Two UIS projects aimed at confronting Covid – 19, winners in the ‘Mincienciatón’

Two initiatives led by researchers from the Industrial University of Santander (UIS) were winners in the ‘Mincienciatón’ call, led by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, whose purpose was to mobilize academia and research centers in record time, to find urgent solutions to COVID-19

In total, 25 proposals from all over the country will be financed through this call, which managed to gather 531 proposals from 26 departments in the country.

Proposal 1: DeepSARS system

The first initiative of the UIS, led by Professor Fabio Martínez Carrillo from the School of Systems Engineering and Informatics of the UIS, aims to develop a system called DeepSARS, which allows the interpretation of X-ray images and CT’s ( simple thoracic tomography) using artificial intelligence techniques.

The development of this project seeks to support physicians, anywhere in the country and at different levels of hospital care, in the early diagnosis and management of patients with COVID-19.

As reported by Professor Martínez Carrillo, “the analysis of X-ray images and tomographies can be essential for the proper characterization and identification of COVID-19 and its main clinical warning symptom: SAR (Acute Respiratory Syndrome)”.

In the long term, the system may be extended to various hospitals for the treatment of diseases with conditions such as pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary nodules, among others. In addition, models based on artificial intelligence can be adjusted for predictions with greater accuracy and also extended for the characterization of new pathologies.

The project will have the support of the co-investigators Lola Bautista Rozo, Jorge Villamizar and David Romo, and the support of the UIS research group BIVL2ab, as well as specialized personnel from the Santander Ophthalmology Foundation – FOSCAL, Specialized Radiologists from Bucaramanga and the collaboration of the radiology program of the Autonomous University of Bucaramanga (UNAB).

“This proposal first proposes to use computed tomography sequences for the modeling of digital biomarkers that allow the early detection of COVID-19 and support the results of clinical examinations of the patient”, commented the researcher UIS.

Likewise, he specified that “as a second contribution, the proposal is expected to allow the monitoring and identification of the stages with acute respiratory syndrome. It has a web platform that will allow a diagnostic approach to pneumonia to support physicians at different levels of hospital care ”.

The initiatives of the Industrial University of Santander (UIS) that were winners in the ‘Mincienciatón’ call are led by professors Fabio Martínez Carrillo from the School of Systems Engineering and Informatics and Francisco José Martínez Pérez, from the School of Biology together with co-investigators from the University.

Proposal 2: diagnosis of COVID-19 and Influenza A H1N1 by RT – PCR

The second UIS proposal endorsed by the MinCienciatón is led by professor Francisco José Martínez Pérez, from the School of Biology, with the participation of professors Lina María Vera Cala, from the School of Medicine and Carlos Jaime Barrios Hernández, from the School of Systems and Computer Engineering.

The project is a contribution to the diagnosis of COVID-19 and the Influenza A H1N1 virus by RT PCR in real time and consists of analyzing the genetic information of the virus with which its presence is normally identified in a patient, to generate by molecular methods and supported by supercomputing a more accurate and valid diagnosis that allows health authorities to carry out the corresponding actions for the adequate clinical care of patients and, at the population level, help in the implementation of containment measures and establishment of the epidemiological fence.

“In the test that is traditionally done, one of the virus genes is used, but we are going to include three more genes, in order to be able to more accurately observe this virus and its possible variants and thus identify the new viruses that have infected or may infect Colombians ”, argued the researchers in the presented project.

The objective of the project is to generate a more accurate and effective diagnosis to identify COVID-19 and the Influenza A H1N1 virus in people who may be infected, as well as to know the characteristics of the viral genomes.

It has been determined that the main difficulty during the containment process of the COVID-19 pandemic is in the ability to diagnose cases as accurately and quickly as possible. For this reason, the UIS researchers were motivated to develop these initiatives in which cutting-edge research and technology are put to the test to attack this health problem and make tools available to the country that in the future will also serve for diagnosis and treatment of other diseases that affect the health of Colombians.

Research for social transformation

When asked about the matter, the UIS rector, Professor Hernán Porras Díaz, was pleased with the selection and approval of the projects led by researchers from the Industrial University of Santander.

“This is a faithful demonstration of the quality of teaching and the advanced level of research in our institution. I sincerely congratulate professors Fabio Martínez Carrillo and Francisco José Martínez, as well as the co-investigators, because they, with their knowledge and the seriousness in their work reflects the public university’s commitment to the call that the country makes in times of crisis and that the best thing is that we do it with science, technology and innovation “.

Once the 25 winning projects throughout the country have been selected, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation will allocate 26 billion in the next few days for the execution and the prompt obtaining of results.

In total, there were 5 winning proposals for each of the thematic lines: public health, diagnostic systems, prevention and treatment strategies, equipment and devices and monitoring systems.

According to the Ministry of Science, this great initiative managed to mobilize Colombia, demonstrating that science is present and active to contribute with urgent health solutions in the national territory. Among the selected projects, the linking of 75 research groups and the participation of 277 researchers and co-researchers, as well as 10 young researchers, stand out.

Figures to be highlighted

MinCienciatón managed to gather 531 proposals from 26 departments of the country.

The UIS submitted 19 research proposals to the call.

130 experts came together to evaluate the proposals from the different thematic lines.

From the evaluation process, which had two phases, an eligible bank of 54 proposals was formed, of which the best 5 of each thematic line were selected by score: public health, diagnostic systems, prevention and treatment strategies, equipment and monitoring devices and systems.

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