Current Medical Technology and Device Research

Principal Investigator: Shivang Dave, CEO

Research: Objective refraction with self-operable, lightweight autorefractor

Company: PlenOptika
Start date: May 1, 2019
End date: April 30, 2020
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS) 

Project: Over a billion people worldwide suffer from poor vision because they do not have adequate access to eye care professionals who can prescribe affordable eyeglasses. To meet this need, PlenOptika developed QuickSee, a portable, durable, low cost, yet highly accurate binocular autorefractor to quickly measure refractive errors and to monitor changes over time, making effective prescriptions easier to obtain. PlenOptika is planning a lighter model to make QuickSee easier to use for children and elderly patients, and other design advancements for faster and more reliable measurements.

PlenOptika designs innovative technologies to improve vision care globally. Their flagship device the QuickSee™ Wavefront Refractor was born at MIT, incubated at Harvard and Boston University, and raised around the world to meet high standards of vision and health care professionals under both rigorous clinical and demanding global health conditions. QuickSee’s accuracy has been published in peer-reviewed journals, it has earned international recognition and awards, and it is currently in use by private and nonprofit healthcare organizations internationally. www.plenoptika.com

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Principal Investigator: Luc Gervais, Ph.D.

Research: Miniaturized Diagnostics Platform for Health Assessment in Deep Space

Company: 1Drop Diagnostics
Start date: Sept. 1, 2018
End date: Aug. 31, 2019
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: Current diagnostic tests used in healthcare settings are typically performed in a centralized laboratory. 1Drop Diagnostics is developing a point-of-care diagnostics device that can perform sensitive, specific, and rapid detection of multiple blood-based biomarkers. The device is small, portable, and easy-to-use allowing astronauts to perform important health assessments during space travel.

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Principal Investigator: Mehdi Javanmard, President

Research: The Cytotracker: Point-of-use Complete Blood Count

Company: Rizlab Health Inc.
Start date: May 1, 2019
End date: April 30, 2020
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: A complete blood count measures the number of different types of cells, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, in the blood. It is one of the most commonly performed laboratory tests in healthcare to monitor overall well-being and disease status. Current methods to obtain accurate blood counts require venous blood draws by a healthcare professional and utilize several different methods for counting and do not have the form factor necessary for operation by astronauts in space. Rizlab is developing a portable analyzer that combines unique and multiple sensors and methods for testing and provides rapid results that are simpler and less expensive than current testing methods. Their system will use a small amount of blood, which can be obtained from a finger prick, allowing use outside typical healthcare settings. The goal of this project is to build an analyzer that has the form factor and interface suitable for use in a space shuttle and extreme space environment.

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Principal Investigator: Matthew Johnson, Ph.D.

Research: Intelligent Assistance for Accurate and Reliable Lymphatic Data Collection

Institution: Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, Fla.
Start Date: 
March 1, 2019
End Date: Feb. 29, 2020
TRISH Synergy Project: PI Dawn Kernagis
Study Type: Ground Study

NASA Risk Addressed: HSID

Major Aim of Project: To use machine learning techniques to provide user feedback about the usefulness and quality of the data being collected in terms of accurately measuring lymphatic function (PI Dawn Kernagis) in order to improve lymphatic function measurement.

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Principal Investigator: Dina Katabi, President

Research: Non-contact sleep, vitals, and behavior sensing

Company: Emerald Innovations Inc. 
Start date: May 1, 2019
End date: April 30, 2020
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: The Emerald device wirelessly analyzes radio signals to evaluate movement, breathing, sleep, and other behavior without the need to wear a device. It has been used in controlled environments such as laboratories and clinics, where the information was shown to be applicable to patient health outcomes. Emerald Innovations proposed to extend use of this device to a person’s natural living environment. To do so, the system must 1) collect, analyze, and store information continuously and reliably; 2) maintain user profiles to monitor changes; and 3) allow access to the stored information in a way that is easy to understand. When presented in a meaningful way, this information can guide user actions to improve health. 

