West Wireless Health Institute appoints Mehran Mehregany as EVP of Engineering, Chief of Engineering Research

By Brian Dolan

Mehran Mehregany, West Wireless Health InstituteThe West Wireless Health Institute has tapped engineer Mehran Mehregany as the institute's executive vice president of engineering and chief of engineering research, which makes Mehregany responsible for planning and implementing engineering research and academic initiatives. He officially takes the post November 2.

Mehregany previously served as a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Mehregany served as the director of the MEMS Research Center for seven years and spent three years as chairman of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department.

"My career thus far has centered on developing innovative microsystems, and I can't think of a more exciting place to continue my passion than in the emerging field of wireless health," said Mehregany. "Microsystems technology will help drive individualized medicine by enabling noninvasive, miniature sensors that can be placed on or in a patient's body. The opportunities are unlimited when you consider these small devices managing all types of diagnostics and therapy remotely through a cellular or body area network connection."

WWHI, launched on March 30, 2009, was founded with a $45 million gift from the Gary and Mary West Foundation. In addition to founding the Institute, Gary West is chairman of the board of directors. He is joined on the board by Dr. Eric J. Topol, chief academic officer at Scripps Health and holder of the Gary and Mary West Chair of Innovative Medicine, and Donald Jones, vice president of Health and Life Sciences at Qualcomm. The nonprofit Institute is headquartered in San Diego, California, the global hub for wireless life science research and development.

Corventis is the first start-up that the West Wireless Health Institute has committed to after it announced in June it would soon launch a clinical trial with the company. The randomized trial will be supported by the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) National Consortium, which consists of 38 of the most prestigious academic medical centers in the United States. The trial is designed to clinically validate remote wireless monitoring technology in proactively managing heart failure patients and reducing hospital readmissions.

The Corventis system monitors respiration rate, patient activity levels, and fluid levels in a patient’s body through a water-proof, adhesive sensor that is applied to the patient’s skin. Fluid levels are monitored by the sensor’s impedance detector, which measures buildup of body fluid through indirect electrical measurement. That can serve as a proxy for built up fluid levels in the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath and puts pressure on pulmonary arteries. That threatens to cause heart failure and may lead to hospitalization to remove the fluid.

Mehregany's work at WWHI is to lead a team of engineers that will create other sensors both adhesive and implantable that WWHI's partners can leverage. He will also lead the institute's academic pursuits and resource development for educating the industry as a whole.

"We couldn't ask for a more respected leader to build a world-class engineering team for our organization," said West. "In addition to contributing his notable research expertise, Mehran will recruit exceptional post-docs from around the world to help develop ingenious sensors and devices that will change medicine. The collaboration between engineers and clinical teams in our classrooms and labs will be groundbreaking. Mehran will work hand in hand with Dr. Topol and our medical experts to help execute this vision."

For more read the WWHI's full press release here