Collaborative research initiative developing affordable, robust medical technologies renewed by NSF

PATHS-UP Engineering Research Center driving to establish “ecosystem for digital health” at Rice.

Logo for Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations

The drive to establish an “ecosystem for digital health” at Rice University and encourage the development of affordable, robust medical technologies just got another endorsement.

The Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP) Engineering Research Center, funded by the National Science Foundation in 2017, has been renewed for an additional five years.

"The center’s mission is to develop technologies and systems that can become part of the solutions to address the health disparities in underserved populations, with a focus on chronic diseases,” said Gerard Cote, director of PATHS-UP and the James J. Cain Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University.

“We have already made enormous progress. We are making available funding for more clinicians and researchers to do what they do best – create new digital technologies for the benefit of everyone,” said Ashutosh Sabharwal, Ernest Dell Butcher Professor, chair of electrical and computer engineering, and leader of PATHS-UP at Rice.

The initiative is led by Texas A&M with partners from Rice, the University of California at Los Angeles and Florida International University. On Aug. 29-30, PATHS-UP funded a Digital Health Workshop held at Rice and attended by more than 130.

Thirty attendees delivered five-minute lightning talks outlining their research proposals, emphasizing cardiovascular disorders and diabetes.

“We have more than $375,000 in seed funds committed for research projects. By the end of November, we expect to announce the successful project proposals,” Sabharwal said.

Funding sources for the seed awards include Rice, NSF through PATHS-UP, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. In attendance were representatives from the above institutions and the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, American Heart Association, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and various biotech companies.

PATHS-Up was initially awarded $19.75 million by NSF and has been renewed for another $15.55 million. Engineering Research Centers often become self-sustaining and typically bring in more than $50 million in federal and industry research funding during their first decade.