Aerospace engineering assistant professor receives NIH Trailblazer award

Published: Mar 6, 2020 11:02 AM

By Cassie Montgomery

Vrishank Raghav, assistant professor in Auburn University’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, was recently awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Trailblazer R21 award for a project designed to help doctors identify and treat patients who have a particular lung disease known as Expiratory Central Airway Collapse (ECAC). The award recognizes early stage or early career investigators pursuing research programs that explore the intersection of the life sciences with engineering and the physical sciences.

The interdisciplinary project is a multi-principal investigator collaboration between Raghav and Surya Bhatt, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The project titled “Deep Learning and Fluid Dynamics-Based Phenotyping of Expiratory Central Airway Collapse”, is a three-year, nearly $600,000 grant funded by the NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

In patients with ECAC, the large airways in the lung collapse by more than 50% of the original area during exhalation. Present in 5% of chronic smokers, ECAC is associated with substantial respiratory morbidity disproportionate to underlying lung disease. Raghav and Bhatt plan to use benchtop flow simulators and machine learning combined with medical imaging data to determine the effect of central airway collapse on overall airway resistance and its contribution to airflow obstruction relative to small airway resistance.

“Our research group focuses on the application of fluid dynamics across multiple disciplines, including aerospace and biomedical engineering,” Raghav said. “In this case, we are interested in understanding the airflow limitation through the human trachea to help doctors better diagnose and prescribe accurate therapies to patients who suffer from ECAC.”

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery,, 334.844.3668
Assistant professor Vrishank Raghav, Auburn University Department of Aerospace Engineering

Assistant professor Vrishank Raghav, Auburn University Department of Aerospace Engineering

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