CHIME: How Yale's Engineers and Doctors are Innovating to Combat COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has put a significant strain on the U.S. healthcare system and the availability of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. The Coalition for Health Innovation in Medical Emergencies (CHIME) - which draws on expertise from across the university - rapidly came together to help provide healthcare professionals the tools they need.

“We've seen as our faculty turned on a dime to take projects they were working on that were non-COVID-19-critical and repurposed them - repurposed their labs, and repurposed the work they were doing - to address what could have a tremendous and important impact on the outcome of the pandemic,” said Jeffrey Brock, Dean of Engineering & Applied Science and Dean of Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

CHIME, organized by the staff at the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design (CEID), brings together engineers, physicians, nurses and many others, to identify the most crucial PPE shortages facing healthcare workers - and then, ways to increase those supplies. This includes expanding access to ventilators, respirators, and nasopharyngeal swabs. 

Quick progress has been made on a number of projects, including a device that measures the reliability of non-certified respirators, and efforts to allow ventilators to treat more than one patient at a time. 

“In my career, I've never seen this kind of collaboration for the betterment of the entire society, globally,” said Lisa Lattanza, chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at the Yale School of Medicine.

In addition to the CHIME team and its diverse set of expertise, the coalition is also making use Yale’s many fabrication resources, such as those at the Wright Laboratory, the School of Architecture, the Neurotechnology Core at Yale’s medical campus, and the CEID. Together, these organizations have dozens of 3D printers, laser cutters, and other sophisticated fabrication equipment. Collaborations with several industry partners are also underway. 

“It’s a time when we’re all feeling unique pressures, but we’re also feeling a unique sense of hope,” said Vincent Wilczynski, SEAS Deputy Dean and the James S. Tyler Director of the CEID.