On Science and Tattoo’s: One that you might DEFINITELY want to get!



The Howell Foundation will be kicking off the year with a presentation on tattoos… not the kind that stay with you for life, but the one that can definitely help in saving your life.

What was once thought to be science fiction is becoming a reality, thanks to the research of Dr. Todd Coleman at UCSD.  His research is making strides in marrying computer sciences with biology and neurology through the elaboration of a flexible, portable “tattoo” that picks up electric signals in the body and transmits them wirelessly to any medical electrical device through applied mathematics.

This “tattoo” seems to have all the components of your cell phone:  a wireless antenna that allows gathered information to be transmitted, the ability to wirelessly transfer power onto the device, Light Emitting Devices (LED) and light sensing devices to pick up information on the body’s blood oxygenation, temperature, your body’s mechanical strains and a variety of electrical signals on the surface of the body -- all in about a square inch area.

The applications of the technology are very encouraging, as they open the possibility of monitoring a whole variety of aliments in the body.  Since the neurotransmitters in our brain are electrical, pretty much everything that goes on in our bodies can be monitored by this tattoo through brain signals.

Taking neo-natal care as an example, Dr. Coleman explains the benefits of the application of this technology.  The ability to monitor a premature baby’s brain waves can help identify if his or her brain is fully developed or is having seizures; helping medical staff take appropriate –and more importantly -- immediate action that can make a difference in the baby’s life. 
    
The process of developing this “technology that travels with you” had its set of challenges.  “Biology is soft; whereas technology is rigid” comments Dr. Coleman.   Making the semiconductor “wafer” soft and flexible enough to move with the body’s skin was originally patented by Dr. John Roger form the University of Illinois.   In collaboration with the research group of John Rogers, Dr. Coleman is now able to develop new applications for the technology geared towards creating synergy between bio-engineering, neurosciences, medicine and technology to monitor an individual’s health for life -- from neonatal care, to chronic disease management up to cognitive monitoring as we age, all in a non-invasive manner.

And the possibilities are endless.  Media has even talked about flying a drone with the brain based on the technology.  Dr. Coleman’s work has been featured in a myriad of media:  
  • MSN News – “Temporary Tattoos that can measure brain signals wirelessly“
  • Time – “Finally, Tattoos That Let You Control Objects with Your Mind“
  • New York Observer- “These Temporary Tats Could Let You Move Objects with Your Mind“
  • Discovery News – “Electronic Telekinesis from Temporary Tattoo“
  • Smithsonian – “These Temporary Tattoos Could Fly Drones“
  • NBC News – “How neuroscientists are hacking into brain waves to open new frontiers“
  • AAAS News: “Machines That Communicate With the Body“
  • Txchnologist – “Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible“
  • i09 – “Temporary tattoos could make electronic telepathy and telekinesis possible“
  • Irish Times: “brain research faces ethical issues“
So you might want to think twice about that tat! In the meantime, the advances that Dr. Coleman is achieving through several inter- and intra-collaborative efforts locally and nationally can be seen in this 2012 presentation at USCD. And, for an up-to-the-minute review of his latest work, come hear him speak to the Howell Foundation on February 13th.


Wireless Tattoo Electronics with Todd P. Coleman -- Founders Symposium 2012



About Dr. Coleman: 

Todd P. Coleman received the B.S. degrees in electrical engineering (summa cum laude), as well as computer engineering (summa cum laude) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2000, along with the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, in 2002, and 2005. During the 2005-2006 academic year, he was a postdoctoral scholar at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital in computational neuroscience. From the fall of 2006, until June 2011, he was an Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Neuroscience at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign. As of July 2011, he is an Associate Professor in the Bioengineering department of the University of California, San Diego, where he co-Directs the Center for Perinatal Health.  His research is highly inter-disciplinary, lying at the intersection of applied mathematics, scalable machine learning, bio-electronics, and medicine.  Current applications of those synergies include perinatal health, chronic disease management, and cognitive monitoring during aging.

Dr. Coleman collaborates with the following:
  • Center for Perinatal Health (co-director)
  • Department of Bioengineering
  • Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (affiliate)
  • Interfaces Graduate Program
  • Institute of Engineering and Medicine
  • Institute for Neural Computation
  • Information Theory & Applications Center
  • Center for Human Imagination
  • Center of Excellence in Nano-medicine
  • Clinical and Translational Research Institute
  • UC-HBCU Initiative: Pathways to UCSD
  • NSF Center for the Science of Information
About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:

The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is committed to keeping the women we love healthy, advancing women’s health through research and educating women to be catalysts for improving family health in the community.

The organization does so by funding scholarships to scientists researching issues affecting women’s health; providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, researchers, and authors to convey the timely information on topics relevant to women’s health and the health. of their families through its Lecture and Evening Series, and by funding research initiatives that will create women’s health awareness and advocacy in the community. 


For more information about the Doris A. Howell Foundation, please visit www.howellfoundation.org 

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Pictures from Dr. Coleman's site. Summary prepared by Carolyn Northrup and taken from the following Sources: 

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