[PAST EVENT] Mary A. Mohr, Physics - Oral Exam for the Ph.D.

July 31, 2015
1:30pm - 4:30pm
Small Hall, Room 122
300 Ukrop Way
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Electronic signals from bedside monitors are routinely collected and stored in University of Virginia's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The overall goal of our research is predictive monitoring: we seek patterns in signals that give early warning of impending pathology. This work focuses on apnea (pauses in regular respiration), and on periodic breathing (regular cycles of breathing and apnea).

Our examination of apnea events revealed a disturbing number where the cessation of breathing lasted at least 60 seconds. These observations were validated, clinical correlations of these events were identified, and a theory was developed that partially explains how they occur.

Periodic breathing in neonates is a normal developmental phenomenon that has long been thought to be benign. However, exaggerated durations of periodic breathing may be an indicator of pathology. Characterization of periodic breathing has previously been limited to short monitoring times in small numbers of infants. An automated system for measurement and characterization of periodic breathing was developed and applied to 5 years of data from the NICU. A mathematical model was used to study periodic breathing detected in all infants. Also, times of exaggerated periodic breathing were recorded and clinical correlations were sought. A significant increase in periodic breathing in the 36 hours before diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis was found.

Mary Mohr is a native of Grand Island, New York. She graduated from University at Buffalo in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Physics. She then entered the College of William & Mary where she began work with Dr. John Delos, along with clinicians and quantitative scientists from the University of Virginia, studying apnea and periodic breathing in preterm infants. The goal of this research is to find new ways to use predictive monitoring to improve patient outcomes in the University of Virginia's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In September, 2015, Mary will begin teaching physics at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York.