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Principal Investigator: Dawn Kernagis, Ph.D.

Research: Cervical lymphatic function quantification and associated molecular changes in response to simulated microgravity

Institution: Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, Fla.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: March 31, 2020
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grants
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS)

Project: Low levels of gravity (zero gravity) has physiological effects on many different systems in astronauts.  For example, astronauts exposed to long durations of zero gravity develop visual changes and signs of increased intracranial pressure.  Cerebrospinal fluid may drain into the lymphatic system to help regulate cranial pressure; however, zero gravity may affect this drainage.  Dr. Kernagis proposed to evaluate a new lymphatic imaging device paired with a diagnostic tool to measure lymphatic function through biomarkers. The aims are to determine if there are problems associated with lymphatic draining in microgravity.

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Principal Investigator: Ryo Kubota, M.D., Ph.D.

Research: Create a Proof of Concept Device for a Compact Multi-VCSEL SweptSource-OCT Including Associated Signal Analysis Algorithms, andData Review Software for Deep Space Missions

Institution: Kubota Pharmaceuticals
Start Date: March 1, 2019
End Date: Feb. 29, 2020
Study Type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS) 

Project: Acucela is developing unique, self-testing, compact, vision diagnostic equipment that can be used in the space program and for in-home monitoring of eye diseases and overall eye-health, providing eye doctors ongoing valuable treatment information while saving astronauts’ time and complexity as well as providing superior care for patients while saving them time and money. Acucela is developing a unique Swept Source OCT (SS-OCT) employing a distinctive light source in combination with proprietary laser technology. A swept source OCT modulates the wavelength of a laser to achieve greater OCT resolution. This device will allow NASA to replace the current off-the-shelf OCT device(s) on the ISS with a more compact, easier to use self-testing device that is radiation hardened and allows lower bandwidth when transmitting health data back to earth. This increases practicality for smaller spacecraft as well and improves image quality received from astronauts in-flight.

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Principal Investigator: Bob Main, CEO

Research: Development of a Goggle-Based Visual Field Device Prototype

Institution: Web Vision Centers Group, LLC
Start Date:
 April 1, 2018
End Date: March 31, 2020
Study Type: Ground study
NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS) 

Project: Space travel causes changes in an astronaut’s vision, including changing the shape of the eyes. This project will develop a prototype of a novel, ultra-small visual fields device that will be goggle shaped for the purposes of conducting visual fields (VF) testing of astronauts in-flight.  This device (based on NASA’s specifications) is intended to detect, monitor progression, and guide medical intervention of severe SANS cases during long duration space missions.

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Research: Create the Technical Requirements, Strategic Roadmap, and Financial Requirements to Develop a Multifunction Ophthalmic Device for Comprehensive Ophthalmic Vision Testing on Deep Space Missions

Institution: Web Vision Centers Group, LLC
Start Date:
 Aug. 1, 2018
End Date: July 31, 2019 
Study Type: Ground study
NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS) 

Project: Astronauts experience changes in their vision and eyes during space missions.  Web Vision has proposed developing a compact, comprehensive Multifunctional Ophthalmic (all-in-one) vision testing Device (MOD) to be used during extended space missions to deliver a comprehensive eye health assessment of the astronauts. This MOD will include vision testing functionalities such as retinal imaging, visual-fields, OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography), and Visual Acuity assessment, all inside of one compact device.

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Research: Development of Advanced Vision Testing Software for a Goggle-Based Visual Field Device Prototype

Institution: Web Vision Centers Group, LLC
Start Date: Aug. 1, 2018
End Date: March 31, 2020 
Study Type: Ground study
NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS) 

Project: During space missions, particularly after spending long periods in space, astronauts develop changes in their vision.  In a different project, Web Vision is developing a small, portable, hand-held goggle-based device that can perform visual tests and measure vision changes during space travel.  This proposal is to develop advanced vision testing capabilities (software) that will be used in that Goggle-Based Visual Fields device. This project will add four additional vison tests to the GBVF device: 1) kinetic papillary detection, 2) panoramic visual field, 3) contrast sensitivity testing, and 4) advanced version of the Ishihara color test.

