NEWS | February 17, 2012

UC Davis to collaborate with RTI International to refine point-of-care technologies

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The UC Davis Point-of-Care Technologies Center plans to collaborate with RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to ensure the accuracy and efficacy of point-of-care (POC) technologies used in emergency and disaster settings.

The collaboration combines UC Davis's award-winning research in environmental testing and RTI's expertise in best-in-class thermoelectric technologies to create innovative solutions for ensuring the accuracy and efficacy of POC technology.

paramedics © iStockphotoPOC is defined as medical testing at or near the site of patient care. First responders employ POC at disasters and emergencies to improve outcomes using evidence-based triage, diagnosis and monitoring of patients and victims. Some of this current technology includes cardiac and glucose monitors, diagnostic imaging devices and units for assessing blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature, Although POC's portable design is useful for field applications, other refinements are needed to maximize the potential of these devices in disaster settings.

"Many devices currently used by first-responder teams cannot withstand the austere environmental conditions that are often present at disaster sites," said Gerald Kost, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and director of the UC Davis Point-of-Care Technologies Center. "Environmental factors, such as extremes of temperature and humidity, can affect the accuracy of results and lead to clinical misinterpretations. Our goal is to find innovative and reliable solutions to overcome these challenges and develop new technologies to protect POC supplies."

UC Davis researchers have extensive experience in understanding the effect of environmental stresses on POC supplies. Previous testing of POC devices conducted in field simulations in the UC Davis laboratory have shown that glucose monitors, hand-held blood chemistry analyzers and other classes of devices give false readings or fail to respond under extremely low and high temperatures and other conditions.

The collaboration with RTI International, a leading developer of advanced thermoelectric technology with expertise to reduce the vulnerability of medical supplies in field settings, aims to address these concerns. The research of Rama Venkatasubramanian, senior research director at the Center for Solid State Energetics at RTI International, is of particular interest to UC Davis researchers.

Venkatasubramanian and his team have designed a first-generation thermoelectric portable container to monitor and protect vaccines, insulin and other medical items from exposure to extreme temperatures. These first-generation devices are being developed further for field-testing and validation, and RTI International has a technology partner that can potentially manufacture large volumes of portable thermoelectric containers.

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 631-bed acute-care teaching hospital, an 800-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit