Rice University and the Houston Methodist Academic Institute have launched a seed grant program to foster innovative research between their faculty, collaborating researchers and clinician scientists. Each institution will share equally in the funding of 20 multiyear projects in robotics, imaging, nursing, cardiovascular engineering and psychological and behavioral health.
The program is the third institutional collaboration Rice and Houston Methodist have announced since early 2021. The two launched the Center for Translational Neural Prosthetics and Interfaces on the Houston Methodist campus in April 2021 and the Center for Human Performance on the Rice campus in March.
“Our collaborations with Houston Methodist will impact human health and wellness, foster new research opportunities and advance our understanding of diseases," said Rice Provost Amy Dittmar.
Houston Methodist Chief Academic Officer Dr. Dirk Sostman said, “This Rice and Houston Methodist synergy will unlock the potential of data to innovate and enable faster and more effective delivery of high quality, safe, effective healthcare.”
The seed grant program is facilitated by Rice's Office of Educational and Research Initiatives for Collaborative Health (ENRICH) on behalf of the Ken Kennedy Institute and the Department of Bioengineering. ENRICH was established in 2016 to advise Rice’s provost on TMC collaborations, to help remove barriers to those collaborations and to engage Rice faculty in starting and strengthening collaborations.
Awards in the nursing category are expected later this year. Awards in other categories are:
● “Exploring Opportunities of Robot-Assisted Nursing during the Central Line Dressing Change Procedure” by Houston Methodist’s Shannon Hamlin, Nicole Fontenot and Hsin-Mei Chen, and Rice’s Lydia Kavraki and Vaibhav Unhelkar .
● “Towards a Robot Assistant for Minimally Invasive Surgery: Manipulation of Surgical Tools under Interactive Surgeon Guidance” by Houston Methodist’s Gavin Britz and Rice’s Kaiyu Hang and Lydia Kavraki.
● “Use of AI analytics for ARDS trajectory prediction from digital chest X-rays” by Houston Methodist’s Asma Zainab, Atiya Dhala, Faisal Masud, Diego Martin and Christof Karmonik, and Rice’s Guha Balakrishnan and Ashok Veeraraghavan.
● “Machine-learning analysis of right ventricular shape for characterization of patients with functional tricuspid regurgitation” by Houston Methodist’s Andrada Guta and Dipan Shah, and Rice’s Meng Li.
● “Reconstructing CT scans from sparse X-rays for attenuation correction on cardiac SPECT Myocardial Perfusion Imaging” by Houston Methodist’s Fares Alahdab and Mouaz Al-Mallah, and Rice’s Guha Balakrishnan.
Psychological and behavioral health
● “Characterizing Burnout in Nursing Populations using Wearables and Machine Learning-Based Analyses” by Houston Methodist’s Katelynn Bourassa and Alok Madan, and Rice’s Akane Sano and Ashu Sabharwal.