NSF’s Connected Health Program

The National Science Foundation’s https://www.nsf.gov “Smart and Connected Health” (SCH) program is involved in next generation health and medical research. The agency looks towards developing innovative advances in computer and information science, engineering and technology, and behavioral issues.

Recently, the SCH program awarded funds to the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) https://ucsd.edu for $175,000 for the research program, “Human-in-the-Loop Design and Control of Handheld Robotic Instruments for Laparoscopic Surgery”. Researchers are studying how to effectively provide care in remote environments where expensive equipment and expert surgeons do not always exist especially in rural hospitals.

There has been significant research into developing large-scale robot-assisted minimally invasive surgical systems and commercial systems. The funding for UCSD will enable researchers to focuse on developing lower cost handheld robotic devices.

Researchers want to combine the strength of direct human operators with the precision and dexterity of robots especially to help patients in remote or rural environments. They are also seeking to develop different strategies that will both steer the robotic instrument as well as map hand movements.

This research should expand understanding of human-robot interactions for classes of robots beyond tele-robots and create new robots with applications beyond surgery and healthcare. These handheld robots will help to improve the health, well-being, and standard of care for underserved patients.

The research started June 1, 2019 and it is estimated to be completed by May 31, 2021.The Principal Investigator is Tania Morimoto tkmortimoto@eng.ucsd.edu. For further information contact the University of California-San Diego, Office of Contract & Grant Administration at 858-534-4896 for information on award (CRII: SCH (1850400).

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