ITI researchers' projects receive funding from DTI


Allie Arp, CSL

The Digital Transformation Institute (DTI) may have just been founded this spring, but it has already funded 26 research projects to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the funding, the researchers will also receive access to the computing Suite and Microsoft Azure computing and storage to help complete their multi-disciplinary projects.

“I am delighted to see the interdisciplinary nature of the projects led by the CSL faculty members," said R. Srikant, CSL Professor and DTI co-director. “The collaboration between engineers, computer scientists, epidemiologists and medical/healthcare professionals will produce both immediate and lasting benefits to society.”

Two of the projects involve ITI reseacrhers. Read on to see how they’re using high-level computing to make a difference in the fight against coronavirus.

COVID-19 Medical Best Practice Guidance System
One of the major issues in treating patients who have coronavirus is a shortage of staff trained to treat them. The goal of this project, led by ITI researchers Lui Sha, is to develop a
Lui Sha
Lui Sha
guidance system that would provide real-time recommendations for patients based on the patient’s condition and current COVID-19 guidelines and research. Part of the project involves training medical professionals, which is why Sha is collaborating with physicians from OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois and the University of Chicago Medical School.

The system will be backed by verifiable computations and models, which are aimed at improving the efficiency of medical treatment. The first step is to develop a real-time guidance system module for physicians to use when patients have developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which is the deadliest and most complex phase of COVID-19. The group then will create a guidance module for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Sha is the Donald B. Gillies Chair in Computer Science (CS). Co-PIs include Maryam Rahmanjheris and Grigore Rosu of Illinois; Paul Jezioczak of the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria; and Priti Jani of the University of Chicago.

Tamer Basar
Tamer Basar
Algorithms and Software Tools for Testing and Control of COVID-19
There have been a variety of approaches across the country for how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In order to understand which control strategies work, researchers need to analyze thousands of data points with little effort There is currently extensive testing of various populations for antibodies, which is expected to inform policymaking.

Several CSL faculty and ITI researchers have come together to develop algorithms that will combine real-time testing data with epidemiological models to better inform decision makers on what effect control strategies like social distancing have on the spread of the coronavirus. Led by CSL Associate Professor Prashant Mehta, this research group also includes ITI’s Tamer Başar and Carolyn Beck, along with CSL alum Philip Paré, now at Purdue, all
Carolyn Beck
Carolyn Beck
of whom have spread of disease modeling, analysis, and control experience.

Mehta is a faculty member in mechanical science and engineering (MechSE), and an affiliate of electrical and computer engineering (ECE). Başar is the Swanlund Endowed Chair & CAS Professor in ECE. Beck is a professor in industrial and enterprise systems engineering. The other Co-PIs are Rebecca Smith and Matthew West of Illinois.

More information about each of these projects and the full listing of projects is available on the DTI website.