Sridevi Sarma, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical engineering, and Khalil Husari, associate professor in the Department of Neurology, have received a technology development grant through the Louis B. Thalheimer Fund for Translational Research.
A total of 28 researchers applied for the latest funding round. Finalists pitched their proposals virtually in June to an outside panel of independent researchers and investors, innovation executives, and venture investors.
“We are continuously excited by the number of high-quality applications and novel technologies that demonstrate the strength of the commercialization efforts of our faculty,” says Nicole Snell, assistant director of ventures at FastForward, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures’ startup accelerator program.
Established through a generous $5.4 million gift from businessman and philanthropist Louis B. Thalheimer, the fund provides seed funding for vital proof-of-concept and validation studies of valuable Johns Hopkins technologies.
Since 2016, the Thalheimer Fund has awarded more than $1.5 million to 18 projects at Johns Hopkins. Grants range from $25,000 to $100,000, and all recipients have formally reported their inventions to JHTV.
Sarma and Husari’s project:
A Novel Tool for Diagnosing Epilepsy from Scalp EEG
The pitch: A faster and more accurate way to diagnose epilepsy
More than 3 million Americans have epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by unpredictable seizures. For almost 100 years, an epilepsy diagnosis has been performed by a doctor manually reading results of a scalp electroencephalography (EEG) head scan. Clinicians look at EEGs for abnormalities in the scanned brain waves between seizures, when the brain is considered at rest. These abnormalities are indicators of epilepsy.
The abnormalities don’t always present themselves, however, leaving the EEGs inactionable. The result is a nearly 30% misdiagnosis rate of epilepsy. Untreated patients are at increased risk of seizure recurrence, and patients incorrectly treated face all of the handicaps of a diagnosis, including lifestyle limitations and employment and driving restrictions, as well as potentially unnecessary and costly medical procedures and medications.
Sarma and Husari have developed an EEG analytics algorithm that uses at-rest data to build a “heat map” of a patient’s brain activity that a doctor can then quickly and definitively interpret. They plan to use the Thalheimer funding to perform a study of 200 patients to validate the algorithm’s accuracy, as well as customize another algorithm that removes excess brain activity from the heat map.
JHTV is seeking patent protection for the technology.