Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma Legacy Lives On
On Thursday, May 8, Fort Detrick welcomed Dr. Corinna Lathan, founder and Chief Executive Officer of AnthroTronix, as a guest speaker for the Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma Legacy Lecture.
The Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma Legacy Lecture series was established following the passing of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program employee on January 23, 2013. Over her career at CDMRP, Terry-Koroma was responsible for the management of seven overall CDMRP programs totaling more than $1 billion in research funding. Her tireless and humble efforts were instrumental in finding and funding innovative research critical to the medical needs of service members and their families. The lecture committee recognizes (and will continue to recognize) outstanding researchers/consumers whose work not only makes a significant impact but also embodies the principles and efforts upheld by Terry-Koroma herself.
Lathan has a diverse and extensive background in research teaching and consulting in human performance engineering, medical device design and assistive technology. Her research on bridging the human-machine interface through body-wearable sensors and mobile computing platforms has revolutionized the industry; earning her not only the title of Maryland Innovator of the Year but also landing her a spot on both the Top 100 World Inventors and Most Creative People in Business lists.
Founding her company in 1999, Lathan was searching for ways instrumentation of tele robotics and virtual reality technology could have dual-use purposes. A pioneer in the industry when it launched, Anthrotronix, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, is an award-winning innovative technology company supported by a remarkable team of creative visionaries, designers, engineers and scientists; all dedicated to developing advanced biomedical technology intended to improve lives in the areas of health, defense and education. The company just recently celebrated its 15th birthday on May 21.
The inspiration for starting her own company was very relevant to what Lathan spent the next hour talking about. Lathan honored Terry-Koroma's passion for children with disabilities through her lecture entitled, "The Future of Human-Machine Interaction."
"We had this sense from the start that technology was really meant to bridge the gap between the human-machine interface; that technology really was bridging what humans wanted to do with the ability to do just that," explained Lathan. "Whether it's a child with a disability, a Soldier trying to control a robot, a doctor trying to do surgery, or an astronaut in space, we're really trying to bridge the gap; trying to enable ability through this human-technology interaction."
Over the next hour, Lathan introduced the lecture audience to her own personal innovation model; giving participants an in depth look into the history of Anthrotronix and the answers found through use of the company's own internally-developed robot "Cosmobot."
"Cosmobot," originally designed for and marketed as an innovative rehabilitation and learning tool for children with disabilities, was the company's first foray into advanced interface technology; merging Lathan's research and development expertise with her passion for consumer products. And although "CosmoBot" is no longer on the market today- unable to keep up with such market newcomers as Apple iPads and Leapfrog Tablets - this robot undoubtedly set the bar high when it came to educational accessibility devices.
Over the years, the focus at Anthrotronix has shifted.
"We've grown as a R&D company over the years; keeping our focus on dual-use technologies. However, we still do quite a bit of work in rehabilitation and medical as well as work for dismount Warfighter and medical applications in the military," said Lathan. "Just within our own company right now we're doing a lot of work with sensors and wearable technology. We're really just taking the latest and greatest sensors that we can put in different form factors. We're doing some work with the Army on instrumenting gloves for command and communications both between troops as well as between a service member and a robot."
"Brain-computer interfaces are an area I'm particularly interested in right now," Lathan continued, "because I think we are almost at that 'sweet spot' where there is a huge market need and a people need. We know that 1 in 4 Americans suffer from conditions which decrease brain function; we know that those are incredible medical expenses; we have changes in our medical system which are moving us towards preventative and wellness; we have an awareness among consumers that wellness is very important; we have a whole range of technologies. But, we don't actually have good, accessible, 'sweet spot' innovative technology that will answer some of this neurological screening."
Currently, Lathan and the Anthrotronix team are working with CDMRP on the development of mobile medical applications, a new and "real game-changing application," according to Lathan.
Presently in industry talks, the new software currently being co-developed by both Lathan's team and the CDMRP team here at Fort Detrick - referred to as "DANA" (Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment) ' has a much bigger vision of what we can do through the use of brain-computer interfaces.
DANA, a cognitive and psychological system designed to help assess service members' injuries during battle, has been fashioned specifically for the Department of Defense, funded through a U.S. Army Rapid Innovation Fund Research contract awarded in 2013 totaling $2.99 million. Currently being tested on Soldiers in Afghanistan, the DANA Android operating system is a clinical decision support tool, allowing medical providers to conduct a series of cognitive and psychological tests on individuals suspected of brain injury or mental stress. Lathan has high hopes for the software, believing that one day doctors of all kinds will be able to better recognize symptoms related to brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in Soldiers.
At the conclusion of the lecture, Lathan was presented with the Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma Legacy Lecture Award; recognizing her outstanding presentation at the Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma Legacy Lecture "with appreciation for significant research efforts to explore ways in which humans, computers, and robotic control systems are brought together for the development of advanced technological solutions to improve the health of military service members and the general public."
"The kind of research you do and the contributions you're making really embodies what Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma stood for," said Dr. Gayle Vaday, program manager of the DoD Breast Cancer Research Program. "Children with disabilities were very close to her heart as well as our service members. We thank you for being a part of her legacy."