Sunday, May 20, 2012

Research Pointing to the Future

Researchers at Wayne State University are working to create the future in metropolitan Detroit. Hongwei Zhang, PhD, Assistant Professor of Computer Science in WSU’s College of Engineering and Patrick Grossman, PhD in WSU’s Division of Computing and Information Technology, recently received $300,000 in grant funding from the National Science Foundation. The funding will be used to build an experimental wireless networking infrastructure for research, education, and application exploration.

The network will have multiple sectors, or cells, using “Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access” (WiMAX) a communication technology for wirelessly delivering high-speed internet service to large geographical areas.

WiMAX is part of 4G wireless communication technology and far surpasses the range for conventional Wi-Fi local area networks. “WiMAX is expected to play a major role in areas such as smart grids, smart transportation, vehicular infotainment, healthcare, and community internet access,” Zhang said.

Wayne State is already one of nine institutions nationally already equipped with WiMAX technology funded by NSF with additional funding by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Clearwire Corp. So far, the university is using WiMAX technology to provide internet service to about 750 low income Detroit residents.

WSU’s WiMAX network is going to be connected to NSF’s Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) network. Although GENI is an experimental infrastructure, researchers envision that the use of GENI will create new possibilities for future internets.

Also, WSU and the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS), as part of their “Institute for Population Sciences, Health Assessment Administration, Services, and Economics” referred to as INPHAASE, have issued an RFP due July 1, 2012. The funding is to provide seed money to researchers at WSU to provide pilot data that will eventually lead to collaborative publications and externally funded collaborative programs.

INPHAASE is an inter institutional, coordinated effort to bring together and integrate the faculty of WSU and HFHS to do further research on understanding the biological and social reasons that exist for health disparities among populations of differing demographics, including ethnicity, gender, age, and economic status. The researchers will test alternative strategies to overcome the disparities, but also work to develop HIT management systems and perform research that can be used to eliminate disparities.

The core activities of INPHAASE are directed towards disease prevention, management, and health promotion in large urban areas that exist in metropolitan Detroit. The objective is to change individual and population behavior related to health status as well as the behavior of healthcare systems and providers.

The focus of this year’s INPHAASE competition is Cancer. The successful proposal will accelerate research in cancer prevention, cancer epidemiology, behavioral research and cancer control, observational studies, comparative effectiveness research all related to cancer and/or cancer health disparities.

For more information, email Shay Izzard at