Vanderbilt researchers receive 2023 Incyte Ingenuity Award

Audrey Bowden

A team of Vanderbilt researchers has been chosen to receive the 2023 Incyte Ingenuity Awards in graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The award program aims to support the U.S. GVHD community by funding two innovative initiatives annually that address specific needs of people impacted by GVHD, including patients and their providers. The other award recipient was Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute of Health Professions.

Vanderbilt University, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Dermatology, plans to leverage modern image processing technology and machine learning for its Smart Help for GVHD Assessment and Tracking project to develop an app that can convert conventional smartphone images into ones that accurately detect and quantify erythema, an abnormal redness of the skin that can be a biomarker for mortality in patients with chronic GVHD, in a range of skin types. The app would allow patients to effectively track their disease and detect changes in a remote setting.

Eric Tkaczyk

Audrey Bowden, Dorothy J. Wingfield Phillips Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow and associate professor of biomedical and electrical engineering at Vanderbilt, is the project’s principal investigator. She said erythema occurs in more than 75% of patients with chronic GVHD.

“We propose to develop a smartphone app for patient use that will enable remote capture of skin-affected areas for automated analysis and tracking of BSA (body surface area) by expert clinicians who are typically hundreds of miles from the transplant patient’s home,” said Bowden, who will be working with Erik Tkaczyk, assistant professor of medicine (dermatology) and biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt.

Last year, Bowden won a grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to develop a novel noninvasive smartphone-integrated device to provide accurate, point-of-care detection of jaundice in newborns of all skin tones.

Incyte is a Wilmington, Delaware-based, global biopharmaceutical company focused on finding solutions for serious unmet medical needs through the discovery, development and commercialization of proprietary therapeutics.

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