Population Health

June 25, 2019

Initiative and CoMotion co-fund grant to treat pediatric hydrocephalus

Image of baby being examined by a physicianThe Population Health Initiative and CoMotion have announced the joint award of a Population Health Innovation Fund grant of $50,000 to Jason Hauptman, UW assistant professor of Neurological Surgery, and Pierre Mourad, UW professor of Neurological Surgery and UW Bothell professor of Engineering and Mathematics, for their project, “Non-invasive ultrasonic clearing of implanted catheters.”

This award is intended to fund a research project that simultaneously supports the University of Washington’s vision for population health while also fulfilling the CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund’s goal of enabling research that will achieve sustainable commercial or societal impact.

Professors Hauptman and Mourad’s project aims to solve a painful, life-threatening condition associated with treating hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain. Hydrocephalus largely affects infants and children and is treated by implanting a shunt into the fluid-filled center of the brain to divert the flow of fluid into another area of the body where it can be absorbed as part of the normal circulatory process.

However, children experience excruciating headaches, vomiting, neurological symptoms and eventually coma or death if the catheters that form part of the shunt become obstructed and no action is taken. Currently, the only possible action is to surgically remove and replace the shunts, which is both traumatic for children and expensive for the healthcare system.

As an alternative, Professors Hauptman and Mourad will develop and test a non-invasive transducer of focused ultrasound that will generate a force within the catheter to “push” out the debris causing the obstruction. If successful, the Population Health Innovation Fund grant will enable the team to not only develop the technology, but also to explore how to make it broadly available to vulnerable children and potentially other affected patient populations.

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