with the push of a button<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/jaff-with-button-device.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>It's a simple question: How can institutions provide help for people considering suicide?</p><p>For Evin Jaff, a first-year student majoring in biomedical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, the solution arrived the way many things do nowadays: through Amazon. </p><p>After losing a friend to suicide in his sophomore year of high school, he wanted to design a solution that could help prevent future deaths. He'd noticed within his own community that teens had a need for proper mental health resources but weren't taking advantage of offered services. Inspired by Amazon's Dash button technology, Jaff developed a product that connects at-risk individuals with the resources they need with the push of a button.</p><p>And while his original motivation was suicide prevention, he soon realized that his device could help many more. </p><p>"I came in with a very specific idea of suicide prevention, because that's hit closest to me," Jaff said. "But when I thought it through, I realized it's really just about getting help. People need help for a lot of different reasons, and you can have a button that does that all in one."</p><p>The device uses an API provided by Twilio, a cloud communications service, to connect callers with a resource hotline. Currently, the button acts as an intermediary; when callers press the button, it uses what Jaff calls "server magic" to call their phone from the hotline, similar to teleconferencing services. Once the two calls are live, the service unites them. </p><p>Until recently, connecting callers directly to a hotline in the absence of Wi-Fi was one of Jaff's biggest challenges; but the product has attracted interest from industry leaders and he was encouraged to continue working on the project. He recently started developing a version of his framework on an updated prototype of an AT&T-produced button, which works through more reliable cellular service. He's pushing to have a version of the button with an integrated microphone.</p><p>"That's the most exciting development ahead," he said. "Having the microphone would allow the button to be its own cell phone, making access to a crisis hotline extremely convenient."</p><p><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/help-with-the-push-of-a-button/jaff-button-device.jpg?RenditionID=1" alt="jaff-button-device.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin: 5px;"/>In November, Jaff and his product were highlighted at the Creator's Gallery, hosted by the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He credits the Skandalaris Center with helping him continue to move forward with the product. </p><p>"I think the biggest difference between high school and developing it at WashU is that there's a lot of smart people around here to help me work through some of the harder stuff," Jaff said. Along with his biomedical engineering studies, he's also earning a minor in computer science.<br/></p><p>Jaff admits that he'll need that additional help as the project continues to scale up. So far, he's worked with a network of five to 10 buttons; however, he's now focusing on improving the efficiency of the button so the network functions better under the stress of a campus-size network of 5,000 to 5,000 devices.</p><p>That hasn't limited Jaff's hopes for the product. He'd love for every person in the country to receive a device. Since starting development on it, Jaff has worked with counselors and mental health experts who specialize in suicide prevention, including the Jed Foundation, to ensure the efficacy and safety of the product.</p><p>"Since it's for getting help — with my initial intention being suicide prevention — it's really important that everybody has one," Jaff said. "If you just give it to people who need it the most, then that would single the person out. If everybody has it, it's no big deal for you to carry it around on your keyring."</p><p>Jaff's entrepreneurial spirit hasn't slowed since coming to WashU. Even if his button device doesn't continue forward, he's already got new ideas he's ready to develop. </p><p>"I'm willing to follow this where it goes," he said. "If it turns out that this isn't going to be a successful product, I still love entrepreneurship. I love product development. I will totally move on to the next great idea and try and figure that out."<br/></p>Evin Jaff, a first-year student majoring in biomedical engineering, began development of his button device in high school. Below, Jaff's button device. Submitted photosDanielle Lacey2019-12-03T06:00:00ZEvin Jaff, a first-year Engineering student, has developed a device to connect people with the mental-health resources they need.,-partner-universities-offer-collaborative-undergraduate-education-program.aspx1208McKelvey School of Engineering, partner universities offer collaborative undergraduate education program <img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/DSC00384.JPG?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>The McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis has teamed with three partner universities in Asia to offer undergraduate students from each school the opportunity to study and to broaden their research experience at WashU. </p><p>In the 3+1+X program, undergraduate students from Tsinghua University, Shandong University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) who have completed three years of study would have the opportunity to study at Washington University for their fourth year, then have the option to remain at Washington University to complete a one-year master's degree or to begin doctoral studies. Likewise, Washington University students have the same opportunity to attend one of the three universities in Asia for their fourth year and remain for an optional master's or doctoral degree. The visiting students would earn a Certificate of International Study from the host university in addition to a bachelor's degree from their home institution.