Extensive clinical data gathering ability provides a strong basis for our research. In addition to approved IRB at UT-Dallas, we also have strong partnerships with UT Southwestern Medical Center as well as Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia. Our unique lactation data collection techniques involves a combination of thin pressure sensors, ultrasound imaging, and a sophisticated data acquisition and synchronization methodology that results in a uniquely precise data set involving various forces applied by the infant on the breast, the displacement of different parts of infant oral cavity and the breast tissue, and milk flow.
Extensive capabilities and experience in computational modeling and numerical analysis opens new doors, allowing us to understand and visualize variables and scenarios that are difficult or impractical to fully study via in vivo clinical measurements. Visualization techniques made possible with computational models allows the varying of time scales as well as multiple vantage points that can be invaluable in the understanding of complex phenomena involving lactation and the human breast.
We have developed a programmable mechanical model for both the infant suckling (including motions of the palate, tongue, and jaw, and sucking pressure), as well as a model of human breast with milk-mimicking liquid (in term of flow properties) that allows external observations of flow. This bio-inspired breastfeeding simulator (BIBS) is designed and constructed based on CT scanned images of the infants' oral cavities and the clinical measurements and observations in the pilot studies. The various infant oral behaviors, both for healthy and unhealthy infants, can be programmed into the device, studying in real-time the effect of the different infant characteristics on milk expression.
In biological systems such as cells, tissues, and organs, mass transport is tightly regulated; any dysregulation can result in diseases. An example is the mass transport of blood stream into the lactating human breast mammary glands for milk production. Mathematical modeling of the breast, and the geometry of alveoli and the ducts that produce milk, provides a vehicle for a deeper, more fundamental understanding of the underlying phenomena. It can open doors to a better understanding of the relationship of various physical and geometric parameters in the human breast and their correlation with milk production as well as the specific symptoms observed in various breastfeeding anomalies.