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Principal Investigator: Jayant Menon, M.D.

Research: Autonomous Medical Response Agent (AMRA)

Company: Nahlia
Start date: Sept. 1, 2018
End date: Aug. 31, 2019
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: During deep space exploration missions Astronaut crews will not have real-time access to expert physicians. Astronauts will need to diagnose, treat, and manage their own medical issues independently from Earth physicians. When a problem occurs, the Autonomous Medical Response Agent first guides Astronauts through a personalized health history, physical examination, and laboratory assessment. AMRA then recommends the best treatments available on board by combining the unique characteristics of each astronaut with high quality medical evidence.  Astronauts will be free to choose which treatment based on their desired outcome. AMRA will guide Astronauts through their chosen treatment, and the measured result is used to guide the next decision. AMRA continues in this way until the Astronaut is healed, or comes home. AMRA is based on internationally utilized medical coding that will allow highly accurate, low-bandwidth communication with mission control and can integrate with earth based EMR's to help Astronauts stay healthy beyond the mission.  

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Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Palaima, Principle Scientist

Research: Room Temperature Stable Basic Metabolic Panel

Company: Ativa Medical
Start date: May 1, 2019
End date: April 30, 2020
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: Current methods for basic laboratory blood tests require a trained healthcare professional to draw blood using supplies that need refrigeration or may not have a long shelf-life. Ativa proposed to develop an easy-to-use basic metabolic panel test with 2-year shelf life and no need for refrigeration. Their system uses an electrosensor to analyze a small blood sample taken from a finger or heel prick, thereby eliminating the need for a trained phlebotomist to draw a blood sample. Test results are displayed on a touch-screen interface, both numerically and graphically, allowing non-experts to understand their own diagnostic results.

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Principal Investigator: Arthur Papier, M.D.

Research: VisualDx Clinical Decision Support for Ultrasound

Company: VisualDX
Start date: April 1, 2019
End date: March 31, 2020
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: AI-machine learning image based analysis is poised to transform the interpretation of radiologic, pathologic, ophthalmologic and dermatologic imagery.  Comprehensive integration of machine learning image analysis with clinical decision support fills a need in exam rooms around the world.  Furthermore, there is tremendous need for health information technology in rural and developing nations with limited network access.  There is also limited clinical access to specialists in emerging markets.   Our project with NASA will allow standalone access of our product globally thereby addressing these needs. 

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Principal Investigator: Arthur Papier, M.D.

Research: VisualDx Augmented Intelligence Project

Company: VisualDX
Start date: Sept. 1, 2018
End date: Aug. 31, 2019
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: Space travel presents unique challenges to healthcare, including the potential need for non-healthcare professionals to provide medical care.  VisualDX has combined machine learning with clinical data to allow non-healthcare professionals to diagnose certain conditions.  Dr. Papier proposed to expand the VisualDXsystem to include an Android version of the software that does not require internet access to use.  This system could be used by astronauts during space travel to diagnose health conditions that may arise. 

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Principal Investigator: Gary Riccio, Ph.D.

Research: Translational Research for Autonomous Care Coordination (TRACC)

Institution: Nascent Science & Technology
Start Date: 
March 1, 2019
End Date: Feb. 29, 2020
TRISH Synergy Project: PI Jayant Menon
Study Type: Ground Study

NASA Risk Addressed: HSID

Major Aim of Project: To provide human factors augmentation for an Autonomous Medical Response Agent (PI Jayant Menon) by assessing consequences that medical conditions have for resilience of exploration capabilities as well as the health hazards imposed by those capabilities.

