media release

Grads carry on roles with biomedical spinoff

October 10, 2013
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Contact: Marianne Meadahl, PAMR 778.782.4323; Marianne_Meadahl@sfu.ca

Photo: http://at.sfu.ca/iUPDly

Student Ram Meyyappan’s interest in carrying out research related to Simon Fraser University professor Andy Hoffer’s new Lungpacer medical device resulted in unexpected dividends.

Meyyappan, who convocates today with an M.Sc. in biomedical physiology and kinesiology, became so interested in Lungpacer’s technology that he wound up creating an important aspect of it.

SFU spin-off company Lungpacer Medical Inc. is developing a device to prevent diaphragm atrophy in critically ill patients who must use mechanical ventilators. Often, they fail to breathe independently again.

The device will electrically activate the diaphragm to keep it strong while the patient remains on the ventilator, improving the patient’s chances of weaning from the ventilator and breathing independently.

Meyyappan used his knowledge of physiology to design the system’s strategy and technology for stimulating the diaphragm for the appropriate time, intensity and duration.

It also became the topic of his thesis, which has been submitted for international patents.

“My contribution is coming up with a method to determine when to stimulate the diaphragm in synchrony with the ventilator,” says Meyyappan. “I came up with a set of rules for how strongly to stimulate the diaphragm based on individual patient needs.”

He then worked with the company’s biomedical engineers to develop the system circuitry for Lungpacer’s control unit.

Today, Meyyappan is one of six graduated SFU biomedical physiologists or engineers to be hired full-time at Lungpacer, which works out of a lab in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology.

He is playing a key role in the pre-clinical testing of the beta system prior to human clinical trials next year.

“The amount I’ve learned from my peers in the company has been incredible, it was an important part of my graduate education,” says Meyyappan. “It really demonstrated the meaning of research and development and although it was demanding, it was shaping me for the better.”

Meyyappan came to SFU in 2009 from India on an SFU Targeted Graduate Entrance Scholarship and will remain in Canada on a three-year working visa while applying for permanent residency. 

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.

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Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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