Title: The Audible Human Project

Duration: 8/1/10 – 7/31/14

Amount: $1,310,440

PI: Royston. Rush University Medical Center Co-I’s: Hansen Mansy, PhD, Richard Sandler, MD, Robert Balk, MD.

Summary of project: The Visible Human Project (VHP) of the National Library of Medicine has catalyzed the development of advanced visualization software that has aided in anatomy education and has been an invaluable resource to biomedical researchers. It has aided in the development of numerous technologies, with applications spanning from improving imaging technology to simulating surgical procedures.

Our long-term goal is to develop a comparable “Audible Human Project” (AHP). This would accurately simulate the production, transmission and noninvasive measurement of naturally-occurring sounds associated with cardiovascular, pulmonary and gastro-intestinal function. It would also model externally introduced sounds, for example via percussion at the skin surface.

Constructed from a baseline of acoustic characteristics recorded for specific human subjects with specific pathologies and sensors, the Audible Human model extrapolates the acoustic characteristics for virtual patients with different pathologies and anatomical dimensions. It also simulates access to the pathologies of virtual patients using different acoustic sensors from the original recording sensor.

The AHP has the potential to impact both medical education and research. It could catalyze the development of new inexpensive, portable auscultative methods, as well as more advanced multimode acoustic imaging modalities. From an educational perspective, recent studies have emphasized the continued importance of skilled auscultation in medicine and the fact that this skill is in decline among younger physicians. The AHP could help provide a more effective educational experience. A student would not just listen to audio recordings, but would be able to interactively vary anatomy and pathology, as well as sensor position, type and contact pressure, so as to hear, “see” and “feel” (in a haptic environment) the results and associate them with quantifiable metrics.

The goal of this 4-year R01 application (which builds upon a R03 pilot grant) is to develop and experimentally validate comprehensive male and female upper torso acoustic models capable of representing healthy and specific pathological conditions in the lungs.


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