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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Pranoti Hiremath, Bioengineering, 2010-11 WRFF/Space Grant

Pranoti HiremathInitially, an innate interest in the nature of living things brought me to research within the UW Department of Bioengineering.  Research in the areas of vascular calcification and drug delivery served as a foundation for subsequent research experiences.  However, my research direction changed after introduction to the exciting area of biomedical instrumentation, and after firsthand exposure to bioengineering needs through volunteering at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Currently, I perform clinical and translational research in Dr. Peter Richardson's lab at Seattle Children's Research Institute.  With the group, I design and test creative engineering solutions for specific clinical needs, including neonatal ventilation and thoracic insufficiency syndrome.  My project involves working with engineers skilled in implanting designs and with clinicians who understand patient need.

In addition to research, I am interested in global development and the contribution of bioengineering to global health needs.  To this end, I am involved in leadership of Bioengineers Without Borders, a student group whose goal is to develop and deploy innovative medical diagnostics for use in developing nations.  In summer 2010, through a medical internship with Child Family Health International in India, I performed research on the Indian health care system with an emphasis on the role of medical technologies.

After graduating, I plan to pursue an MD, and aim to perform clinical research through a career in academic medicine.

Mentor: Peter Richardson, Pediatrics and Seattle Childrens Hospital Research Institute

Project Title: Noninvasive Expansion System for the Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib: A surgical tool for improving treatment of Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome

Abstract: Thoracic insufficiency syndrome (TIS) describes congenital and developmental spine and chest wall disorders that produce respiratory restrictive disease, which severely limits normal respiration. TIS manifests primarily in young children, who may experience lung and heart failure in the absence of treatment. Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) expansion thoracoplasty surgeries are designed to address volume-depletion deformities caused by TIS. However, the VEPTR device requires recurrent manual surgical intervention in order to expand with patient growth; the surgical constraints carry high risk and subject the patient to great physical and psychological stresses. I propose to design a noninvasive expansion system for the VEPTR that allows full functionality in 'ITS treatment but limits the requirement for invasive expansion of the device. The device must permit continuous or noninvasive expansion, retain durability throughout the treatment, limit fretting at tissue-metal interfaces, and pass biocompatibility and device insertion standards. The project will begin with a computational model for the proposed design solution, to be tested in silica, and will extend into development of a physical prototype. The final prototype will be evaluated through testing with physical simulation of physiological forces.