UCLA medical and engineering experts team up to improve health care

Apr 11, 2016

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom


This video focuses on activity in the Home Lab at UCLA Engineering, one project of the UCLA Center for SMART Health.
Dr. Arash Naeim of the UCLA Center for SMART Health. The center seeks to test and improve new health care technologies and allow more patients to heal in their own homes.
Professor Majid Sarrafzadeh of the UCLA Center for SMART Health. The center taps the expertise of health care providers, engineers and computer scientists.
UCLA Engineering researcher Christine King with a spirometer and Apple Watch. Using information about a child’s health history and environmental factors, the phone can signal when an asthma attack may be imminent.

The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have formed a new center whose mission is to improve the quality and reliability of new health care technologies, reduce the length and cost of hospital stays, and allow more patients to heal in their own homes.

The UCLA Center for Systematic, Measurable, Actionable, Resilient and Technology-driven Health, or Center for SMART Health, will foster collaboration among engineers, computer scientists, clinicians, biomedical researchers and information technologists. Researchers will develop and test health care devices and systems — including mobile technology, big data analytics, screening technologies and medical robotics — in order to address challenges in the way health care is delivered.

The center’s first project, called the SMART Home Lab, is a mock residence where researchers can simulate patients’ responses to treatment and the reliability and resilience of home health sensors. The lab is in UCLA’s Engineering VI building.

Other projects, to be based at the Geffen School, will focus on a range of diagnostic and treatment technologies.

The center’s co-directors are Dr. Arash Naeim, an associate professor of medicine and the Geffen School’s chief medical officer for clinical research, and Majid Sarrafzadeh, a distinguished professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UCLA Engineering and a co-founder of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute. The center is an initiative of the School of Medicine’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute and  UCLA Engineering’s B. John Garrick Institute for the Risk Sciences.

“The fundamental and applied research performed in the SMART Health Center could have an unprecedented impact on care,” Sarrafzadeh said. “The flexibility, adaptability and mobility of wearable and remote health systems enable effective monitoring and delivery of information to patients without requiring time-consuming and costly clinical visits. In addition, predictive analytics is revolutionizing decision making that can improve health care and quality of life.”

Naeim, who also is a researcher in aging and cancer at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the new effort will be strengthened by cooperation between the schools.

“UCLA has some of the greatest medical and engineering minds in the world, and the SMART Health Center represents a great opportunity for them to collaborate on solutions to some of the biggest challenges in health care delivery,” he said. “The SMART Health Center will be a real game changer for UCLA, and it will open the door to innovative joint ventures with technology companies and the health care industry.”

Main photo: Ramin Ramezani, a research scientist with the UCLA schools of medicine and engineering, demonstrates a data-gathering system that monitors patient recovery.

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