Dacso-Pollonini Lab

The Abramson Center Junior Research Program

for UH Undergraduates 

The work of the Dacso-Pollonini Lab is part of a larger effort on the part of the Abramson Center, housed in the College of Technology at the University of Houston, to advance the science of remote patient monitoring (RPM). The ultimate goal of RPM is a suite of flexible health management solutions that can be tailored to address a range of different needs of consumers, family caregivers, clinicians and health systems. All of the devices are designed to collect and aggregate essential behavioral, physiologic and therapeutic metrics into meaningful and appropriate personal health management tools delivered to patients and their caregivers when and where they need them. This continuous, data-enriched, networked approach to health is designed to enhance patient autonomy and clinical outcomes, and to become a foundation for the future of medicine.

The Abramson Center Junior Research Program provides motivated University of Houston undergraduates with a rare opportunity to conduct research that is interdisciplinary, transcending traditional academic disciplines. Self-motivated and engaged students in biomedical engineering, computer science, technology, and marketing are encouraged to review the available research opportunities. If selected for the program, the student researcher will enroll in a one-hour independent study under the direction of Dr. Clifford C. Dacso or Dr. Luca Pollonini. This research project then has the potential to evolve into a summer fellowship opportunity or a senior honors thesis.


Application Process:

Students interested in the Abramson Center Junior Research Program must submit the following by October 1, 2012:

1. Resume or CV
 Must include first and last name, email address, degree plan, previous work and/or research experiences, previous leadership and service experiences

2. One Letter of Recommendation from a Faculty Member (delivered in a sealed envelope or submitted separately by faculty member)

3. Unofficial UH Transcript

4. One Page Statement of Purpose

Must include which current research project is of interest to you and why, and your career objectives

Submit all application materials to Karen Weber, Room 211 in the Honors College no later than October 1, 2012.


Current Research Projects Available: 

Remote Patient Monitoring Devices Research and Development

BiOx2. Noninvasive, miniature, wireless sensors for cardiac and local muscle oxygenation and performance. Local muscle oxygenation and performance is determined using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) techniques; cardiac function is based on a combination of electrocardiography and photoplethysmography. Eventually, the system will have application in in-home rehabilitation (e.g., after stroke). Research plans for 2012-2013: Second-phase human testing. Prototype development.

Metabolic Syndrome Blue Box. A noninvasive monitoring system for type 2 diabetes that uses exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a correlate for serum insulin and glucose levels in insulin-resistant patients. Research plans for 2012-2013: Complete first-phase human testing to determine best correlates. Build prototype using a novel nano electronic nose (developed by our partners at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology) that makes use of cross-selective and sensitive sensor arrays that are trained to detect disease biomarkers.

Blue Scale. A novel in-home monitoring device for heart failure. Through low-cost biosensors, the Blue Scale employs a scale, a photoplethysmograph, 4-lead EKG data and two bioimpedance sensors to give patients and caregivers real-time, actionable data on cardiac function. Research plans for 2012-2013: Refine algorithms. Conduct in-home human testing in our partner community, Houston’s Pecan Park.

Prototype Sensor for Asthma Management in Youth. A mobile-phone-based interface between a handheld spirometer and an interactive casual game based on the patient’s asthma care plan. This prototype for real-time, remote management of pediatric asthma combines a Bluetoothed, portable, low-cost spirometer (mobileSpiro--developed by our partners at Rice University) with a mobile-phone-based game (Azmo the Dragon). Research plans for 2012-2013: Explore incorporating global timing mechanics into the game. Build and test beta prototype.

Nonlinear Algorithms for Accurate, Personalized Classification of Data Collected via the Biosensors. A large data-mining study that is the first step toward developing smart classification techniques based on dynamic systems modeling and support vector machines. Research plans for 2012-13: Data analysis. Develop and test an exception-monitoring application for ICUs.

Mobile Health Data Safety and Security. A National Science Foundation-sponsored project to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data transmission from mobile health sensors. Research plans for 2012-2013: Conduct clinical tests.

A Translational Approach to Validate in Vivo Antitumor Effects of Chloroquine on Breast Cancer Risk. Funder: Department of Defense/Congressionally Directed Medical Research Projects. The goal of this project is to determine the effect of chloroquine exposure  on breast cancer occurrence in female returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) serving between 1961 and 1990 in both malaria-endemic and non-endemic areas. This research is built upon compelling in-vitro data conducted at Baylor College of Medicine that shows that the antimalarial drug chloroquine exerts powerful anti-tumor effects in animals. Research plans for 2012-2013: 1. Construct a cohort of female returned Peace Corps volunteers who served from 1961 through 1990 in both malaria-endemic and non-endemic areas. 2. Examine the association between chloroquine exposure and breast cancer in a group of returned RPCVs who served between 1961 and 1990, using an online survey instrument.

IEEE Healthcare Innovation Conference: Translational Engineering in Health & Medicine. The 3rd annual IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society meeting will be held in Houston’s Texas Medical Center November 7–9, 2012. Dr. Dacso is the Conference Chair. Interested students can assist with the conference administration and evaluation, and may be invited to serve as reviewers of abstracts submitted by students. For more information, visit http://healthinnov.embs.org/2012conf/.


Lab Team:

Clifford C. Dacso, M.D., MPH, MBA

Luca Pollonini, Ph.D.

For more information about the research opportunities available through the Dacso-Pollonini Lab, please contact Dr. Clifford C. Dacso or Dr. Luca Pollonini.


banner image: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock.com