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Ventures Helps Indiana Startup Develop Life-Saving Technology

August 26, 2016

RHV Arrhythmotech

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $1.47 million to help support Arrhythmotech’s study of nerve activity in patients affected by atrial fibrillation, a disorder causing the heart’s upper chamber to contract irregularly instead of working together with the lower chamber.

Rose-Hulman Ventures is helping a medical startup break new ground in the fight against sudden fatal heart attacks, a leading cause of death in the United States.

Arrhythmotech LLC is pioneering new, noninvasive technology to simultaneously record and process both sympathetic nerve activity and electrocardiogram signals. Their work could help doctors better identify patients at risk of sudden fatal heart attacks, according to Dr. Peng-Sheng Chen, co-founder of the company.

Ventures’ role has been to develop the electronics used to detect and process human nerve and heart impulses while isolating those impulses from other noises present in the human body.

“I enjoyed working on the project because working on medical equipment was a new experience…[and]…I was designing a new device that would be used in the medical field to improve or even save lives,” says Matt Podczerwinski, a junior Rose-Hulman electrical engineering major from Madison, Indiana. Working with the guidance of Ventures project manager Zhan Chen, Podczerwinski has been the main intern on the Arrhythmotech project.

In July, the National Institutes of Health awarded Arrhythmotech a $1.47-million grant to begin testing their technology on volunteer human subjects. Specifically, the testing will help determine whether sympathetic nerve activity is associated with atrial fibrillation, a disorder causing the heart’s upper chambers to contract irregularly instead of working together with the lower chambers.

"After the grant period has ended, Arrhythmotech will determine the next steps to make the method widely available to the medical community for research, education, and patient care,” Peng-Sheng Chen says.

Chen and business partner Shien-Fong Lin launched Arrhythmotech in 2012 through the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation’s SpinUp program, which helps IU faculty and researchers convert promising ideas and technologies into new companies.

Chen is division chief of the Krannert Institute of Cardiology and is the Medtronic Zipes Chair in Cardiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Lin is a professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine and director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

This is one of many successful IURTC-aided projects to use Ventures for its engineering needs, observes Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of the IURTC.

“We think of [Ventures] as an extension of our own team,” Armstrong says. “They are really great partners.”