iTHRIV announces recipients of health research pilot projects

The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) hub partnership between Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, Carilion Clinic, and Inova Health System has awarded $200,000 in funding to five research projects through the Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies Program.

Multi-institutional teams of scientists, physicians, and engineers will study Parkinson's disease, celiac disease, pediatric heart transplant, pediatric telemedicine, and epilepsy.

Locally, the CTSA partners administer the grants through the integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV). iTHRIV is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, through award number UL1TR003015.

The awarded pilot projects include:

Studying auditory therapy for Parkinson's disease

Della Williams, a neurologist at Carilion Clinic and an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and Sujith Vijayan, an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech College of Science's School of Neuroscience, are studying if patients with Parkinson's disease can benefit from background noise during sleep.

Integrating augmented reality to improve pediatric telemedicine

Elham Morshedzadeh, an assistant professor of industrial design in Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies; Andre Muelenaer, a professor of practice in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, a professor of pediatrics for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and a pediatric pulmonologist at Carilion; and Melinda Schriver, Carilion's director of digital health, are designing a robust and affordable training program to help improve telemedicine encounters for infants and pre-school children.

Measuring medication in patients with epilepsy

Aashit Shah, Carilion's chief of neurology and a professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and Sujith Vijayan will analyze intracranial electrical signals in epilepsy patients to help identity which brain regions are affected by certain neuroactive drugs.

Searching for genetic markers for celiac disease with machine learning

Sana Syed, an assistant professor in the UVA School of Medicine's department of pediatrics, and Suchitra Hourigan, Inova Children's Hospital's vice chair of research and innovation, are studying gut tissue biopsies and genetic markers from patients diagnosed with celiac disease, to assess the risk of these patients developing other diseases, including type 1 diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Defining donor characteristics for pediatric heart transplants

Heart transplantation is the standard of care for pediatric patients with end-stage heart failure or inoperable congenital defects, yet nearly 20 percent of patients with these conditions die while on the waitlist.

To help increase the odds of successful pediatric heart transplants, Michael McCulloch, an associate professor and a pediatric cardiologist at UVA Children's Hospital Heart Center, and Michael Porter, an associate professor of systems engineering in UVA's School of Engineering and Applied Science, will analyze donor echocardiographic data to identify which donor characteristics contribute to positive heart transplant recipient outcomes.

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