PCCM Team Receives NIH Grant to Develop Bio-digital Diagnostics

A team of pediatric critical care investigators, in collaboration with the Department of Biomedical Informatics, has been awarded a five-year, $3.1 million R01 grant entitled “Bio-digital Rapid Alert to Identify Neuromorbidity (BRAIN)” from the National Institute of Neurologic Diseases and Stroke (NINDS). The grant is effective August 1, 2021.

“The silent development and progression of neurologic morbidity, or neuromorbidity, among hospitalized, critically ill children represents a newly recognized and emerging epidemic,” said Bob Clark, MD, who is co-principal investigator and professor of Critical Care and Pediatrics. “Despite this, no standard clinical tool exists to identify patients, adult or pediatric, at risk for neuromorbidity or for real-time neurologic monitoring, in stark contrast to tools to monitor the heart, kidney, liver, and many other organs.” 

BRAIN is an innovative project combining contemporary brain injury biomarkers with proprietary machine learning algorithms that interrogate hundreds of features derived from over 30 variables selected from nine clinical domains—A thru I—to create “BRAIN A-I”. BRAIN A-I is a clinical tool designed to fill this gap by providing point-of-care neurologic monitoring for early detection of neuromorbidity in critically ill children. 

The multi-principal investigators include Alicia Au, MD, MS and Chris Horvat, MD, MHA from the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Critical Care Medicine and biomedical informatician Harry Hochheiser, PhD from the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biomedical Informatics.

This multi-departmental, multi-institutional, and multi-organizational NINDS grant also includes Critical Care Medicine faculty members Pat Kochanek, MD and Rob Bart, MD as well as investigators at Seattle Children’s Hospital, a collaboration with Abbott Diagnostics, and support from UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Brain Care Institute and Children’s Neuroscience Institute.