Sparking research connections between the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) and the College of Medicine (COM) got easier Friday in a speed-dating style forum designed to bring together diverse experts to solve humanity’s health issues.

The conference allowed for nearly 40 CECS and COM scientists and clinicians to learn about each other’s areas of specialty and explore possible partnerships.

Participants heard a series of five-minute presentations on topics ranging from computer-aided diagnostic tools to robotic cardiac surgery with the goal of developing meaningful research projects.

Leveraging partnerships to increase research funding has been a priority for COM Dean Deborah German, especially as federal funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health push for more collaborative projects linking basic science and clinical needs. Bringing together scientific experts with different points of view can open new doors to solving problems.

“Some of the most exciting advances in modern medicine are supported by engineering and computer science expertise,” agreed Dr. Michael Georgiopoulos, CECS dean. “This conference is a testament to the emerging synergy between our colleges. I hope that by sharing our research in an open forum, we can spur new opportunities that will ultimately lead to more breakthroughs and better technologies that benefit society.”

CECS and COM collaborative research projects are already underway. For example, researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science are working with a COM physician to develop intelligent avatars for use in telemedicine, which could benefit patients who must otherwise travel great distances to see a healthcare provider.

In another project, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering researchers have teamed up with a COM physician to explore the biomechanics of hip reduction using a widely-used orthopedic harness to non-surgically correct congential hip dysplasia in infants. Their goal is to suggest feasible clinical methods aimed at reducing treatment failure rates associated with the harness.

The event was one of several collaborative research events the College of Medicine is leading with the goal of identifying areas of partnership that would be relevant to today’s funding agencies and to make researchers aware of UCF colleagues who might have relevant expertise, equipment and other resources to share.

“The importance of these meetings will have long-term consequences,” said Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy, who holds the medical school, Florida Hospital Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences and has been helping to lead the partnership efforts. “Science has no boundaries or limits, and clinicians and scientists can’t function in isolation. For that reason we are embarking on an effort to encompass every major discipline in our missions of education, research, patient care and service.”

— CECS —