Disease detective plans GPS-enabled asthma inhaler

Thanks to David Van Sickle, we'll soon be able to track (and hopefully eliminate) recurring asthma attack outbreaks.

Analog inhalers make way for GPS Flickr

Thanks to David Van Sickle, we'll soon be able to track (and hopefully eliminate) recurring asthma attack outbreaks. Van Sickle, a scholar in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is working with students in the biomedical engineering program to create an asthma inhaler with a built-in GPS receiver.

The project is still in its early stages, but David's goal is to eventually map out danger zones that could be life-threatening to those stricken with the lung disease. He already has it all mapped out: "rescue inhalers" will pinpoint the location of each asthmatic attack and cross-reference it with other devices, attempting to detect new locations and trends that previously flew under the radar undetected by asthma researchers. Van Sickle envisions a time when his technology can help researchers discover exactly why people suffer from asthma.

"It will allow us to better target public-health interventions to the places and times when people are really suffering," Van Sickle said.

Asthmatics interested in participating in the trials should be at least 18 years old, and can call 608-261-1036 or e-mail asthmap@mailplus.wisc.edu for more information.

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