LAV team receives $ 100,000 award to monitor abdominal aortic aneurysms


The Vascular Bioengineering Lab (VBL) at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh seeks to understand and develop solutions to the causes and effects of disease in tubular tissues and organs. Part of that research includes a closer look at abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) – the 15th leading cause of death in the United States.

AAA occurs when the aorta weakens and begins to dilate in an irreversible way, like a slowly inflating balloon. If left untreated, the risk of rupture increases and has a 90 percent death rate.

The VBL team is working on developing a new model to better predict patients at risk and using laboratory tools to perform shape analyzes and biomechanical simulations. They will use this data to train a machine learning algorithm to classify different types of aneurysm findings. This classifier will be used to develop a predictive model that can help guide clinicians and determine the need for surgery.

Most medical treatments are based on how they will affect the average patient, but in fact each of us is very different from each other. Being able to understand and predict how a specific person’s aneurysm will develop based on their own unique characteristics is a big step forward. “

Nathan Liang, assistant professor of surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, vascular surgeon at UPMC and co-investigator of the project

“It wasn’t possible in the past, but now, with better machine learning algorithms and increasingly powerful computers, we’re on the verge of making it a reality. Our classifier will allow clinicians and patients to work together, create individualized management plans and improve care. for people with abdominal aortic aneurysms. “

The team received a $ 100,000 award from the Precision Medicine Initiative for Commercialization (PreMIC), a collaboration between Pitt’s Institute for Precision Medicine, sciVelo and the Innovation Institute. Funding for PreMIC comes from a grant from the RK Mellon Foundation to the Institute for Precision Medicine which in part provides essential funding for early stage translational science projects.

“Our initial pilot study to develop the Aneurysm Prognosis Classifier revealed the importance of further interrogation of medical images using biomechanical and morphological analyzes,” said Timothy Chung, postdoctoral associate at the Vascular Bioengineering Lab who will help lead the project. “Using a strong research team and the collaborations offered at Pitt, we aim to improve and personalize the health care of AAA patients. “


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