Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NIBIB Releases Draft Plan

Researchers are developing new medical technologies and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). Their plans were spelled out in the release of their May 2011 draft Strategic Plan which showed a number of projects underway showing major results.

Following strategic planning retreats and group discussions, a working group of senior staff identified goals for the next five years and the strategies needed to achieve these goals. At that point, the NIBIB staff in close consultation with the NIBIB National Advisory Council developed the 2011 draft strategic plan. The plan is open for comment through June 17, 2011 and comments should be submitted to nibib_sp@mail.nih.govv.

NIBIB provides grants to perform ongoing work in imaging, engineering, health informatics, and interdisciplinary sciences. The main objective is to develop low-cost state-of-the-art technologies to apply to the treatment of specific diseases by collaborating with other NIH institutes and centers. In addition, NIBIB is studying how telecommunications and mobile health technologies can broaden the accessibility and affordability of healthcare in remote environments.

A number of projects are underway. For example, researchers at Stony Brook University are working on the use of ventricular assist devices to save lives resulting from heart failure. The researchers are studying the need to use anticoagulants when patients with mechanical devices are required to follow a difficult regimen of anticoagulant therapy. The problem is that if the blood flows inefficiently through these mechanical devices then at some point, blood clots can sometimes occur.

To study the problem, researchers are doing virtual wind tunnel testing of ventricular assist devices by simulating blood flow through the devices to understand what causes blood clots to form. They will use this information to improve the design of the implanted devices.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are working on point-of-care devices to use for the early detection of cancer. So far, they have developed a disposable microchip capable of detecting and separating rare circulating tumor cells from whole blood samples at concentrations of less than one cell in a billion.

These microfluidic devices have been successfully used to track the number of circulating tumor cells in cancer patients with the devices correlated to the treatment of their tumors. Individual cells that are captured need to be identified to understand where they came from in the body for follow-up studies. The team is currently working to integrate their microfluidic chips with single cell analysis to analyze genetically the captured cells.

Globally, research to advance technologies in global health is ongoing. Researchers in the “Program for Appropriate Technology in Health” (PATH) in collaboration with the University of Washington are working to develop advance point-of-care diagnostics technology to use globally.

In addition, researchers from PATH and mBio Diagnostics ™ have developed a low-cost disposable cartridge system that can simultaneously test blood samples for multiple infections including HIV, syphilis, and Hepatitis B and C. The disposable cartridge system is currently being field tested.

Go to to view the NIBIB draft Strategic Plan.