A new process for “bioprinting” individualized human heart models, to help surgeons practice for heart operations.
A virtual-reality training program for intubations, now being used by medical institutions across the U.S. and abroad.
A simulator to train medical professionals how to connect patients to machines that pump and oxygenate blood outside the body when the heart and lungs need to rest.
Those are among the innovations funded by the Jump ARCHES research partnership between OSF HealthCare in Peoria and the University of Illinois Grainger College of Engineering, designed to spur high-tech advances in medical simulation, treatment and education.
Now that effort is getting a $50 million boost to expand its scope to address broader challenges such as rural health-care access and changing patient behaviors.
Jump ARCHES — Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation — was established in 2013 with $25 million from the financial technology firm Jump Trading, founded by two UI alumni, former Chicago traders Paul Gurinas and Bill DiSomma.
That was matched by $25 million from OSF, and the UI kicked in the equivalent of a $12.5 million endowment, for a total of $62.5 million.
New commitments of $50 million were announced Tuesday, bringing the total endowment to $112.5 million.
About $25 million will come from the DiSomma Family Foundation and another $12.5 million from OSF. The UI will again contribute the equivalent of $12.5 million in endowment support, or $500,000 annually.
Income from the endowment provides grants for joint research projects between engineers at Illinois and physicians at OSF and the UI Medical College in Peoria, to develop technologies for medical simulations and education, said Rashid Bashir, dean of the UI College of Engineering. Leading the partnership are the UI’s Health Care Engineering Systems Center and OSF’s Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center.
The new funding will double the grant money awarded, to $4 million a year, and broaden the scope to bring in other technologies — such as mobile health devices, wellness sensors, the “internet of things” for health care, ergonomics, health data analytics, robotics and animation, mobility options for health and wellness, artificial intelligence and machine learning, officials said.
It will also incorporate the social and behavioral factors that help determine human health, widening the range of scientists who can apply for funding beyond just engineering, Bashir said.
Toward that end, the partnership will bring in the newly established Center for Social and Behavioral Sciences at Illinois, directed by UI psychology Professor Brent Roberts.
“That’s basically our way to expand this to more of the campus, not just engineering,” Bashir said.
Roberts said the Jump ARCHES program has already led to “amazing” technological innovations to improve health care, and he sees tremendous potential in applying that to social and behavioral problems that affect health in all communities.
“We hope to support pathbreaking research to solve fundamental issues such as delivering health care more effectively to rural, underserved, communities; helping patients more effectively change their health behaviors and making sure patients can use the technological innovations generated by engineers to improve their health,” he said in a release.
Bashir was involved in some of the work to develop organ models for surgery simulations, including a heart with the same feel and mechanical properties of the real thing, “so it very much looks and feels like a heart. That’s what you want to be able to provide to surgeons to practice,” he said.
The “Holy Grail,” he said, would be to take an image of someone’s heart, then replicate it via 3-D printing, so surgeons could practice on a model identical to the patient’s, he said. One area he’s worked on is developing a material that can be sutured, like actual tissue.
“We’re not there yet. There’s a lot of progress made towards that goal,” he said.
The Jump ARCHES endowment is believed to be the largest in the world dedicated to health care engineering, said Kesh Kesavadas, director of the UI’s Health Care Engineering Systems Center and “engineer in chief” of Jump ARCHES. The expanded endowment will help engineer the “next generation of solutions to improve health care,” he said.
“This is a very unique model and we are very thankful to the DiSomma Foundation and our partners,” Bashir said.
Tom Hammerton, president of the OSF HealthCare Foundation, said the gift brings together organizations toward a common good and creates a “powerful engine for health care innovations.
“The successes we’ve already witnessed from our initial investment is largely responsible for the enthusiasm we share in committing additional support to expand the boundaries of discovery,” Bill DiSomma said in a release.
Jump ARCHES recently announced a new round of grants, including a robotic simulated arms that mimic abnormal muscle behaviors, software to plan complex heart patches in virtual reality, and methods to combine imaging and genomics to better predict the aggressiveness of lung cancer. The 34 groundbreaking projects in the last five years have led to the launch of two startup companies, Enduvo and AirV Labs, as well as millions of dollars in funding from external funding agencies and foundations, officials said.
The expansion of Jump ARCHES will also contribute to the new Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network, bringing the total non-state funding for those initiatives to $347.5 million, the UI said.