Weimer receives NSF CAREER Award to improve safety and efficacy of machine learning, AI systems

James Weimer, assistant professor of computer science and noted medical-device entrepreneur, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to improve the safety and efficacy of systems that use advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques.

Learning-enabled medical cyber-physical systems (LE-MCPS) are smart medical systems that provide actionable feedback to caregivers. They use machine learning and AI to enhance their functionality and decision-making capabilities.

One example is a stroke detection device in hospitals that processes accelerometer data to not only alert nurses when a stroke is suspected, but also personalize it to the patient such that a maximum number of false alarms is guaranteed. Another example is a postpartum hemorrhage predictor that provides timely insight into the risk of hemorrhage for a woman prior to childbirth, such that clinical care teams can plan ahead and be prepared to take prompt action after delivery.

However, LE-MCPS rely heavily on experimentation to generate data for design and assurance, which can lead to inefficiencies and increased patient risk. Weimer and his team plan to use the more than $570,000 grant to develop technology that will improve efficiency and reduce the possibility of errors.

The CAREER Award project will leverage Weimer’s expertise—specifically his co-founding of companies Neuralert and Vasowatch—to study the LE-MCPS problem in the context of stroke detection and postpartum hemorrhage prediction.

“We’re addressing foundational technical challenges I’ve identified through my experience in building real-world medical devices,” says Weimer, who is also faculty affiliate of the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering (VISE) and the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS).

In 2022, Weimer was one of two Vanderbilt faculty who received the distinction of Best Invention by Time magazine editors. He created Neuralert, a lightweight, noninvasive wristband device that automates stroke detection and alerting. Neuralert’s stroke detection device can identify the onset of asymmetric movement in as little as 15 minutes, even if the wearer is asleep. In 2021, the FDA named Neuralert a Breakthrough Device.

Weimer receives NSF CAREER Award