Newswise – The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) is the joint recipient of $4.75 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to create a new Center for Extended Reality Medical Innovations. The center, known as MIXR, will help accelerate the development of virtual reality, augmented reality and other immersive multimedia technologies – called “extended reality” – for use in clinical trials and eventually widespread use. in medical care.
UMSOM faculty are teaming up with computer scientists and engineers from the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) and physician-scientists from the University of Michigan to establish MIXR. They will also receive expertise and funding from Google, Microsoft, Meta (formerly known as Facebook), among others to develop, test and certify extended reality technologies for use in medicine and healthcare.
“Immersive technologies have the potential to fundamentally change, improve and reduce the cost of medical education and maintain clinical skills in all aspects of healthcare,” mentioned Sarah Murthi, MD, Associate professor of surgery at UMSOM who is a co-investigator on this project. She is an attending physician at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and Director of the Critical Care Ultrasound Program. “They also have enormous potential to improve patient care, in everything from pain management to performing procedures.”
Dr. Murthi plans to continue working to understand how extended reality can fundamentally change medicine. She focuses on using these tools in education and training and to help improve the patient experience in those who are critically ill. She is also working to implement innovative extended reality medical displays that could improve the way bedside procedures are performed. She helped develop and test an augmented reality prototype that overlays ultrasound, CT scan and video data directly onto the patient.
Collaborators on these projects include Adam C. Puche, PhDprofessor and vice-chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at UMSOM, who works on virtual reality technologies for teaching and training in surgery, and Nicholas Morris, MDassistant professor of neurology at UMSOM and Luana Colloca, MD, Ph.D., who are both investigating the use of virtual reality programs for pain management in critically ill patients.
Initial work began at the Maryland Blended Reality Center (MBRC) which Dr. Murthi started in 2017 with Amitabh Varshney, PhD, professor and dean of the College of Computing, Mathematical and Natural Sciences at UMCP. Dr. Varshney is the Principal Investigator at the main site of the MIXR project.
“The synergy in MIXR will be contagious”, said Dr. Varshney. “Our industry partners will drive new ideas and technologies forward. Scientists and doctors will help refine and test these ideas. And we will both work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to bring these technologies from the lab to the appropriate healthcare setting where they can have exponential impact.
Dr. Varshney and his colleagues at UMCP will soon unveil a “HoloCamera” studio, where more than 300 immersive cameras are fused together, creating a unique 3D visualization technology. The goal is to create a type of holographic image to aid in the training of medical professionals performing complex medical procedures.
In 2018, Murthi and Varshney co-wrote an op-ed in the harvard business review which detailed how augmented reality could improve patient care and reduce costs in hospital settings. They also partnered with the Maryland Institute College of Art to test a virtual reality platform that can help patients cope with physical and emotional trauma through otherworldly immersion, with a focus on quadriplegic patients hospitalized with acute spinal cord injury.
Dr. Murthi also plans to continue collaborating with Toby Guerin, associate director of the Center for Dispute Resolution at UMB Carey Law School on the development of virtual reality interventions to improve empathy and understanding between police and members of the community as an innovative form of violence reduction.
The award is part of NSF’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) program, designed to jump-start cutting-edge research by enabling close and sustained engagement between industry innovators, world-class academic teams and government agencies.
Behrooz Shirazi, acting deputy division director of NSF’s Computer and Networking Systems Division and program director for the IUCRC, called MIXR one of the premier national centers at the intersection of medical and computers. “We expect this dynamic collaboration to produce significant impacts on society and health care,” he said.
Besides Google, Microsoft, and Meta, other tech companies involved in MIXR include Sony, Magic Leap, Health2047, GigXR, Brainlab, and apoQlar.
Another key partner in the MIXR initiative will be FDA regulatory experts, who will provide input and review new technologies to ensure they are safe and effective for patient use.
“We are very grateful to the NSF for supporting this important collaboration. Together with our colleagues in academia, industry and government, we can advance cutting-edge medical technologies and deliver faster benefits to patients,” says Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBAexecutive vice president for medical affairs, UM Baltimore, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Professor Emeritus and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
About University of Maryland Medical School
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland Medical School was incorporated in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today to be one of the world’s fastest growing leading biomedical research enterprises – with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes and programs, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a two-time distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of over $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide intensive research, academic, and clinical care to nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments ranking highly among all medical schools in the nation for research funding. As one of seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents and fellows. The combined medical school and medical system (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of more than $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks 8th among public medical schools in terms of research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies. In the last US News and World Report ranking of best medical schools, released in 2021, UM School of Medicine is ranked #9 among 92 public medical schools in the United States and among the top 15% (#27) of 192 public and private medical schools in the United States. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. To visit medschool.umaryland.edu