<br/></p><p>The first student to join a 3+1+X program at the McKelvey School of Engineering is Junlong Huang, a student from Tsinghua University. Huang is studying in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering this academic year and is being co-advised by Young-Shin Jun, professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering, and Brent Williams, the Raymond R. Tucker Distinguished InCEES Career Development Associate Professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering. Huang's research focuses on the impacts of cast iron pipes in drinking water distribution system of the UV/Persulfate treatment process. Students from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Shandong University are expected to study at WashU beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. <br/></p><div class="row"><div class="column"></div><div class="column"></div></div><p>"As McKelvey Engineering grows the breadth and depth of its research, we are working to expand our connections to important engineering schools around the globe," said Aaron Bobick, dean and James M. McKelvey Professor. "The 3+1+X program is an innovative approach to fostering great collaboration with key partner universities."</p><p>In addition to the student exchange, the universities plan to host research symposia every one to two years for faculty from each institution, as well as provide visiting scholar opportunities to faculty and doctoral students from each institution. The visiting undergraduate students would have the opportunity to conduct research with faculty from the partner institutions.</p><p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/3%20plus%201%20plus%20X.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/> </p><p> <sub><em>From left: 1) Junlong Huang. 2) Dean Bobick signs an agreement with officials from Tsinghua University in China agreed to the 3+1+X program earlier in 2019. 3) Dean Bobick with Professor Tim Cheng from the School of Engineering at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.</em></sub><br/></p> <p>"The symposia and visits by partner faculty and doctoral students will enhance the research collaborations between the two institutions, and while it is not mandatory, the hope is that the 3+1+X undergraduate students could be co-advised by faculty from both WashU and the partner institution, further building on the research topics identified in the symposia," said Teresa Sarai, assistant dean for international relations in the McKelvey School of Engineering. <br/></p><p>The McKelvey School of Engineering will team with Tsinghua's internationally prestigious School of Environment, which is among the world's top 20 programs in environmental sciences, specializing in environmental chemistry and microbiology, environmental engineering, and environmental planning and management. Several WashU faculty earned degrees at Tsinghua, including Peng Bai, assistant professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering; Tao Ju, vice dean for research and professor of computer science; and Xuan "Silvia" Zhang, assistant professor of electrical & systems engineering. <br/></p><p>Most departments in the McKelvey School of Engineering will partner with HKUST's School of Engineering. The highly-ranked HKUST is one of the fastest-growing universities in the world. Its School of Engineering is the largest of the four schools within HKUST and was ranked number 18 globally in the QS World University Rankings subject 2019 in Engineering and Technology.<br/></p><p>The partnership with Shandong University will focus primarily on computer science and engineering students from the Taishan College of Shandong University, an elite and highly selective honors college for students in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and computer science. Taishan College serves as a training ground for top-notch students in these basic disciplines. <br/></p><p>"The Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and the renowned Center for Aerosol Science and Engineering (CASE) have a long-standing relationship with counterparts at Tsinghua University working through the McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environmental Partnership (MAGEEP)," said Pratim Biswas, assistant vice chancellor, chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor. "This program will enable the brightest undergraduate students to get engaged in cutting-edge research and provide an opportunity to then move onto doctoral programs at either institution, but working with faculty mentors at both universities."<br/></p> <SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN> <br/>Officials from McKelvey School of Engineering and Hong Kong University of Science & Technology signed an agreement for the new program this fall in Hong Kong.Beth Miller 2019-12-02T06:00:00ZMcKelvey School of Engineering and three partner universities in Asia now offer undergraduate students a unique study and research experience. learning, imaging technique may boost colon cancer diagnosis <p>​<span style="color: #222222; font-size: 16px;">Colorectal cancer is the second most common type of cancer worldwide with about 90% of cases occurring in people 50 or older. Arising from the inner surface, or muscosal layer, of the colon, cancerous cells can penetrate through the deeper layers of the colon and spread to other organs. <span style="color: #222222; font-size: 16px;">Left untreated, the disease is fatal.