Rose Faghih’s Computational Medicine Laboratory has been the locus of a steady stream of research accomplishments since moving to NYU Tandon in 2022

Student Revanth at a conference

Graduate student Revanth Reddy, who works in the Computational Medicine Laboratory, presented at the 2023 IEEE EMBC Conference in Sydney

Conventional wisdom holds that moving a research lab to a new university involves a steep learning curve and requires plenty of time to get acclimated.  But when Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Rose Faghih — already the recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and an entrant on numerous lists of the most promising, young engineers in the world — arrived at NYU Tandon last year, she quickly set up her multidisciplinary Computational Medicine Lab, which is focused on designing control, optimization, estimation, and signal processing algorithms for biomedical and neural engineering applications, and got to work. Since then, a regular flow of news has emerged from the lab — from research findings and conference presentations to new grants and honors. 

As the new semester kicks off, we take a look back at what one dedicated, laser-focused researcher can accomplish in a short amount of time.


Among the major feathers in Faghih’s cap has been a five-year, $1,825,840 National Institutes of Health Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators, which provides support for a project she calls "MESH: Multimodal Estimators for Sensing Health," aimed at helping healthcare providers more easily monitor people’s hidden health states, in order to catch potentially serious underlying medical conditions early.

Back in 2020, Italian magazine Futuro Prossimo had included her on a list of young, female researchers likely to win the Nobel Prize in the future based on her work on estimation of one's hidden cognitive arousal states, and now, under MIRA, she is expanding her research directions to other health states by investigating inflammation, metabolism and fatigue. 

The MIRA laurel prompted congratulations from across the nation, but Faghih is just as gratified by the recognition she has gotten closer to home: at Tandon’s 2023 Research Excellence Exhibit, an annual event held at the MetroTech Center to allow the public to see the most exciting work being done at the school, her Computational Medicine Laboratory garnered a first-place prize. (And it’s not only those in her new academic home who are recognizing Faghih’s accomplishments: the University of Maryland, College Park, her alma mater, recently inducted her into its Early Career Distinguished Alumni Society.)  Additionally, a patent based on Faghih’s postdoctoral research on automated follicular monitoring was granted earlier this year. 

A responsibility to the next generation of engineers 

Ask Faghih what she did over the summer break, and the pointed answer does not involve relaxing. The activity she is most excited about: speaking at the International Summer School on Bio-X: Data Science and Engineering in Medicine and Biology, an initiative co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society (EMBS). There she gave multiple presentations to graduate and undergraduate students, exposing them to new mathematical and computational tools and encouraging them to network. The youngest faculty member at the summer school, she says, “I wish I had known about this summer school when I was a student, so it was really gratifying to impart some of what I’ve learned during my academic career thus far.” 

Another activity she found exceptionally meaningful was being featured as female leader panelist in the inaugural Women in Biomedical Engineering Forum, sponsored by the IEEE EMBS and held in Sydney, Australia, in July. Since she has been leading efforts to develop the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Program at NYU Tandon, best approaches in training the next generation have been much on her mind, and at the panel “Nurturing the Next Generation Workforce in Healthcare: Balancing Academics, Industry, and Life,” she provided insights on key objective factors for preparing aspiring biomedical engineers. She also recommended approaches that can be employed to foster the next-generation young professional leaders. 

To guide the career paths of current undergraduate students, she also presented her own path for the University of Maryland Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) students in 2022, and this year she was involved in the Cyber Physical Systems Rising Stars Workshop, held at the University of Virginia and aimed at identifying and mentoring outstanding minority Ph.D. students and postdocs working in that realm to obtain faculty positions.

Taking her research on the road

The 2023 IEEE EMBC Conference in Sydney proved to be a particularly busy and fruitful event for Faghih and the researchers in her lab. One postdoc, Vidya Raju, had two papers presented: 

  • “Characterizing alterations in cortisol secretion during cardiac surgery,” aimed at deepening clinicians’ understanding of the effect of cortisol — a neuroendocrine hormone secreted from the adrenal glands — in modulating inflammation
  • “Sparse deconvolution and causality analysis of inflammatory markers during cardiac surgery,” which investigated clinical data from ten patients undergoing coronary arterial bypass graft surgery to study the response of cytokines. 

Graduate student Revanth Reddy also shared a presentation entitled “A point process approach for tracking valence using a respiration belt.” He explained that emotional valence (the extent to which an emotion can be characterized as positive or negative) is difficult to infer since so many psychological factors and variabilities are involved. Changes in emotional valence have, however, been found to cause a physiological response in respiration signals, leading him, Faghih, and their co-authors to propose measuring valence by analyzing a subject’s respiration pattern. NYU has filed a provisional patent based on this work.

