WED AM News: New wearable ultrasound device could improve patient monitoring; Update on WARF Accelerator Program

— A researcher with the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health is seeking to improve patient monitoring during anesthesia with a new wearable ultrasound device. 

Guelay Bilen-Rosas was a featured speaker at this year’s WARF Innovation Day, held yesterday at Monona Terrace in Madison. She’s a physician with more than 20 years of experience under her belt, and oversees the pediatric transplant anesthesia program at UW Health. 

When patients are put under anesthesia for operations, they can’t breathe on their own so specialized machines must do it for them. Physicians and anesthesia teams keep track of their breathing with a number of monitors, but Bilen-Rosas says there’s a major problem with that process. 

“Currently, standard monitors that are available to us are not respiratory monitors — they measure heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen,” she said. “They’re indirect monitors; they do not measure breathing. They measure that effects that happen to the body after a respiratory event has occurred.” 

When one of those indicators is off, the system sounds an alarm. But Bilen-Rosas says that can come after the patient has been in a low-oxygen state for an unknown period of time. That can delay responses by the team providing care, and sometimes intervention can occur too late. 

“We’re risking at that time injury to the brain and to the heart, and even death,” she said. 

In the absence of truly direct monitoring, Bilen-Rosas says physicians like her have to fall back on their experience, sometimes making an “educated guess” about the breathing status of certain patients.

And since what she calls “clinical clues” are largely subjective, it’s impossible to teach that level of airway skills to any provider, no matter what their skill level is. 

“It’s quite frankly dangerous,” she said. “To fill this need, our group is working on a noninvasive wearable respiratory device that will monitor your breathing directly in real time.”

See more: 

— Over the past decade, the WARF Accelerator Program has made 35 revenue-generating agreements with companies that have gone through the program. 

According to Greg Keenan, program manager, the accelerator has funded more than 110 projects since 2010; at least 14 startup companies were formed based on technologies it’s backed. 

“And just as important, we’ve seen $6.50 coming into those technologies for every $1 that we’ve invested,” Keenan said yesterday at WARF Innovation Day in Madison. “From the standpoint of impact, it’s been a very, very good program.” 

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation is the licensing arm for UW-Madison, which produces more than 375 idea disclosures each year, Keegan said. WARF currently has 750 pending U.S. patent applications, and 2,000 active issued patents. Plus the organization manages a $2.8 billion endowment, generated by licensing revenues generated over decades. 

As one of WARF’s newer initiatives, the WARF Accelerator supports pre-license technologies with funding and business expertise, often developing prototypes or commercial demonstrations aimed at getting the idea licensed. 

The program focuses on five research areas: computer science and engineering, health care, clean technologies, research tools, and food and agriculture. 

“The idea is to validate market potential, demonstrate commercial value and de-risk the technology to attract industry partners and investors,” he said. 

Listen to a recent podcast with Keenan: 

— Gov. Tony Evers is ripping Senate Republicans for rejecting his nomination to lead DATCP, accusing them of voting against Wisconsin’s farmers in forcing Brad Pfaff out of his job.

Evers surprised the chamber by sitting just off the Senate floor during the debate on his nominee. It was the first time in at least three decades that the chamber has shot down a guv’s cabinet pick.

After the vote, Evers said he showed up for the proceedings because he wanted to hear for himself why Republicans were rejecting Pfaff. He said Pfaff had the audacity to challenge GOP lawmakers on funding for grants to help farmers dealing with mental health issues and was being punished by legislators.

Republicans have suggested Evers would elevate DATCP Deputy Secretary Randy Romanski to the top spot and put Pfaff in the No. 2 position. Evers, though, said he was too “PO’d” to say what he would do next.

Evers added GOP lawmakers were sending a message to his cabinet picks who haven’t yet received a confirmation vote that they should keep “their damn mouths shut,” which he called “bullshit.”

Ten months into his term, the Senate has only confirmed six of Evers’ cabinet members, less than half of his nominees.

While the Senate rejected Pfaff, it unanimously backed Mark Afable as Insurance commissioner and Rebecca Cameron Valcq to the Public Service Commission. 

See more at 

— Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee President Liz Gilbert, honorary Finance Chair Alex Lasry and Vice Chair U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan are touting the 2020 Democratic National convention in Milwaukee as an opportunity to showcase the state of Wisconsin on both the national and global stage.

