Event Date: April 7, 2017
[Speaker: Scott Weber] So starting us off will be Phil Schneider and Phil is going to talk about tests phantom fingers for higher biometric security. His faculty advisor is Dr. Kwang Oh, in the Department of Electrical Engineering. A few fun facts about Phil is he has a cotton candy machine in his lab, which he says he only uses for research, which I'm very happy to hear. [laughing] He's a level 32 in Pokemon, #TeamMystic, and he is a New York Prosperity, WNY Prosperity fellow. So ready, set, pitch!
[Speaker: Phil Schneider] Think of a human behavioral or physical characteristic. This could be anything from an eye skin, to the way you talk, to a fingerprint. Or behavioral, how you walk or do you have an accent? We use biometrics in the world all around us today, whether you're traveling across the country and you have a passport that has your biometric. Maybe you're entering in your cell phone and using your fingerprint that is also biometric.
What if I told you though that your biometric may not be that safe? What if I told you that if you were to give me your cell phone, I could lift a finger print from your screen mold a finger around that phone and get right back into your cell phone. I'd have access to your emails, your contacts, your text messages, Apple pay, Google pay, maybe even a bank account. This happens. This is easy to do. Hackers do it, terrorists do it and PhD electrical engineers can do it.
This is a problem that industry has been trying to solve and it's costing them millions of dollars, and it's a problem that my research is trying to solve. I create what are called test phantom fingers, and they're essentially replicas of human fingers that recreate the physiological structures inside. My hope with my research is to measure sub-dermally or within the finger to use that as a biometric.
So, inside the finger we have things like flowing blood, we have things like arteries and veins. I work with company’s fingerprint sensors to calibrate their system to image sub-dermalIy. I give them my test phantom and they'd image it and they recognize whether they're doing well from a system performance or poorly.
My test phantom finger has to be physiological, accurate right? So, I have arteries, veins, fat, muscles, skin, I have fingerprints, I put bone in there, blood that flows through, it has a heart rate to it. It also has a capillary network and when I say capillary network, I want you to think about a very small fluidic network at the tip of your finger, how small roughly a hundredth of the size of a human hair, just enough for a blood cell to flow through. How do we recreate that? Cotton candy turns out the sugar strands of cotton candy, the fibers are the same size as a capillary network, so I'm utilizing cotton candy in my research to recreate that capillary network, to create a really realistic test phantom for these companies to test on.
My hope for this research to create a more secure biometric imaging sub dermally to protect both your data, as well as my data, and with that thank you.
[Speaker: Scott Weber] I just can't resist I think Phil when you ever say I'm going to give him the finger it's going to mean a quite different thing now. [Laughter.] I just couldn't resist.
PhD Program: Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Kwang Oh
Biography: Philip Schneider, co-founder, president and chief technology officer of La Salle Concepts, is currently pursuing his PhD in electrical engineering at the University at Buffalo. As a member of the University's Sensor and Micro-actuators Learning Lab, his current research includes the development of new health care related wearable technologies for point of care applications, the use of biometric technologies in the mobile consumer market and the creation of state-of-the-art test phantoms for medical sensor testing and validation.
Schneider has a true passion for bringing STEM to the local community. He is the founder of Project FIS, an ongoing effort to inspire and motivate underrepresented students in the field of STEM through hands on, high energy, interactive science experiments. In addition, he mentors a FIRST Robotics team at Saint Joseph's Collegiate Institute and is part of the Westminster Charter School initiative, where he teaches science classes to Kindergarden through second graders. He aspires to be a successful business owner bridging his backgrounds in science and technology with his business acumen to directly contribute to the economic resurgence in the Western New York region.
[Speaker: Scott Weber] Our next presenter is Danielle Twum. Her title is "Switch Cancer Off." Her major advisor is Scott Abrams. The department is microbiology and immunology. She believes that sushi is the essential, I think, element for graduate persistence as are pound cakes and podcasts. Double Ps. Ready, set, pitch.
[Speaker: Danielle Twum] What if you could switch cancer off? In order to do this, you would have to employ the greatest army alive, our immune systems. This is because in this army there are soldier cells called macrophages that can be trained to wage war on parasites or to keep peace. This ability of macrophages to switch between these two sides, is possible due to the manipulation of internal switches called transcription factors. During illness you want macrophages to wage war not keep peace, yet in cancer this is not so. Why does this happen?
We think that even though the immune system sends war waging macrophages to the cancer. Through some seduction routine their switches get jimmied resulting in the cancer spreading, which is what kills most patients. So how do we interrupt this seduction routine? Go for the war waging switches of course.
I study one of such war waging switches called interferon regulatory factor 8 or IRF8. IRF8 is critical in the arsenal for war waging macrophages. So, we ask the question. What if we switched IRF8 on and kept it on? And I'm talking about very, very high levels on, flaming bright.
To do this, we created a mouse, where IRF8 was switched on in the macrophages all the time, versus a mouse where IRF8 was switched off completely in the macrophages and then we asked. Does the cancer spread more, or does it spread less? As you can see from here, when the IRF8 switch is off. The cancer spreads from the breast to the lungs significantly. Resulting in this sad mouse that eventually dies. However, when IRF8 is turned on and kept on to very, very high levels. The cancer spreads less from the breast to the lungs resulting in this happy mouse and this mouse surviving. What does this mean for the patient? It gives us a target. It gives us something, a starting point. Where we can start to intervene with therapy, that will eliminate over treatment of patients. It gives us something tangible that we can finally use to switch cancer off. Thank you.