</span></span><br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Zhu_colon_imaging.jpg?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>Current colon cancer screening is performed by flexible colonoscopy. The procedure involves visual inspection of the mucosal lining of the colon and rectum with a camera mounted on an endoscope. Abnormal appearing areas are then biopsied for analysis. Although this is the current standard of care, it does have its shortcomings. First, this technique relies on visual detection, but small lesions are hard to detect with the naked eye, and early malignancies are often missed. Second, visual endoscopy can only detect changes in the surface of the bowel wall, not in its deeper layers. <br/></p><p>Quing Zhu, a biomedical engineer in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and Yifeng Zeng, a biomedical engineering doctoral student, are developing a new imaging technique that can provide accurate, real-time, computer-aided diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Using deep learning, a type of machine learning, researchers used the technique on more than 26,000 individual frames of imaging data from colorectal tissue samples to determine the method's accuracy. Compared with pathology reports, they were able to identify tumors with 100% accuracy in this pilot study. <br/></p><p>This is the first report using this type of imaging combined with machine learning to distinguish healthy colorectal tissue from precancerous polyps and cancerous tissue. Results appear in advance online publication in the journal <em>Theranostics</em>. <br/></p><p>The investigational technique is based on optical coherence tomography (OCT), an optical imaging technology that has been used for two decades in ophthalmology to take images of the retina. However, engineers in the McKelvey School of Engineering and elsewhere have been advancing the technology for other uses since it provides high spatial and depth resolution for up to 1- to 2-millimeter imaging depth. OCT detects the differences in the way health and diseased tissue refract light and is highly sensitive to precancerous and early cancer morphological changes. When further developed, the technique could be used as a real-time, noninvasive imaging tool alongside traditional colonoscopy to assist with screening deeply seated precancerous polyps and early-stage colon cancers. <br/></p><blockquote>"We think this technology, combined with the colonoscopy endoscope, will be very helpful to surgeons in diagnosing colorectal cancer," said Zhu, the paper's senior author who also is a professor of radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine. "More research is necessary, but the idea is that when the surgeons use colonoscopy to examine the colon surface, this technology could be zoomed in locally to help make a more accurate diagnosis of deeper precancerous polyps and early-stage cancers versus normal tissue."</blockquote><p>Zhu and her team collaborated with Matthew Mutch, MD, chief of colon and rectal surgery; William C. Chapman Jr., MD, a resident in colon and rectal surgery; and Deyali Chatterjee, MD, assistant professor of pathology & immunology, all at the School of Medicine. <br/></p><p>Two years ago, Zeng, the paper's lead author, began using OCT as a research tool to image samples of colorectal tissue removed from patients at the School of Medicine. He observed that the healthy colorectal tissue had a pattern that looked similar to teeth. However, the precancerous and cancerous tissues rarely showed this pattern. The teeth pattern was caused by light attenuation of the healthy mucosa microstructures of the colorectal tissue.  <br/></p><p>Zeng began working with another graduate student, Shiqi Xu, who earned a master's in electrical engineering from McKelvey Engineering in 2019 and is co-first author on the paper, to train RetinaNet, a neural network model of the brain where neurons are connected in complex patterns to process data, to recognize and learn the patterns in the tissue samples. They trained and tested the network using about 26,000 OCT images acquired from 20 tumor areas, 16 benign areas and six other abnormal areas in patient tissue samples. The diagnoses predicted by this system were compared with evaluation of the tissue specimens using standard histology. Pathology residents Zahra Alipour and Heba Abdelal assisted with the comparison. The team found a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 99.7%. <br/></p><p>"The unique part of our system is that we could detect a structural pattern within the image," Zeng said. "Using OCT, we are imaging something that we can find a pattern across all normal tissues. Then we can use this pattern to classify abnormal and cancerous tissue for accurate diagnosis." <br/></p><p>Zhu, Zeng and the team, in collaboration with Chao Zhou, associate professor of biomedical engineering, are now developing a catheter that could be used simultaneously with the colonoscopy endoscope to analyze the teeth-like pattern on the surface of the colon tissue and to provide a score of probability of cancer from RetinaNet to the surgeons. <br/></p><p>"Right now, we can obtain the feedback in 4 seconds," Zeng said. "With further development of computation speed and the catheter, we can provide the feedback to surgeons in real-time," Zeng said. </p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><p> </p><p>Zeng Y, Xu S, Chapman W, Li S, Alipour Z, Abdelal H, Chatterjee D, Mutch M, Zhu Q. Real-time colorectal cancer diagnosis using PR-OCT with deep learning. <em>Theranostics</em> 2019; advance online publication. <a href="">doi:10.7150/thno.40099</a>.