Speaking at a luncheon in Madison, Lasry played up the financial benefits the convention will have on the state but also highlighted the importance of showing off the city to an international audience.

“The economic impact is great — $200 million, that’s a ton of money, but the exposure you get is something that you just couldn’t get anywhere else,” he said yesterday. “Milwaukee is not going to just be kind of the center of the U.S…. it’s going to really be the center of the world and everyone’s going to be hearing about it.”

Lasry, who is also a senior vice president with Milwaukee Bucks, called the gathering “the biggest event that we can get.”

“There’s only one event bigger than the Democratic National Convention, and that’s the Super Bowl and unless they start playing that in July, we’re never getting that,” he said.

Lasry praised the business community across the state for doubling the fundraising efforts of rival cities Miami and Houston, an effort he said showed “this is something that’s bigger than politics.”

“I think you saw companies come together and say, all right, whether I’m Democrat, Republican, independent, agnostic about politics, this is something that we need,” he said. 

See more from the luncheon in this week’s Friday Report. 

— AG Josh Kaul is touting the large collection of drugs in Wisconsin on Drug Take Back Day, calling it a reflection of “the commitment of people across the state to fighting substance abuse.”

With 280 collection events and over 450 drug disposal boxes across Wisconsin, the state received more than 30 tons of medications. Wisconsin ranked second highest Drug Take Back collection in the nation behind California.

“Thanks to the many Wisconsinites who are helping to prevent unused and unwanted medications from being diverted,” Kaul said in a release.

According to the release, trace amounts of drugs have recently shown up in Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes, presumably due to the flushing of unused or unwanted medicines. The DOJ called on Wisconsinites to only dispose of drugs at approved locations.

The drugs collected in Wisconsin on Drug Take Back Day were safely shipped to a facility in Indianapolis and incinerated.

See the release:

— The DeRosa Corporation is planning to close the Chancery Pub and Restaurant in Pleasant Prairie by year’s end, according to a notice sent to the state Department of Workforce Development. 

The notice shows at least 77 employees are expected to be laid off. The Southeastern Wisconsin Workforce Development Board will provide rapid response services to affected workers. 

See the notice: 


# Milwaukee Film Festival draws record attendance

# Milwaukee to gain jobs from across Molson Coors; local brewery to make Blue Moon brand, CEO says: Q&A

# Wisconsin Senate Votes To Fire Evers’ Cabinet Secretary Brad Pfaff

# Gov. Tony Evers angered by Republican senators’ vote to oust agriculture secretary



– Wisconsin farm groups react to Pfaff’s firing


– Eminent-domain case questions reconstruction of Dane County road


– Wisconsin exports continue decline in September


– Lakeland University to launch free tuition program


– Michigan affirms offer to share Asian carp project costs

– Farmers face snow, cooler temps while wrapping up harvest


– Wipfli adds Chicago-area firm Klein Hall


– The Chancery in Pleasant Prairie to close


– Advocate Aurora to invest $50 million to address health disparities

– Froedtert Hospital one of few in nation to screen trauma patients for PTSD


– Law firm buys Eschweiler-designed building near downtown

– Milwaukee church drops suit over damage to historical structure


– Harley-Davidson unveils two new middleweight motorcycles

– Harley-Davidson rolls out the Pan America and new ‘streetfighter,’ which now has a name


– Wisconsin Public Television is now PBS Wisconsin


– Senate Republicans vote to fire Ag Secretary Brad Pfaff

– Senate ag committee chair Marklein explains ‘no’ vote


– Baptista’s warehouse in Franklin sells for $17.75 million


– Some Milwaukee aldermen open to revisiting Strauss Brands’ proposal for Century City


– Kwik Trip plans to build second store in Muskego

– Kroger’s Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market stores implement cash back fee


– 100-room hotel planned for Yorkville site near I-94


– Dane County Regional Airport adds 5 nonstop destinations


– Sen. Jon Erpenbach: Everyone in Wisconsin deserves clean drinking water


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Badgerland Disposal: Signs two exclusive Southern Wisconsin municipal waste, recycling contracts 

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Curate: Expands database to cover all 50 states