[Speaker: Scott Weber] Thank You Danielle.
PhD Program: Microbiology and Immunology (Roswell Park)
Advisor: Scott Abrams
Biography: Danielle Twum, originally from Ghana, West Africa, is currently a graduate student studying the immune response in cancer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Danielle received her Bachelor of Arts in biology from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, where she studied the effect of climate change on corals. After her she completes her PhD, Danielle is hoping to bring science to the general public by coming up with more exciting ways to explain complex scientific concepts in order to demystify the mysteries that surround science and make it more approachable to the layperson.
[Speaker: Scott Weber] Our next presenter is Hooman Ansari, whose title is “Pacemaker Energy Harvester.” His advisor is Dr. Amin Karami in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He loves turtles or maybe he only likes them. I don't know. He used to play table tennis professionally. I've got to find out more about that. He's cracked his head three times. So, with that all said, ready, set, pitch!
[Speaker: Hooman Ansari] Hi everyone. Today I'm going to talk about energy harvesting for pacemakers. But before I start, I'm going to ask you two questions. So, by raise of hand how many of you know what a pacemaker is or have some idea about pacemakers? Good, and the second question is how many of you have pacemakers or know somebody who uses pacemaker in their body? Cool.
OK so for those of you who might not be familiar with the subject, pacemaker is a device, implantable biomedical device, that is implanted inside the body of the patients who have a heart problem such as arrhythmia. It helps them to have a better life. About three million people worldwide, they use pacemakers and placing new pacemaker inside the body of the patients.
From this number about one-third, which is 200,000 surgeries, is for replacing the old pacemakers and now you might wonder why such a sophisticated device need replacing. And the answer is with your battery. Like any other devices that depends on battery after a while the battery dies out. And the patient needs to do a surgery.
This time varies from seven to twelve years depending on the activity of the patient and the age of the patient. The surgery, the new surgery is costly and also has its own risk. The cost of the surgery is between $20,000 to $90,000 and also the risk that is associated with the surgery includes heart infection. Which is a serious problem for old people.
So now the solution that I've been looking into for the last three years for my PhD is an energy harvester. Our energy harvester is going to replace the battery inside the pacemaker, is going to get the vibration from the heart and converts to the electricity needed for the pacemaker. So, by doing so the patient doesn't need to do a new surgery since, our device is self-charging. Our device is a small and also is more compatible which means that the patient can do MRIs while he has this device inside the body.
During my PhD time I've published several journal papers and conference papers and our team has two patents on this subject. Last summer, with the collaboration of University of Michigan we did the first animal tests on the energy harvester while we attached the energy harvester to a heart of a sheep and hopefully in the future, near future, we're going to have our energy harvester inside the commercial pacemakers in the market. Thank you guys for listening.
[Speaker: Scott Weber] Thank you, Hooman.
PhD Program: Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: M. Amin Karami
Biography: Mohammad Hossein ("Hooman") Ansari, originally from Iran, is a PhD candidate in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, with research interests in vibration and energy harvesting. He earned his master's degree from UB in 2017 and is expected to graduate from the PhD program in June, 2018. He has worked on shoe energy harvesters and pacemaker energy harvesters as part of his research, where he has two patents. He is currently working on finishing his PhD and increasing his publications. He plans to start his own company in the future.
[Speaker: Scott Weber] Our next presenter is Saeede Eftekhari and her title is "Less Pain, Lower Costs by Health Information Sharing." Her faculty advisor is Professor Ram Ramesh in the Department of Management Science and Systems. She's fulfilled a childhood dream by visiting Niagara Falls and loves Wegmans and art museums. I love the juxtaposition. Ready, set, pitch!
[Speaker: Saeede Eftekhari] Hello everybody. Imagine that you don't feel well today. You go to see a doctor and the doctor simply orders a blood test to decide about your medical condition. You may say, “wait a moment I took that test recently, I don't want to take it again” but, you know if the results of your previous test is not available, so you have to take it again. Can you guess how many of the medical services are unnecessary and just because of the missing information? It's a lot. In the United States almost 30 percent of the healthcare annual cost. These repetitions of course are risky and costly for the patients, and costly for the health care system to overcome.
This issue, a managerial program called health information exchanges has been implemented in the U.S. health care system since 2008. How does this program work? In this program all patient's medical information, from any point of care, such as insurance information, lab test results, physician record, hospital records, and prescription information are securely safe as electronic medical records. When a patient is visiting a doctor, given the patient consent, the doctor can access the patient's medical information whenever it's needed. What are then the benefits of this program? Here is where my research begins. This information sharing program helps doctors to make more informed decision about the patient condition, diagnose better and perform less repetition of medical procedures for their patients. In my research, by analyzing the data on more than 3,000 physicians, I found that physicians who use this program perform less duplication of medical procedures when patient visited the office and it does, we found that this information sharing program leads to delivering more efficient health care services by medical providers and most importantly this program leads to less pain, less risk and lower costs for the patients. Thank you very much.
[Speaker: Scott Weber] Thank you Saeede.
PhD Program: Management Science and Systems
Advisor: Ramaswamy Ramesh
Biography: Saeede Eftekhari is a PhD candidate in UB's Management Science and Systems program. She has particular interests in health care analytics and the economics of health information technologies. Her dissertation is focused on examining the impact of the health information technologies implemented in the U.S. health care system on the quality and cost of medical care. She earned a master's degree and a BSc in industrial engineering from Isfahan University of Technology, Iran. In addition to research, she enjoys teaching.