BioBE has received funding for a new project as part of the new University of Oregon – Oregon Health Sciences University (UO-OHSU) Collaborative Seed Grant Program! BioBE’s Dr. Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, and Dr. Bob Martindale, Professor of Surgery, Chief of Gastrointestinal and General Surgery, and Medical Director of the Hospital Nutritional Service at OHSU, will be leading the project, along with Dr. Brendan Bohannan, Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology at the UO Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and BioBE’s Drs. Ashkaan Fahimipour and Sue Ishaq.
These grants are designed to foster high-impact pilot research between the two universities and to spark long-term collaborations. The full list of award recipients can be found here.
The project is set to begin in July; “Predicting Healthcare-Associated Clostridioides difficile Infection Probabilities in Inpatient Units”
Approximately 10% of patients will be accidentally harmed during inpatient medical care due to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These infections prolong patient illness, cause death, and financially burden hospitals and society; predicting when and why HAIs will occur is a key goal for fundamental and applied healthcare science. We aim to gather key data to pilot the development of new statistical and machine learning models, which map patients’ probabilities of acquiring HAIs onto the spatial distributions of living microorganisms from hospital surfaces, using C. difficile infection rates in inpatient units at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) as a model system. Our models will leverage information about in situ distributions of viable indoor microbes across patient rooms, and assembled genomes of C. difficile isolates from hospital surfaces, to probe the hypothesis that the built environment contributes to patient HAIs by inadvertently providing reservoirs of microbial pathogens with particular functional characteristics. Results of this pilot study will provide the empirical foundation for larger-scale future experiments, that will contribute to the refinement of predictive statistical models through the study of more hospital buildings, and investigations of alternate fomites and microbial reservoirs including physicians’ and nursing staff’s clothing, medical equipment, computer keyboards, and personal phones. A coherent understanding of the most salient environmental sources of HAIs could improve the placement of patients, assist in monitoring vectors of concern for infection control, and ultimately guide building design and operation.
The new testing facility will provide the information necessary to overcome one of the major barriers to the growth of mass timber: acoustics performance. Mass products are growing in popularity as an innovative building material, particularly in multifamily residential dwellings for which they are structurally well-suited. However, these products’ ability to reduce floor-to-ceiling noise transfer has not been tested. Locally sourced testing of mass timber materials would give building owners, contractors, building code officials, and design and engineering professionals the confidence needed to demonstrate that these products are cost-effective and meet performance requirements.
Currently, the only way to test acoustics performance is to ship samples to testing facilities on the East Coast. This drastically increases project costs and construction schedule. Constructing an acoustic testing facility in Oregon will allow the mass timber industry to become a hub for both the development and production of mass timber products for the US and internationally.
While mass timber is the driving force behind the proposal to acquire this facility, multiple other traded sectors and industries in Oregon and across the Northwest would benefit from the facility, including aviation, other buildings material manufacturers such as glazing and curtain walls, façade cladding, masonry, and straw bale.
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) Board of Directors awarded Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg the Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award for Innovation. Kevin was nominated for his work in daylighting design research, education, and engagement—work that represents many collaborations over almost two decades, and for which Kevin extends his gratitude to many great colleagues.
“Our work in the field of daylight design is first and foremost about creating high quality indoor environments for people to live, work, and play within. The fact that the energy efficiency community, that is often focused on energy savings, has recognized this work as innovative is very rewarding. It is so important to balance energy priorities with human experiential priorities, and I believe there is value in exploring the synergy among these two goals.”
While accepting the award, Kevin acknowledged NEEA’s unique impact and global reach, attributing his own success in part to the organization’s generosity. NEEA supported Kevin during his graduate studies at the University of Washington, and he has worked alongside the organization for nearly two decades, while at the University of Idaho and University of Oregon. He expresses his deep gratitude for NEEA’s continuous support of students in this area of study in the ESBL at University of Oregon. Thank you to NEEA for this prestigious award, and congratulations to Kevin for his accomplishments!
For more information on the award, view the press release on NEEA.org.