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UOIT professor receives prestigious international award from IBM

Groundbreaking work aims to help medical profession detect potential life-saving changes

OSHAWA, ON. - Understanding the subtleties of life and what they can tell us about caring for and ultimately reducing mortality rates in critically ill premature newborns is the focus of Dr. Carolyn McGregor's research. Her efforts, in particular the work she has done over the past year and a half in partnership with IBM, have led to the international computing giant presenting the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) associate professor with a prestigious innovation award.

Dr. McGregor, who is also a Canada Research Chair in Health Informatics, received the InfoSphere Innovation Award at a special client luncheon in late October at the IBM Global Information on Demand Conference in Las Vegas.

This first-of-a-kind research project, known as Artemis, is helping 'make sense' of the constant stream of data collected from critically ill premature babies so that doctors will be able to recognize the subtle changes that can reliably predict a deterioration in condition and allow them to intervene more quickly. Using IBM InfoSphere Stream software to help manage the stream of biomedical data, such as heart rate and respiration, the software analyzes environmental data gathered from advanced sensors and more traditional monitoring equipment on and around the babies.

"I am truly honoured to be receiving this award because I am so passionate about this research and the great potential it holds for eliminating the pain and anguish that too many families deal with each year following the death of baby," said Dr. McGregor. "More and more research is starting to show that by watching the body in a more complex way than the human eye can, the body tells its own story earlier."

Because of its potential to understand that story and foretell the signs of illness, Dr. McGregor's research holds great hope for reducing mortality rates in premature babies here in Canada and around the world. That's particularly critical given the March of Dimes reports that more than one million premature babies die every year. Dr. McGregor is also collaborating with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to pilot the research as she gathers further information that shows its benefits.

"All of us at UOIT would like to congratulate Dr. McGregor on earning this outstanding recognition," said Dr. Ronald Bordessa, president of UOIT. "This award underscores the importance and relevance of her research and the vast potential it holds for neonatal care. It's also reflective of UOIT's commitment to groundbreaking research that holds potential for our communities locally, nationally and globally."

It was 10 years ago that Dr. McGregor began to research new approaches for real-time patient monitoring and data-mining to support clinical research. She was invited to a neonatal intensive care unit and realized that even though health-care professionals had advanced equipment for collecting data, they were using pen and paper to record information and support clinical practice and decision-making. Drawing on the knowledge she had gained in business intelligence by working with banks and retail organizations, she knew there was potential to improve the way computers could be used to support patient care.

Dr. McGregor heads a team of professors, students and support specialists at UOIT that is working with leading international hospitals and high-calibre industry partners to create innovative solutions and bring them to the mainstream of health care. Opportunities to participate in and access this research means UOIT students will graduate with the knowledge to be leaders in this advanced support for critical care, and to also take these approaches to watching the body beyond the critical care setting.

About the University of Ontario Institute of Technology
The University of Ontario Institute of Technology advances the discovery and application of knowledge through a technology-enriched learning environment and the delivery of innovative market-driven programs responsive to the needs of students and industry. With more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in more than 90 programs, the university promotes social engagement, fosters critical thinking and integrates outcomes-based learning experiences inside and outside the classroom. The university's commitment to accelerating economic growth and social innovation is realized through faculty research collaborations with leading organizations such as Ontario Power Generation, IBM, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Durham Regional Police Service. To find out more, visit uoit.ca.