<br/></p><p>This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01CA151570, R01EB002136, R01CA228047) and Washington University School of Medicine Surgical Oncology Basic Science and Translational Research Training Program grant T32CA009621 from the National Cancer Institute.<br/></p><span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Collaborators<br/></h3><div style="text-align: center;"><div> <br/> </div><div><div><div style="text-align: center;"> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Zhu_Quing_15.jpeg?RenditionID=3" alt="Mark Anastasio" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/><span style="caret-color: #343434; color: #343434; text-align: center;"><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Pratim-Biswas.aspx"><strong></strong></a><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Quing-Zhu.aspx"><strong>Quing Zhu</strong></a></span><br/></div></div></div><div style="text-align: left;"><ul style="padding-left: 20px; caret-color: #343434; color: #343434;"><li>Pioneer of combining ultrasound and near infrared (NIR) imaging modalities for clinical diagnosis of cancers and for treatment assessment and prediction of cancers<br/></li></ul></div> <br/> <div style="text-align: center;"> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Yifeng%20Zeng%20IMG_7321.JPG?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <span style="caret-color: #343434; color: #343434; text-align: center;"><br/><strong>Yifeng Zeng</strong></span></div></div><div style="text-align: center;"><p>Doctoral student<br/></p></div></div></span> <span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Media Coverage<br/></h3><div> <strong>Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News: </strong> <a href="">Colon Cancer Diagnosis Improved with Machine Learning Approach</a><br/></div></div></span>The PR-OCT imaging detected images of colon cancer (top photo) and of normal colon tissue. The green boxes indicate the scores of probability of the predicted "teeth" patterns in the tissue. Beth Miller 2019-11-26T06:00:00ZWashington University in St. Louis engineers and physicians are teaming up to develop a new way to diagnose colorectal cancer using imaging and machine learning. model allows researchers to investigate phase transitions<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/lassi.png?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​Biomolecular condensates are membraneless compartments that form in cells via phase transitions of multivalent protein and RNA molecules. These molecules have a multiplicity of sticky domains or regions known as stickers that are interspersed by so-called spacers. Intense efforts are underway to be able to calculate phase diagrams that explain how phase transitions are realized and controlled by different molecules with different architectures of stickers and spacers.</p><p>Researchers associated with the <a href="">Center for Science & Engineering of Living Systems (CSELS)</a> at the McKelvey School of Engineering have developed an open source computational model that allows scientists to generate predictive insights connecting molecular architectures to phase diagrams for multivalent proteins.<br/></p><p>LAttice Simulation engine for Sticker and Spacer Interactions (LASSI) was designed in the lab of Rohit Pappu, CSELS director and Edwin H. Murty Professor of Engineering by Furqan Dar, a physics graduate student in Arts & Sciences, and former postdoctoral researcher Jeong-Mo Choi.<br/></p><p>Details of the algorithm underlying LASSI were published recently in <a href="">PLoS Computational Biology</a>.<br/></p><p><a href="">Find the source code for LASSI online at GitHub</a>.<br/></p>​ <div><div class="cstm-section"><h3>Rohit Pappu<br/></h3><div style="text-align: center;"> <strong> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Rohit-Pappu.aspx"> <img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Pappu_Rohit_1_16_05.jpg?RenditionID=3" alt="Yixin Chen" style="margin: 5px;"/></a> <br/> </strong> </div><div style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Professor<br/>Biomedical Engineering<br/><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Rohit-Pappu.aspx">>> View Bio</a></span></div><div></div></div> <br/> </div><br/>Brandie Jefferson2019-11-21T06:00:00ZRohit Pappu and members of his lab have developed an open-source computational model to help other scientists study phase transitions. students win awards at ORS Spine Section meeting<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/doctoral-student-ors-awards.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​Marcos Barcellona, a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Garrett Easson, a doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, received awards during the 2019 Spine Section meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS).</p>Barcellona won the ORS Philadelphia Spine Research Society (PSRS) Trainee Poster Award for Outstanding Scientific Research for his paper titled “Engineering Laminin-Mimetic Peptide Systems for 2D and 3D Support of NP Cell Culture.” Easson received the ORS Spine Section Innovation Award.<div><br/></div><div>Barcellona is a member of the lab of Lori Setton, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Easson is a graduate research assistant in the lab of Simon Tang, assistant professor biomedical engineering and of orthopedic surgery in the School of Medicine.<br/></div>Easson, left, and Barcellona were recognized for their achievements during the 2019 Spine Section meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society.Danielle Lacey2019-11-18T06:00:00ZMarcos Barcellona and Garrett Easson were honored during the Spine Section meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society in Philadelphia.