Massachusetts Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund Grants Awarded to Three Northeastern Researchers

We are very pleased to announce that three Northeastern researchers were recently awarded Massachusetts Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund grants. As only nine grants were awarded in the entire state, this is a great showing for Northeastern! The projects include a novel ankle trainer, a multi-modal system that allows the detection of breast cancer dramatically earlier, and a platform that takes the Internet of Things (IoT) one step farther – an Internet-of-Medical Things. We are excited to share the details.

Professor Sheng-Che Yen, Bouve College of Health Sciences

“Virtually-Interfaced Robotic Ankle and Balance Trainer (vi-RABT)”

Anyone who has ever sprained an ankle knows that ankle dysfunction is a major public health concern. This project tests a Virtually-Interfaced Robotic Ankle and Balance Trainer (vi-RABT) in patients. vi-RABT is an all-in-one system developed for ankle rehabilitation. It can assess muscle strength, range of motion and motor control, then offers muscle strengthening, mobility and motor control exercises. The system’s gaming interface makes ankle rehabilitation more interactive and engaging. The unit is portable and its ease of use makes it ideal for home use. The grant will allow Professor Yen to test the system in two populations: patients with chronic ankle instability (recurrent ankle sprain) and those post stroke. Ultimately, the project helps pursue markets such as clinics, hospitals, in-home therapy, and sports facilities.

Professor Jose Angel Martinez-Lorenzo, College of Engineering

“Preliminary clinical data collection of a fused multimodal DBT, NRI and Ultrasonic system for early breast cancer detection.”

It is very difficult for current technologies to detect tumors surrounded by fibro-glandular tissue in dense breasts.  Near-Field Radar Imaging (NRI) or 3D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), when used separately, often fail to detect such tumors. This project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a microwave mechatronic system, used simultaneously with an X-ray-based DBT system. Another ultrasonic probe (US) may also be added in order to enhance the overall system performance. Professor Martinez-Lorenzo is partnering with Massachusetts General Hospital and industry leader HXI LLC.

Professor Tommaso Melodia, College of Engineering

“Toward Connected Health for Implants Through an Ultrasonic Internet-of-Medical Things Platform”

This project represents a significant advance on Internet of Things (IoT) technology – a second-generation prototype of an intra-body wireless network of medical implants. These implants will use ultrasonic waves to communicate with each other and the “outside world.” The prototype will enable Professor Melodia to collect evidence on the value and performance of the ultrasonic networking technology in a variety of realistic settings, for example, different body tissues.

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