Emaminejad received NSF CAREER Award to advance personalized medicine

Mar 27, 2019

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

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Precision monitoring technology, based on sweat, could lead to “point-of-person” healthcare.

Sam Emaminejad, a UCLA assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the agency’s highest honor for faculty members at the start of their research and teaching careers.

The five-year grant will support his research and teaching activities in developing sweat-based biosensing into “point-of-person” healthcare technologies.

While wearable technologies that monitor health conditions, such as smartwatches, have been on the market for a few years, they are geared to track vital signs like heart rate or measure physical activity.

Monitoring biochemical signals would offer a deeper and more dynamic picture of a person’s condition, but those signals are currently only measured in blood. For example, diabetes patients use strips that measure glucose levels from blood pricked from a finger.

Using sweat to monitor biochemical signals 24 hours a day, could be an excellent, non-invasive alternative to blood for applications such as wellness and performance monitoring. While biochemical markers in sweat are in lower concentrations than blood, they are still present in amounts that can give general indications of health trends. Emaminejad proposes to develop a suite of technologies built around sweat monitoring, including advanced sensors, wearable devices that can send and receive data in real time, and custom algorithms to analyze data.

In addition, the technologies could be customized to look at other fluids, such as saliva, urine, and blood.

This research is part of a larger shift in medical care, from a model that is very general and reactive, toward one that is much more personalized, proactive and preventative.

Emaminejad directs the Interconnected & Integrated Bioelectronics Lab. He has received numerous awards including the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s NARSAD Young Investigator award; a PhRMA Foundation research starter grant; a distinguished young investigator award from the Stanford Genome Technology Center for leading a multi-center program on remote patient monitoring with UCLA, Intermountain Healthcare and Stanford School of Medicine; and the University of Waterloo’s Young Alumni Achievement Medal. Prior to UCLA, he was a joint postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley and Stanford School of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

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