What is the overall goal of your project?
With participatory design and stakeholder input, the PATHS-UP ERC will develop two transformative engineered systems: a Lab-in-your-Palm (LiyP) and a Lab-on-a-Wrist (LoaW), to monitor key biomarkers (biochemical, biophysical, and behavioral) of chronic disease (namely cardiovascular and diabetes prevalence in our underserved and underrepresented communities).

Which grand challenge are you addressing?
Our team from Texas A&M University (TAMU), University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Florida International University (FIU), Rice University (RICE), and the University of Illinois (UIUC) has a vision to change the paradigm for the health of underserved populations by developing revolutionary, cost-effective technologies and systems at the point-of-care (POC).  To accomplish this vision, our mission is

  • to engineer transformative, robust, and affordable technologies and systems to improve health care access, enhance the quality of service and life, and reduce the cost of health care in underserved populations, and
  • to recruit and educate a diverse group of scientists and engineers who are ready to lead the future in developing enabling technologies to improve health in underserved communities.

What is the key challenge your project is trying to solve?

  • The Strategic Plan for the PATHS-UP ERC will initially focus on developing these technologies and systems for underserved populations with diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). These chronic diseases are particularly devastating in underserved communities in the US.
  • The overarching goal of PATHS-UP is to change the paradigm for the health of underserved populations by developing the workforce, the innovation ecosystem, an inclusive culture, and revolutionary, cost-effective technologies and systems at the POC.

What is the impact on society your project has?
The PATHS-UP ERC seeks to develop the fundamental knowledge, enabling technology and engineered systems that overcome current technology gaps and address current barriers. Importantly, we will seek to understand the particular barriers and constraints in our underserved communities towards developing POC technologies and systems that will be effective and embraced in these communities.  This will require an integrative and interactive process among all partner institutions as well as among all four pillars of the ERC (Research, Workforce Development, Innovation Ecosystem, and Culture of Inclusion) and with multiple stakeholders (patients, health care providers, caregivers, community health advocates, industry, insurance providers, and government agencies). Further, creating the right culture from the beginning is critical for the center to mature with the idea that success requires, and is enhanced by transdisciplinary and inclusive practices. Toward that end, we will begin the engagement process in the first year; this will require input from our PATHS-UP researchers, industry collaborators, workforce development K-12 team, a culture of inclusion experts, and culturally responsive assessment and evaluation partners. To aid in the integrative activities, much of the early-stage effort will go into intensive communication among the center team. Regular web meetings, as well as face-to-face meetings among the faculty, staff, and students, will identify key elements to be integrated through cooperation. In short, we plan to quickly establish pathways for easy and effective collaboration and communication in order to uniformly pursue a common set of goals to develop the fundamental knowledge, enabling technology and engineered systems toward the ultimate impact of improved health of the underserved communities.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gerry Cote

Targeted Engineering Majors: BMEN, ISEN, ECEN