Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sensors to Provide Valuable Data

The “My Air, My Health Challenge” sponsored by NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for HIT, and EPA was unveiled at the Health Data Initiative Forum. The Challenge was presented by NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, PhD, and EPA Science Advisor Glenn Paulson PhD.

The competition will spur collaboration between health researchers and technologists to create a personal sensor system capable of measuring air pollution and a person’s physiological response to it. The goal is to help researchers, communities, and physicians better understand the connection between air quality and health.

Competitors will propose designs for sensors that can be easily worn or carried. In addition to gathering data on chemicals and/or particulate air pollutants, these sensors will measure health parameters, such as heart rate and breathing. The proposals should also address how to make a wide array of collected data available to a broad spectrum of researchers, public health institutions, and other interested parties.

Cash awards will be made to four finalists where each finalist will receive $15,000 and will be invited to develop their proposals into working prototypes. The finalists will need to demonstrate how their systems can be integrated for practical use by people, along with health and environmental agencies. One finalist will be awarded $100,000 for the most effective solution that will be able to integrate physiological and air quality data that is usable and meaningful to long-term health outcomes.

Birnbaum said, “We’re all different and our bodies react in different ways to pollution and other harmful toxins in our environment. We believe pairing health researchers with technology innovators will help us get the tools we need for a more complete picture of what people are breathing and how it might affect their health.”

A webinar will be held on June 19 at 4pm EDT to further discuss the competition. For additional information on the webinar and the “My Air, My Health Challenge, go to