Young Chilean academic Daniel Hurtado is developing a cutting-edge medical device that could ensure the safety of people recovering from major surgery, and help athletes better prepare for major sporting events.
In 2018, his pioneering work on the heart and respiratory system made him the first Chilean to be offered a place on the World Council of Biomechanics. Hurtado was also selected as one of the 50 best scientists in the world under 40 by the World Economic Forum, which later elevated him to a list of just 10 people that it thought would have the strongest impact on the future of humanity.
Hurtado originally trained and practised as a civil engineer, ensuring bridges and buildings were built safely.
He’s now Associate Professor at the Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC), a department he co-founded.
He first created a mathematical model of a virtual heart, helping doctors better understand the organ and cardiovascular disease — the largest cause of death worldwide.
He then heard concerns from hospital staff about children who have trouble breathing following a tracheostomy — a procedure that involves creating an opening in the neck to place a tube into a person’s windpipe.
After a multi-year R&D process, Hurtado created his game-changing device, DALI. This is a sensor stuck onto the skin between the upper lip and the nose in order to measure someone’s respiratory airflow, 24/7, in a non-invasive way.
The sensor measures airflow through the nose, which Hurtado is convinced means medical staff can know “within seconds, or at least within a minute,” that a patient has either stopped breathing or is breathing at a slow rate that is concerning.
The idea is to also use the technology to “detect the anaerobic threshold” to “optimise the training of athletes” in long-term activities such as marathons.Tags: Chile, DALI, University