On several recent ideaXme episodes, we have spent time on different topics pertaining to human health, disease, degeneration and aging, focused on a variety of therapeutic and preventative interventions being developed in the private sector of the economy, both here in the U.S. and more broadly globally.
We’ve also had representatives from various independent agencies of the United States Federal Government, the UK government (UKRI), and other foreign governmental agencies, join us to discuss many of the exciting public sector discoveries and development occurring, that possess massive trickle down benefits to the general public.
For example, over the last few months ideaXme has had several guests that have worked in different roles within NASA (U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration) talking about how research in space, can help improve the lives of us on Earth, where topics have included the bio-dynamics of sub-orbital flight training, astrobiology on the International Space Station (ISS), and even isolation chamber training for physical / psychological dynamics pertaining to future missions back to the Moon and Mars.
Today, we are going to go down another very interesting related path as we are joined by an expert thought leader from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military with a mission to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.
Originally known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the agency was created in February 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik 1 in 1957. By collaborating with academic, industry, and government partners, DARPA has a mission to formulate and execute research and development projects to expand the frontiers of technology and science, often beyond immediate U.S. military requirements.
Dr. Van Gieson received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, and joined DARPA as a Program Manager in August 2017, with the goal of using host-based methods to mitigate the impacts of emerging disease threats. He explores epigenetic and real-time monitoring approaches that can dynamically guide healthcare decisions and therapy, and new methods of increasing patient survival in austere environments using intelligent systems partnered with local care providers.
Throughout his career, Dr. Van Gieson has worked with private and inter-agency government partners to build diagnostic and healthcare solutions, an example being a novel patient transport system known as the Containerized BioContainment System, a platform that received an “R&D 100” award and is currently in use by the Departments of State and Health and Human Services.
Dr. Van Gieson has published on topics ranging from genomic analysis to autonomous systems. He has also served as the chief judge on the Nokia Sensing XChallenge and as a judge on the QualComm Tricorder XChallenge on behalf of the XPrize Foundation.
And most recently, Dr. Van Gieson’s team at DARPA is waiting on emergency use approval (EUA), from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a potential “game-changing” test, originally developed for diagnosing those who have become poisoned by chemical warfare, which may be able to detect the presence coronovirus (COVID-19) in as little as 24 hours after a person is infected, well before they come infectious, filling a major diagnostic gap worldwide.
On this episode we will hear from Dr. Van Gieson about:
His background; how he developed an interest in science, in chemical and biological engineering, and how he decided he wanted to go pursue a career at DARPA. A background of DARPA, and how a career at DARPA is structured. The novel Covid-19 test that his team has developed. The Epigenetic Characterization and Observation (ECHO) program which is building a man-portable device that analyzes an individual’s epigenetic “fingerprint.” The Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program aimed at delivering non-pharmacological (electrical) treatments for pain, general inflammation, post-traumatic stress, severe anxiety, and trauma, that employ precise, closed-loop, non-invasive modulation of the patient’s peripheral nervous system. The TAILOR Artificial Intelligence (AI) system for human performance optimization.