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MAE response to COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected everyday life around the world. Medical professionals and researchers are actively working to fight the virus.

The Ohio State University has been at the forefront with many faculty, staff, and students contributing to solutions against the COVID-19 pandemic. Several faculty and staff in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) are affiliated with Ohio State’s interdisciplinary Infectious Disease Institute (IDI).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has jolted the scientific community to reconsider the research approaches for rapid response,” said MAE professor Shaurya Prakash.

This has led to the formation of various interdisciplinary teams of medical professionals, virologists, engineers, social and data scientists coming together to understand various solutions.

PrakashPrakash co-leads IDI’s Prevention, Detection, and Therapies research theme. His co-leads are Karl Werbovetz and Mark Mitton-Fry from the College of Pharmacy.

Werbovetz led the team to develop a fact sheet on Cholorquine and Hydroxycholoroquine. The sheet details the history and relevance of these traditional anti-malarial medications for possible interest in treatment of COVID-19.

“The fact sheet also provides a cautionary tale for emerging treatment modalities with appropriate medical advice,” said Prakash.

Prakash is also in collaboration with MAE department chair, Vish Subramaniam, to investigate translation of their malaria diagnostic methods to possible use for detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

WolfMAE faculty and staff are also on the leading edge of translational technologies to help medical professionals. Kevin Wolf leads MAE’s 3D printing facility and is working with MAE Professors Blaine Lily, Sandra Metzler and ISE professor Jose Castro to design and manufacture at least 400 face shields as personal protective equipment (PPE) for the medical staff at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center

The team is using the College of Engineering’s 3D printing and injection molding resources to create the essential visors and face shields. Significant efforts are underway to translate MAE-pioneered designs to commercial, large-scale manufacturing.

The work being done by MAE professors Alok Sutradhar and Anthony Luscher is another example of MAE-led innovation. Sutradhar and Luscher are

working on evaluating their new technology for ‘tracheal stents’ to alleviate narrowing of the trachea due to prolonged placement of breathing tubes in COVID-19 patients.

“We are developing smart tracheal stents and a novel experimental system to mimic lower respiratory functions,” said Sutradhar.

Together they have been working towards developing novel experimental apparatus and smart stents. This technology is currently under development and is in its preliminary stages.

“With the rise of COVID-19 patients put on breathing tubes, this research would tremendously assist in helping them in the long run,” said Sutradhar. “It will also uncover new knowledge regarding the causes of stenosis, as well as creating smart designs for stents.

As the entire world continues to fight this disease, the interdisciplinary work in MAE and the broader Ohio State community is helping to provide information, awareness, and technology-based solutions for resolving the challenges posed by COVID-19. 

by Sam Cejda, MAE Communications Coordinator