM) and active resistive motion (ARM) with capabilities of recording the range of motion and stiffens of finger joints. Initial focus is to apply the devise for with neurologically impaired hands. About 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year and 30% to 66% of all stroke survivors have impaired hand functions. Robotic rehabilitation devices have been investigated to perform exercises to recover lost functions and have shown promising preliminary results. However, a device that can perform CPM for opening and closing the hand, operating with adjustable force and speed of movement, and control over individual joints is not commercially available. UTARI has developed a soft robotic hand rehabilitation prototype that can provide the requirements for CPM therapy. The research proposed here aims to investigate the dynamic interaction between the hand and the prototype, improve the prototypes for clinical testing, and evaluate safety, comfort, and efficacy through a small scale pilot study. The impacts of a portable, lightweight, and adaptable device for directed hand therapy are far reaching. Through our proposed work we will develop and validate a device with these capabilities and direct feedback to the user indicating joint position. Hand therapy is an expensive and specific service that is not available to all patients where device based therapy could revolutionize standard care of hand rehabilitation.

Muthu Wijesundara, Ph.D. UTA
Nicoleta Bugnariu, PT, Ph.D. UNTHSC
Timothy Niacaris, MD, Ph.D. UNTHSC
Rita Patterson, Ph.D. UNTHSC

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Infectious diseases continue to pose a major threat to worldwide human health and lead to significant morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs. Among them, rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea disease in newborns and young children worldwide with approximately 300,000 pre-adolescent deaths each year. Rapid diagnosis is critical for early and accurate treatment, as well as initiation and reduction of transmission which eventually reduces hospital stays, antibiotic over-prescription, and taxing limited laboratory resources. Current diagnostic methods are either slow (viral culture, PCR), or lack sufficient sensitivity (e.g. rapid diagnostic tests). The goal of this project is to develop rapid and ultrasensitive diagnostic tests with potential to replace current viral culture and PCR based laboratory tests.

Zhenpeng Qin, Ph.D. UTD
Assistant Professor – Mechanical Engineering
Michael R. Roner, Ph.D. UTA
Diane Frawley, THR

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Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood glucose levels and is one of the most challenging global health problems with high human, social, and economic costs. Persistent or frequent hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) leads to serious complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, eye disease, and nervous system disease. To achieve their target glycemic levels, diabetic patients rely on self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG); they measure the instantaneous levels of blood glucose using a finger-prick glucose meter (typically, 3 to 10 times daily). However, even patients with well-controlled diabetes who measure blood glucose several times daily often experience hyperglycemia after meals and hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) at night. Because the level of blood glucose fluctuates throughout the day, effective management of diabetes requires real-time monitoring of blood glucose (less than 10 minutes per measurement), or continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). Current CGM technologies, however, do not meet the demand. State-of-the-art commercial CGM devices have lifetimes of only 5 to 7 days and require frequent recalibration. Other emerging technologies are in development but still fall short. To overcome this challenge, we propose to develop a fully implantable, completely passive, patient-friendly single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT)-based near-infrared (NIR) optical glucose sensor for long-term continuous glucose monitoring (CGM).

Kyungsuk Yum, Ph.D. UTA
Assistant Professor – Materials Science and Engineering
A. Dean Sherry, Ph.D. UTD


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