Prof. Wootton Joins NIH Grant Funded Project Team

October 05, 2016

David Wootton, professor of mechanical engineering, C. V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering and associate director, Maurice Kanbar Center for Biomedical Engineering at the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, will be an integral member of a project team studying and developing tools for combating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). As announced on Monday, October 3, Raanan Arens, MD, chief of the Division of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, (CHAM) and professor of pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was awarded a $3.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the study.

"We are looking forward to this exciting and challenging project, and eager to continue our collaboration," says Professor Wootton. "This will be the first time that we can apply our biomechanics modeling techniques to patients in natural sleep, and to compare airway biomechanics asleep and awake."  

Along with Wootton, a team of investigators from different institutions and fields, including pediatricians, radiologists, image processing and analysis experts and biomechanical engineers will work on the project under the direction of Arens. Together they will build a computer simulation model of the upper respiratory tract and surrounding tissues to better understand the causes of OSA and discover ways to improve children’s health outcomes. A 5-year observational study, enrolling 140 adolescents between 12 and 17 years old, will then analyze and evaluate the various treatment options for OSA to better understand the causes of the disorder and effectiveness of certain therapies.

Professor Wootton says, "The project will support a research fellow here for the next five years, and will leverage several Cooper Union mechanical engineering master's degree projects, particularly the work of Steven Persak and Eric Ramos."

At The Cooper Union, Professor Wootton teaches fundamental courses in mechanics and mechanical engineering and electives in bioengineering. His primary research is the investigation of the mechanics of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, using advanced MR imaging and engineering tools to estimate air pressures and structural properties of the upper airway. His expertise in this field will help provide a novel approach to understanding the complexities of OSA.

A link to the publication can be found here.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.