CMU, Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network Announce Second Round of Funding for Disruptive Health Technology Institute Projects

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Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network today announced a second round of funded CMU projects poised to ‘disrupt’ health care by identifying key unmet clinical needs and addressing them with advanced medical technologies. $1.7 million was awarded to projects ranging from managing chronic wound healing to reducing toxic side effects of anticancer drugs.

“Carnegie Mellon is at the center of the confluence of data analytics, machine learning, science and engineering. We are leveraging that expertise towards health care applications" said Dr. Alan Russell.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network today announced a second round of funded CMU projects poised to ‘disrupt’ health care by identifying key unmet clinical needs and addressing them with advanced medical technologies. $1.7 million was awarded to projects ranging from managing chronic wound healing to reducing toxic side effects of anticancer drugs.

“Carnegie Mellon is at the center of the confluence of data analytics, machine learning, science and engineering. We are leveraging that expertise towards health care applications,” said Alan Russell, Ph.D., director of Carnegie Mellon’s Disruptive Health Technology Institute (DHTI) and Chief Innovation Officer for Allegheny Health Network.

“The DHTI payer-provider-innovator infrastructure that we have created is essential in pushing innovative technology off the bench for deployable solutions,” said Russell. “Involving the payer community and their expertise, at the beginning, in the innovation process is at the heart of helping drive innovation more quickly toward patient care.”

Insurance companies are key stakeholders in the health care industry, but they have not generally participated in proactive research and innovation in order to simultaneously increase the affordability, simplicity, and accessibility of healthcare.

“Highmark Health is uniquely positioned to develop and provide access to technologies and programs that promote more effective and efficient solutions to our members’ healthcare needs,” said David Holmberg, president and CEO of Highmark Health. “The goal when forming DHTI was to establish an industry-leading collaborative effort that allows the payer, innovators, and clinicians to work together to create breakthrough health care solutions that reinforce our mission to deliver health care at the right time, at the right place and at the right cost.”

Of 16 funded DHTI projects this year, seven major initiatives will receive at least $100K, including:

  • A method of increasing efficacy and reducing side effects of nanotechnology-based anti-cancer drugs. Principal Investigator (PI): Chien Ho, Department of Biological Sciences.
  • A microscopic RFID device that reduces the amount of counterfeit drugs from entering the legitimate supply chain. PI: Larry Richard (Rick) Carley, Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • Improved detection techniques of early stage melanoma lesions. PI: Mahadev Satyanarayanan, Computer Science.
  • Automated methods to monitor and coach asthma patients using metered dose inhalers, empowering the patient with more control over their disease. PI: Alexander Hauptmann, School of Computer Science.
  • A technique for detecting the formation of biofilms on medical implants, which can lead to infection. PI: Jeffrey Weldon, Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • A robotic table to aid in orthopedic surgeries. PI: Eric Meyhofer, National Robotics Engineering Center.
  • A cost-effective, sensitive, and easy-to-use palpation tool to improve self-breast cancer screenings. PI: James F. Antaki, Biomedical Engineering.

In November 2013, the DHTI funded its first round of projects ranging from video analytic tools for colonoscopies to a vest-like heart monitor that detects and diagnoses heart problems (http://www.dhti.cmu.edu/dhti/projects.asp).

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About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon (http://www.cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 12,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon's main campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California's Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico.

About the Disruptive Health Technology Institute: After a $2.5 million grant from the Heinz Endowments; Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Highmark Health, and Allegheny Health Network have created the Disruptive Health Technology Institute (DHTI), a multi-year $11 million initiative aimed at increasing the affordability, simplicity, and accessibility of healthcare. DHTI operates under the College of Engineering’s Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES), and provides an environment where healthcare innovations can be clinically tested and rapidly delivered to patients. CMU researchers are leading the development of engineering, science, biomedical, and healthcare delivery technologies with new institute colleagues. DHTI is currently focusing on accessibility of medical diagnostics, behavior change, chronic disease management, data mining, improved endoscopy, improved diagnostic ultrasound, and infection prevention. DHTI funds projects that can impact a large population, provide substantial healthcare savings, and have likely success in improving patient safety and quality of life.

About Highmark Health: Highmark Health, a Pittsburgh, PA based enterprise that employs more than 35,000 people nationwide and serves nearly 39 million Americans in more than 40 states, is the third largest integrated health care delivery and financing network in the nation. Highmark Health is the parent company of Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and HM Health Solutions. Highmark Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates provide health insurance to 5.2 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware as well as dental insurance, vision care and related health products through a national network of diversified businesses that include United Concordia Companies, HM Insurance Group, Davis Vision and Visionworks. Allegheny Health Network is the parent company of an integrated delivery network that includes eight hospitals, a community-based network of physician organizations, and a group purchasing organization, ambulatory surgery centers, and health and wellness pavilions in western Pennsylvania. HM Health Solutions focuses on meeting the information technology platform and other business needs of the Highmark Health enterprise as well as unaffiliated health insurance plans by providing proven business processes, expert knowledge and integrated cloud-based platforms. To learn more, please visit http://www.highmarkhealth.org.

Contacts:

Daniel Tkacik, CMU                        
412-268-1187                        
dtkacik(at)andrew.cmu(dot)edu

Lynn Seay, Highmark Health
412.544.2771
lynn.seay(at)highmarkhealth(dot)org

Dan Laurent, AHN
412-330-4430
dlaurent(at)wpahs(dot)org

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Dan Laurent