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“30 000 complications a year to avoid”

Intelligent Blood Pressure Control: Why Dustin Becker, a postdoctoral researcher at the ETH Institute of Energy and Process Engineering in Zurich, is interested in intensive care units.

Just over a year ago, the commuter newspaper “20 Minuten” ran a headline, “Swiss machine keeps liver alive for 7 days.” So what is this all about?

We are talking about the Liver4Life project at ETH Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich. The aim is to regenerate a human liver outside the body. I did my PhD on this project and was involved with blood pressure regulation in the liver. As time went on, I had the idea of translating this know-how into everyday clinical practice.

What is the underlying idea of Hemocontrol?

After an operation, the blood pressure of patients in intensive care units is often too low. To counter this, nursing staff give them a stress hormone that stabilizes their blood pressure. Currently, the infusion rate of this hormone is manually adjusted, which is labor-intensive and results in about 30,000 complications worldwide each year. We want to integrate and automate blood pressure measurement and the infusion of stress hormones in one device. This offers some relief to nursing staff and allows them to focus on other tasks.

Many of us first learned of the immense workload in intensive care units in the wake of the Corona pandemic. Was it the same for you?

The situation really shook me up. I wanted to do something practical to help the medical staff.

You are still working full-time as a postdoctoral researcher at ETH. What is next?

I’m working on a proof of concept. From conversations with nurses and doctors at the hospital in Muri (AG), I know that a device like Hemocontrol would be most welcome.

Dustin Becker attended the Innosuisse Business Concept Course in Spring 2021.