University of Illinois Professor Dipanjan Pan, PhD, presented a clear message when he took the stage at the Share the Vision conference.

Pan recently expanded his Bioengineering role to join the faculty at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

Pan summarized how engineers and physicians can merge mindsets in pursuit of new ideas in his speech about OcuCheck, which would allow Primary Care physicians to use biosensors to better evaluate the severity of eye injuries.

With Carle ophthalmologist Leanne Labriola, DO, the two developed a device called OcuCheck, which recently resulted in Phase II funding from the National Science Foundation, a significant achievement toward further development. Plenty of work lies ahead, though. They will build a prototype for the device, plan for clinical trials, pursue FDA approval and seek additional funding from outside vendors.

But their inspiration and collaboration exemplifies something larger for both entities.

“This research is exactly what our new Carle Illinois College of Medicine is all about,” Pan said.

Dr. Labriola shares her partner’s excitement for new opportunities in research. She splits her time as a clinician and researcher, striking a balance between the roles that keep her engaged and excited for what’s ahead.

Together, Pan and Dr. Labriola are finding out what’s possible.

“As a clinician, it’s amazing to work with people who believe in the vision and the need in a way that matches our drive,” Dr. Labriola said. “One thing that always stood out about working with Dipanjan is that he always says ‘yes’ to a challenge.

“There’s no doubt we’re collaborating with a top-tier engineering program that is not afraid to go outside of their box.”

Two Carle physicians presented information about their research, too.

Karen White, MD, PhD: “Combining Biomarkers with EMR Data to Improve Sepsis Identification”

As a Critical Care physician at Carle, White sees the need for improved sepsis identification on nearly a daily basis. Sepsis ranges in its severity, but is a leading cause of death and is the most costly condition to treat in U.S. hospitals.

White’s research aims to combine biomarkers and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) data to increase accurate and timely diagnoses. In a case study, 444 adult patients were tested for 15 biomarkers.

As a member of the Executive Faculty Committee at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, Dr. White will continue this work alongside University of Illinois Professor Rashid Bashir, PhD. They hope timely biomarker measurement at the bedside, combined with clinical data, could result in a scoring system to paint a much clearer picture for providers to diagnose sepsis.

Graham Huesmann, MD, PhD: “Shaking the Brain Toward Better Health – Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE) and Mesial Temporal Sclerosis Epilepsy (MTSE)”

Collaborating with two research scientists from the Beckman Institute’s Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Illinois, Graham Huesmann, MD, PhD, hopes to alter bleak outlooks.

His research focuses on using MRE to earlier diagnose debilitating forms of epilepsy. Dr. Huesmann feels invigorated by the potential for this new technique to allow for early treatment and close follow up for these patients.

“It’s a great time to be working here,” Dr. Huesmann said. “The inventive nature of the University combines nicely with our need to solve clinical problems at Carle.”

The Office of Technology Management at Illinois organized Share the Vision 2017, an innovation and start-up showcase that connects researchers with potential funders and development partners.

Please note:

  • Dipanjan Pan – Assistant Professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
  • Dr. White – Clinical Assistant Professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
  • Rashid Bashir – Executive Associate Dean, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
  • Dr. Huesmann – Research Assistant Professor
Article originally appeared in the Carle newsroom.