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Principal Investigator: Ashot Sargsyan, M.D., RDMS, RVT

Research: Multipurpose ultra-portable ultrasound imager with artificial intelligence (AI) capability

Institution: KBRWyle, Houston, Texas

Start Date: June 1, 2018
End Date: May 31, 2019
Study Type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: The goal of this project is to conduct ground-based and International Space Station (ISS) in-flight evaluation of new solid state ultrasound transducer technology with integrated artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in order to validate their operational usability in continuous microgravity and their innovation potential for operational medical support across all phases of ISS missions. This technology has high potential for valuable contributions to human health and performance capability maturation, in alignment with NASA’s capability-based development goals.

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Principal Investigator: Tasneem Sharma, Ph.D.

Research: The Ex-vivo Human Translaminar Autonomous System to Study SANS Pathogenesis

Institution: University of North Texas, Fort Worth, Texas
Start date: June 1, 2019
End date: May 31, 2020
Grant Mechanism: Focused Investigation Project
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS)

Problem Addressed: Astronauts exposed to long-duration missions experience fluid shifting from the legs to the head due to microgravity. Some astronauts will experience intracranial pressure changes, which could impact their vision or cause other negative health effects. This project will use a human ex-vivo model to better understand the 3D element and cell types in the posterior eye cup, creating a retinal and optic nerve scaffold to study SANS.

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Principal Investigator: Anup Dutt Sharma, Ph.D.

Research: Establish the feasibility of engineering a human optic-nerve-on-a-chip as an in vitro model for SANS research

Institution: AxoSim, Inc.
Start date: June 1, 2019
End date: May 31, 2020
Grant Mechanism: Focused Investigation Project
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS)

Problem Addressed: Astronauts exposed to long-duration missions experience fluid shifting from the legs to the head due to microgravity. Some astronauts will experience intracranial pressure changes, which could impact their vision or cause other negative health effects. This project will develop inducible pluripotent stem cells to build on optic-nerve-chip to study if this tissue plays a role in SANS.

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Principal Investigator: Jessica Marquez, Ph.D.

Research: Design of “Autonomous Medical Response Assistant” Interface Prototype for Long Duration Spaceflight

Institution: NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, Calif.
Start Date: 
March 1, 2019
End Date: Feb. 29, 2020
TRISH Synergy Project: Jayant Menon, M.D.
Study Type: Ground Study

NASA Risk Addressed: HSID

Major Aim of Project: This project aims to develop a user-centered research and design process to define the needs of crewmembers interacting with an “Autonomous Medical Response Assistant (Dr. Menon’s project)” in long duration spaceflight. The human-centered design augmentation research will entail: domain-specific and analogous research in medical care, interaction design of a screen interface, prototype usability testing and evaluation.

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Principal Investigator: Anup Singh, Co-founder & Chief Science Officer

Research: InnaMed TeleLab Platform

Company: InnaMed, Inc.
Start date: April 1, 2019
End date: March 31, 2020
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Medical

Project: InnaMed proposed developing TeleLab®, a smart, portable device that can test small molecule and protein biomarkers using a small (microneedle) amount of blood in the point-of-care or home settings. The platform uses published, patented electrochemical and DNA-based technologies to remotely monitor conditions such as heart failure and organ transplants and delivers cloud-based results to clinicians for therapy adjustment. This technology allows follow-up testing in a patient’s home rather than at a clinic visit, saving time and cost while improving the monitoring of chronic diseases.

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Principal Investigator: Lihong Wang, Ph.D.

Research: Label-free photoacoustic lymphatic flowgraphy in simulated microgravity

Institution: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2019
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS)

Project: Exposure to zero gravity causes physiological changes in astronauts, including eye and vision changes theorized to be caused by head-ward shift of bodily fluids. Of the body fluids that shift in the head, lymphatic fluid is difficult to image and measure typically requiring the use of contrast dyes, which must be administered in a typical healthcare setting. However, this is not feasible for space travel.  Dr. Wang proposed to develop a system to image lymphatic flow without dyes, using photoacoustic imaging, which could be used during space travel.  This system would allow monitoring of astronauts’ lymphatic fluid flow during space travel to determine its effects on astronauts’ eyes and vision.

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