Health Innovations


 Jeff Davis, MD, MS

Jeffrey R. Davis, MD currently serves as Chief Medical Officer for the NASA Johnson Space Center and Director, Human Health and Performance (HH&P). The HH&P Directorate provides the research and technology development required for exploration as well as human health and performance support to spaceflight operations. He received his BS in biology from Stanford University and MD degree from the University of California at San Diego. He is the senior editor of Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine, 4th edition and a chapter author for Loss of Signal.


NASA’s Human Health and Performance Business Model to Accelerate Innovation

This presentation describes a new business model for advancing NASA human health and performance innovations and demonstrates how open innovation, including the use of crowdsourcing and technology solution sourcing services, shaped its development. A 45 percent research and technology development budget reduction drove formulation of a strategic plan grounded in collaboration. We describe the strategy execution, including adoption and results of open innovation initiatives, the challenges of culture change, and the development of a knowledge management tool to educate and engage the workforce in the new strategy and promote cultural change.


 Kurt Hammerle, JD

Kurt Hammerle has represented NASA as an intellectual property law advisor since 1998. His focus is to foster and protect scientific and technological advances of NASA for the benefit of NASA and the United States. This goal is achieved by seeking to promote innovation throughout the Agency; by identifying and capturing innovations of NASA; by protecting and defending the rights and innovations of NASA; by leveraging NASA's innovations for the benefit of the public and U.S. economy; by advocating for the rewarding of innovators; and by assisting in the appropriate broadcast of the importance and value of NASA innovations.

Lab-to-Market: An Intellectual Property Attorney’s Perspective on Navigating the Path to Commercialization

The benefits of NASA technology are everywhere- knowledge provided by weather and navigational spacecraft; millions of passengers and packages traveling safely by air every day; efficiency in ground and air transportation; super computers; solar- and wind-generated energy; the cameras in smart phones; biomedical technologies such as advanced imaging and infant formula; and protective gear that keeps our military, firefighters, and police safe- all have benefitted from the Nation’s investments in aerospace technology.
The United States Government strives to ensure the benefits of federally-funded technologies continue to improve the lives of U.S. citizens. This goal is accomplished, in part, through the process of transferring federally-funded technologies to the private sector via the process of commercialization. This presentation will give insight on navigating the pathway from federal laboratory to the commercial marketplace, including factors considered to determine whether a new technology merits protection as an intellectual property asset.


 Veronica Leautaud, PhD

Veronica Leautaud is the Director of Education for Beyond Traditional Borders at Rice 360˚ Institute for Global Health Technologies. In this position, she leads educational initiatives and design programs in global health technology development. Previously, she worked as a Research Scientist at Rice University’s Department of Bioengineering, focusing on the development and clinical translation of imaging technologies and molecular diagnostics, with a special emphasis in making these technologies suitable for low resource settings. Dr. Leautaud’s previous training and teaching experience is in the areas of viral replication and cancer cell biology. She holds a B.S. from Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City, and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in Public Health from Harvard University.

Improving Lives Through Technology Innovation at Rice 360

There is a desperate need for high-quality biomedical engineering education in low resource settings, both to support innovation of new technologies that meet local health needs and to build capacity to support existing biomedical technology. For example, it has been estimated that less than half of the equipment installed through PEPFAR for HIV care is still functional. The equipment is not sufficiently robust for low-resource settings, and there is a lack of technical support to maintain it. The traditional R&D enterprise has failed to develop medical technologies that are designed, delivered and priced for resource-poor settings.  To address this need, we developed the Beyond Traditional Borders program at Rice, in which students work in interdisciplinary teams under the mentorship of clinicians in the developing world and faculty to innovate and implement appropriate technologies that solve real healthcare challenges in the developing world.


