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Research team invited to present at NIH institute’s 10th anniversary technology showcase


Vanderbilt University researchers were one of nine teams invited to participate in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering’s (NIBIB) tenth anniversary technology showcase June 22 in Bethesda, Maryland. NIBIB is an institute within the

National Institutes of Health

The showcase was an interactive, hands-on demonstration of promising, cutting-edge NIBIB-supported research projects. Also on June 22, the NIBIB held a day-long symposium on emerging developments at the nexus of science, engineering and health care. The symposium featured a slate of speakers, including Nobel Laureates, industry leaders, patients and other distinguished professionals.

Three engineering researchers represented the Vanderbilt team at the technology showcase and demonstrated their project, Cranial Vault and its CRAVE tools: A Clinical Computer Assistance System for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Therapy. They are the team’s principal investigator Benoit Dawant, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, professor of electrical engineering and director of the Vanderbilt Initiative in Surgery and Engineering (ViSE); Pierre-Francois D’Haese, research assistant professor, electrical engineering and computer science; and Srivatsan Pallavaram, research associate, electrical engineering and computer science.

Other research team members are Peter Konrad, associate professor, neurosurgery department, and director of Functional Neurological Surgery; Chris Kao, research associate professor, neurosurgery department; Joseph Neimat, assistant professor, neurosurgery department; Thomas L. Davis, professor, Neuro-movement Disorders Division; Fenna Phibbs, assistant professor, Neuro-movement Disorders Division; and Rui Li, staff engineer, electrical engineering and computer science.

Symposium speakers included Nobel Laureates Phillip A. Sharp, MIT, and Roger Y. Tsien, University of California-San Diego; and National Medal of Science Laureates Shu Chien, University of California-San Diego; Francis Collins, NIH Director; and Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Vanderbilt research team has developed a suite of software that allows surgeons to centralize the data and provide assistance at all three stages of DBS therapy – the pre-operative stage to localize the area of implantation, the intra-operative stage to place the  electrode, and the post-operative stage to adjust programming parameters – thus reducing the amount of time needed at each stage of the therapy and maximizing the efficiency of the entire process.

The system includes a central repository, called CranialVault, and  a suite of software modules called CRAnialVault Explorer (CRAVE) that permits data entry and data visualization at each stage as well as a series of algorithms that permit the aggregation of data and the computation of statistical maps used for assistance. The system is currently being evaluated clinically at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.