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Homage to Robert Kalaba Part of March 26 Day-Long Event

April 01, 2005 —

Dedicated to the memory of a noted professor, filled with presentations of solid research by both faculty and graduate students, observed and supported by members of the Southern California biomedical community, the 9th Fred S. Grodins Graduate Research Symposium scored an impressive success March 26.

Robert Kalaba 1926-2004

Michael C. K. Khoo, event chairman, said that the symposium, a nearly decade-old tradition for the USC Viterbi School’s department of biomedical research  provided an occasion to review current work and to look back on recent progress.

Khoo, chair of the departmnt who holds the Dwight C. and Hildegrad E. Baum chair, noted that "in the past year we were lucky to have recruited professor Ellis Meng to our faculty…and saddened by the passing of professor Robert Kalaba."

Professor Gerald Loeb (blue shirt) talks to (from left) Dr. Todd Whitehurst, Virginia Shemanski and Mike Faltys of Advanced Bionics, which is marketing devices based on Loeb's bion research.

A special part of the day-long program was devoted to a tribute to Kalaba,  who died September 29, 2004, and whose wife Wilma and children attended as guests of honor.

A protege of legendary mathematician John von Neumann, Kalaba “had been with the the department since its earliest days, and we are indebted to him for his role in helping USC-BME develop is reputation as an internationally renowned center of expertise in biomedical modeling and systems physiology,” said Khoo.

Industry participation was prominent, thanks to hard work by organizers in spreading information about the event. Advanced Bionics, for example, which is marketing the bion technology invented by Professor Gerald Loeb, sent a three member team to the event.

Nineteen full-scale lecture presentations, dealing with a wide range of research in building medical devices, devising sophisticated modeling systems for biological systems, and new insights leading to potential paths toward imaging or therapeutic systems, were part of the event, held at the Midtown Radission hotel.

As is traditional for the symposium, graduate students used the occasion to present their research on posters – 35 of them,  on such subjects as  “The effect of Talker Variability in Cochlear Implants,” “Feasibility of Acoustical Tweezers,” “Image Processing for a Retinal Prosthesis Using a Digital Signal Processor” and “Datamining for Average Images in a Digital Hand Atlas.”

Professor Michael C. K. Khoo (left) discusses symposium progress with Ph.D candidate Winston Tran, a member of the student coordinating committee that helped to stage the event. 

The top presentations and posters were singled out for recognition.
The Grodins Graduate Research Award went to  Zexun (Susan) Zhou, for her work on "Intracellular Phosphorylation of Lamivudine."
For Oral Presentations: 
  • 1st prize:  Pramod Butte,  "Intra-Operative Time-Resolved Laser Induced Fluorescence Spectroscopy of Human Glial Tumors"
  • 2nd prize: Olga Ivanova,  "Cardiorespiratory Variability in Normal and Sleep Disordered Breathing States: A Comprehensive Model"
  • 3rd prize:  Kuo-Chih (Vincent) Liao, "Design and Fabrication of Disposable, Percutaneous Chemical Sensors"
For Poster Presentations:
  • 1st prize: Ramakrishnan Iyer, "Bioreactor for Developing Tissue Engineered Mitral Valve Chordae under Applied Tension"
  • 2nd prize: Peman Montazemi,  "Control of Movement using Spinal-Like Regulators"
  • 3rd prize: Wenli Wang, "Cardiac Autonomic Function of Mild Sleep-Disordered Breathing"
click on the image to download a pdf copy of the proceedings.

The day's presentations were supported and observed by members of the area’s biomed industrial companies, including Advanced Bionics, Amgen, Medtronic-Minimed, Vivometrics,  Midmark Diagnostics Group, and Second Sight.

Supporting organizations included the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems, the Alfred Mann Institute, the Neuroscience Graduate Forum, the USC Engineering Graduate Student Association, the USC Graduate and Professional Senate, and  the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control student chapter.

Members of the 9th Grodins Committee, which orgainized the event, were  Zexun (Susan) Zhou, Winston Tran, Aditi Ray, Zheng Lin, Emanuel Gottlieb, and Bardia Behabadi.”
The Grodins website is at http://bmsrs.usc.edu/~grodins/index.html

The department of biomedical engineering is now home to 14 professors, 180 graduate students, and 248 undergraduates,
Biomed's Designing Women: Clockwise from lower left: Neha Parikh, Yalin Yuksel, Rachel Bitton, Ronalee Lo, and Aarti Shetty discuss their research in the student poster session.