Faculty Research

Research Spotlight

Faculty Research

With external support from prestigious organizations including, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the United States Navy, and the American Heart Association, faculty members of Temple University's College of Engineering are engaging in advanced research. Read below to discover more about some of the amazing and ground-breaking research that the faculty and staff of the Temple College of Engineering are working on now and in the future. 


Developing cell-phone based diagnostic to increase access to neonatal jaundice screening 

  In the United States, screening newborns for  pathological neonatal jaundice prior to discharge  is standard of care. Extreme levels of bilirubin are  neurotoxic, and can result in neurosensory  impairment in infants who are not identified and  treated. In low-resource areas of sub-  Saharan  Africa and South Asia, the inability to evaluate  infants’ bilirubin levels is one factor that  contributes to higher rates of infant morbidity  and mortality. Chetan Patil, Ph.D., assistant  professor in the Department of Bioengineering is  developing a mobile-phone based  approach that  simply uses devices' camera and flash to perform a non-invasive measurement of bilirubin using optical diffuse reflectance. “The transformation of mobile phones into powerful computational devices with a fantastic set of onboard optical components offers a  fantastic platform to develop optical diagnostic technologies accessible to those with limited access to conventional healthcare,” says Dr. Patil. “It would be fantastic if we could leverage the explosive global adoption of these devices to improve the care of infants.”

With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Patil has established the initial feasibility, and is currently working to address practical challenges related to screening in low-resource settings. This past fall, Dr. Patil traveled to Kano, Nigeria to meet with collaborators from Vanderbilt University Institute of Global Health to coordinate a pilot study with collaborators in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. Dr. Patil is optimistic that the study will demonstrate the potential of the approach to improve worldwide access to safe, low-cost and objective screening for neonatal jaundice. In addition to mobile-phone based optical diagnostics, his research is aimed at developing novel optical diagnostic devices for screening, intra-operative surgical guidance and label-free biochemical characterization of tissues and cells.


Dissecting the neuromechanics of motion

Andrew Spence, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, and his research group, are investigating how animals move. The aim is to discover how the neural, muscular, and skeletal components of an organism work together to produce locomotion. How does a fast running animal use sensory feedback to remain stable on rough terrain? How does the central nervous system mix feed-forward stability through muscle and body dynamics with feedback information from sense organs? The lab group are currently focusing on mice, bringing new optogenetic tools and closed loop systems to bear on the problem. With optogenetics, extraordinary experiments can be performed in which parts of the nervous system are switched on or off with light. The lab team collaborates actively across a broad range of disciplines: neuroscience, biology, robotics, computer science, and mathematics, and always look forward to developing new efforts.  It is hoped that by better understanding animal, including human, movement, improved technologies can be developed in order to address movement problems. Read more about Dr. Spence’s research at the website for the Spence Lab and the article “Illuminating Technology,” which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Read more about some of the faculty research being conducted at Temple Engineering