Saving Lives at Birth: Grant Winner Mark Ansermino

A Phone Oximeter invented by UBC Assistant Professor Mark Ansermino and his team is the winner of a $250,000 grant.

The initiative “Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development” was organized in an attempt to gather ideas and scientists to address health problems faced by children and pregnant mothers. It was funded by Grand Challengers Canada, the United States Agency for International Development, Norway’s Foreign Ministry, the World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It received over 600 entries from across the globe. Mark’s project, “The Phone Oximeter: Development and Evaluation of a Wireless Pulse Oximeter on a Cell phone for safe Perioperative Care”, is one of nineteen winners selected.

The objective of his project is to develop a robust, low-cost wireless pulse oximeter that displays information on a cell phone for use in the developing world. The information display will minimize the need for training in interpretation, optimize the use of information in the pulse oximetry signal and provide intelligent interpretation of results. The invention transforms a cellphone into a portable blood-oxygen tester, making expensive equipment accessible to the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It will be field-tested in Stellenbosch, South Africa where project partners are currently working to identify mothers who are at risk due to their high blood pressure.

Mark is involved in a wide range of projects in pediatric anesthesia, with a focus on the use of new technology and the information derived from such advances to reduce patient risk in anesthesia and intensive care. A large amount of physiological data is already recorded and stored in clinical monitoring systems, but it is currently under-utilised. Together with an interdisciplinary team of engineers and clinicians, he develops methods to extract important features from this redundant information, helping to provide decision-making support to clinicians and to monitor the quality of healthcare delivery. If you are interested in learning more about his work, click here to visit his profile on the Child & Family Research Institute website.