Another paper was presented based on a project in Faghih’s course, which allows students to work on a real-world biomedical engineering problem where they apply the tools learned in class: “Characterization of leptin secretion in premenopausal obese women treated with bromocriptine,” a study that involved 18 healthy women before and after a treatment with a dopamine agonist, meant to mimic the effects of dopamine (known casually as the “feel-good” hormone) on the brain. 

Faghih herself gave an invited talk on decoding and regulating cognitive arousal using the smartwatches of the future at a mini-symposium on "Dynamical Modeling for Neurotechnology Applications." (The talk centered on her NSF CAREER Award-winning project MINDWATCH or Multimodal Intelligent Noninvasive brain state Decoder for Wearable AdapTive Closed-loop arcHitectures, which presents a method of monitoring a wearer’s mental state and improving it.)

Aside from her time in Sydney, Faghih — who has been interviewed in such publications as the Washington Post, which cited her research on the future of wearable devices, she has been very actively engaged with the research community:

  • featured as an invited speaker and an expert panelist at the AI for healthcare Workshop, which was held at the 2022 NSF Cyber Physical Systems Principal Investigator meeting.
  • served as an expert panelist on a panel at the 2022 IEEE Healthcare Innovations - Point of Care Technologies (HI-PoCT) conference.
  • organized an invited session on Medical Cyber-Physical Systems at the 2022 Asilomar conference, where Ph.D. student Saman Khazaei gave a presentation entitled "Decoding a Neurofeedback-Modulated Performance State in Presence of a Time-Varying Process Noise Variance." (Khazaei will also be presenting an invited talk at the 2023 IEEE-EMBS International Conference on Biomedical and Health Informatics later this October. NYU has filed a provisional patent based on Khazaei’s research under Faghih’s supervision for estimating interoceptive awareness state using eye-tracking)
  • presented research at such events as the Psychoneuroendocrinology and Immunology Research Consortium Seminar at the University of Arkansas, MIT Neural Signal Processing Seminar, Tufts Biomedical Engineering Department Seminar, NYU Biomedical Engineering Colloquium, NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress Seminar, and University of Houston Biomedical Engineering Seminar, to name just a sampling.

Her publications have been covered by numerous international media outlets, including those aimed at a lay audience: for example, her algorithm to track mental states through the skin was featured by 19 media outlets, and everyday pleasures to improve performance gained media attention in 44 outlets.

Editorial input

This year, Faghih was invited to join the editorial board of the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) Nexus, a journal containing research from across the biological, medical, physical, social, and political sciences, as well as engineering and mathematics.

She has also signed on to serve as an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, a highly regarded journal focused on the intersection of biomedical engineering and neuroscience.

Looking ahead

Faghih’s National Academy activities has not just been limited to the National Academy of Sciences. Faghih will be among the 60 early-career engineers from the U.S. and Europe at the 2023 Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) Symposium, co-organized by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the European Council of Applied Sciences, Technologies, and Engineering and hosted by Nokia Bell Labs in mid-October. She will be attending the FOE symposium based on an invitation by NAE. In 2019, she participated in the NAE's US Frontiers of Engineering symposium Program

Additionally, her book, Bayesian Filter Design for Computational Medicine: A State-Space Estimation Framework, co-authored by her former Ph.D. student Dilranjan S. Wickramasuriya, is scheduled to be published by Springer by early 2024.  

Revanth Reddy

Ph.D. candidates are immersed in what is likely to be the most rigorous and challenging academic experiences of their lives, and studies have shown that developing a good relationship with an involved advisor is one of the major components of successfully earning a doctoral degree.

If that’s the case, Revanth Reddy is in an enviable position. A graduate student in Tandon’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, he works in the Computational Medicine Lab under Faghih’s tutelage, conducting research on emotional valence and its relevance to conditions like PTSD.  

He had first met Faghih during his undergraduate years at Stony Brook University, where he became fascinated by biomedical engineering and determined to pursue it seriously. “Many people in my family are computer scientists, but I find biomedical engineering more compelling because it’s so multidisciplinary,” he explains. “It’s the perfect mix of subjects I love, including biology, math, and engineering.”

Reddy, who arrived at Tandon in 2022, has always had wide-ranging interests: growing up in New York’s Rockland County, he excelled academically, while also playing volleyball and wielding the trumpet in the school band. Now, in the lab, he is also taking on a variety of roles, and he expects to complete his doctoral program in 2026 or ‘27. “I’m getting a very holistic view of the challenges and rewards of a career in academia thanks to Professor Faghih,” he says. “She ensures that my research is of a high caliber, that I’m comfortable communicating my work to peers and laypeople alike, and that I’m always mindful of the potential societal benefits it presents.”