News in Brief

** American Heart Association gives CMU grant**

The American Heart Association has given a grant to the department of biomedical engineering to found a program in which undergraduate students will be trained to apply their knowledge of the field to developing technologies for clinical cardiovascular medicine.

Many of the existing cardiovascular programs are at schools with medical schools. The Carnegie Mellon program will focus on the application of engineering and technology to this field.

“The hope is that this initial experience will lead students on a career path in biomedical engineering,” said Keith Cook, associate professor of biomedical engineering who is co-leading the initiative, in a university press release. “Our biomedical engineering department has a very strong core in cardiovascular research, so we sensed an opportunity with this program.”

The program will start in May. Students will then spend ten weeks working with Carnegie Mellon faculty on a project that applies biomedical engineering to cardiovascular research, in addition to shadowing clinicians at Allegheny General Hospital for one day every two weeks.

Director of the cardiovascular MRI program at Allegheny General Hospital Robert Biederman said in the press release, “Many of our young students that spend the summer with us go on to medical school and become independent clinicians trained with unique understandings of how to perform and interpret medical research.”

“In order for students to be effective researchers in this area, the students should understand cardiovascular medicine in general,” Cook added. “It is important that they see the application of clinical cardiovascular medicine, from imaging or catheter-based diagnosis to pharmacological or surgical treatment.”

UN gives honorable mention to ETC game

A game developed by students at the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) has received an honorable mention by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations PEACEapp competition.

The game, titled, Triangle of Life, was developed for children who have experienced trauma. Students developed the game while paired with doctors from the Allegheny Health Network who were looking for new ways for children to understand Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).

The doctors “were very interested in seeing if there was something the students could do to help with one particular area — the triangle of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that children have a difficult time with,” said Scott Stevens, a professor at the ETC and one of the project’s advisors. “All they had were pieces of paper with a diagram. They wanted something that was more impactful.”

The game involves a character named Lion, who tries to figure out why other animals are discontent. “You have to jump from platform to platform and categorize ideas as thoughts, feelings or behaviors to unlock access to additional platforms until you are eventually able to reach the exit and solve a story-relevant TF-CBT question to complete the level,” said lead programmer and game designer Eric Chang of the gameplay.
The team that developed the game met weekly with the developers of TF-CBT, doctors Anthony Mannarino and Judith Cohen.

“Working with the team from the Entertainment Technology Center was a terrific experience for us,” Cohen said in the release. “We were impressed with their interdisciplinary talents and how quickly they meshed together as a team. The African jungle theme was wonderful. When I first saw the prototype for the Lion character, I thought, ‘Kids are going to love this!’ The game does a great job of helping children learn how to use cognitive processing.”

Triangle of Life is expected to be released on multiple platforms in March.