 Dorit Donoviel, PhD

Dr. Donoviel oversees the diverse portfolio of science and technology research and development projects at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. She leads the NSBRI Industry Forum and the SMARTCAP seed award program for small companies.
Dr. Donoviel is Director of the Laboratory for Biomedical Innovations where she evaluates emerging medical products that have the potential to transform medical care in space and on Earth.
Dr. Donoviel is a member of the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology and the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, lecturing and mentoring medical students in space biomedical research.
Before joining NSBRI, Dr. Donoviel was engaged in pharmaceutical drug discovery at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company based in The Woodlands, Texas. She managed a metabolism research group that identified and validated targets for drug discovery by using in-vivo functional genomics technology, and developed small molecule compounds, antibody, and protein therapeutics against these validated targets.

Healthcare Anywhere – Even Outer Space

Many of the medical solutions that we are developing for astronauts in space are driving innovations in terrestrial medicine. Technologies must be non-invasive, portable, easy-to-use and provide clinically relevant information that would traditionally be obtained using more complex, larger and more expensive approaches. Through partnerships with industry and seed funding opportunities, we have generated a pipeline of medical innovations that have the potential to transform medicine in space and on terra firma.


 Tony Hu, PhD

Dr. Tony Hu currently serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Nanomedicine at the Houston Methodist Research Institute. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University (New York). He received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin where he focused on developing nanomaterials as biosensors for disease diagnosis. Dr. Hu brings a diverse background that combines Biochemistry, Mass Spectrometry, Nanofabrication, and Biomedical Engineering. He has been working on the development and engineering of nanoporous-silica devices, including their application in discovery and validation of biomarkers for years. Dr. Hu received the Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Explorations Award (2012), Virginia and Ernest Cockrell Junior Faculty Award (2012), HMRI President Award (2013), Golfer Against Cancer Award (2014), and Kostas Cardiovascular Nanomedicine Award (2014). His in-depth knowledge of multiplex-detection method development, which is for sample processing, mass spectrometry, biomarker identification and validation, ideally positions him in a leading role to ensure optimal progress toward the clinical translation of a platform for improved and comprehensive analysis of blood-based biomarkers, with potentially broad clinical applications.

Nanopore technology -“Small” platforms enabling “big” changes in disease detection

Nanotechnology is a promising tool to improve diagnosis, assess treatment efficacy and design personalized therapies with minimal invasiveness. We focuses on developing tools and methods to understand and regulate complex biological networks that are critical to the development of disease, and developing nanopore-based sensors for biomaterial characterization that can be used to improve early detection. Nano-Micro scale science, information, and biomedicine are integrative components of our research, and are used in combination with advanced engineering tools to facilitate biomedical studies and develop robust diagnostics for global health initiatives.


 Jennifer Carnell, MD

I am an assistant professor in the emergency center at Ben Taub and the Director of Emergency Ultrasound and Education for BCM’s EM division. Having worked clinically in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Indonesia and working currently at a hospital that sees a large immigrant population, I have a keen interest in the utility of ultrasound, specifically echocardiography, in low resource settings.

Cardiac Ultrasound – Don’t leave home without it!

The utility of echocardiography to evaluate the etiology of symptoms such as shortness of breath, hypotension and vital signs abnormalities is well known. In low resource settings, point of care ultrasound can be an indispensable tool that quickly narrows a long list of possible causes of illness to arrive at the diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This presentation will focus on how to obtain basic ultrasound views of the heart and use the information from the images obtained to diagnosis pericardial effusion, heart failure, and valvular pathology in the setting of disease processes such as tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and rheumatic heart disease. The presentation will be followed by a short hands-on session where participants can practice the skills they have been exposed to in the presentation.


Oral Abstracts

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Mateo Prochazka, John D. Robinson, Sarah A. Westergaard, Alejandro Llanos-Cuentas, A. Clinton White, Martin Montes
Standardization of a viability test for the assessment of drug response in Echinococcus granulosus protoscolices maintained in long term cultures
Kimberly Mendoza, Priyanka Jain, Martha Lopez, A. Clinton White, Miguel M. Cabada
Creating an Online Global Health Course
Paul Hausknecht