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Oncology Nursing Society Praises UMass Researchers’ Water-purifying System

Left to right: Sarah Perry, Julie Bliss Mullen, Bryan Chua

Sarah Perry, Julie Bliss Mullen, Bryan Chua

ONS Voice (website of the Oncology Nursing Society) offered high praise for the pioneering, portable, water-purification system developed by a multidisciplinary UMass research team. The team included: Associate Professor Sarah Perry of the Chemical Engineering Department; Human Testing Control Facilities Director Michael Busa in the Institute for Applied Life Sciences; Associate Professor Rachel Walker from the College of Nursing, an AAAS Invention Fellow; Julie Bliss Mullen, a doctoral alumna of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and a Forbes Magazine “30 Under 30” all-star in science; and Chemical Engineering alumnus Bryan Chua, who was celebrated as a “21st Century Leader” at his graduation ceremony for his wide-ranging involvement in sustainability issues.

The team’s water-purifying system would be a boon during disasters, such as the 2017 Hurricane Maria situation in Puerto Rico and elsewhere, when safe, clean, and easily accessible water is very difficult to find. The new portable system can filter water to medical-grade purity.

As ONS Voice explained, “telehealth” resources have been present in the United States for several decades. Traditionally, clinicians have used telehealth to help rural populations with limited access to care. However, telehealth innovations expand beyond home-care coordination and can now use technology to reach even the most remote and vulnerable patients.

As one prominent example, ONS Voice cited the UMass research group. “One of the inventions that the University of Massachusetts’ team developed addresses emergency nursing in remote areas. The engineers and scientists…built and tested components of a new portable, self-contained system that would filter water that was easier to access during disasters, like bottled or tap water, to medical-grade purity, then add it to sterile bags containing the proper salts, thereby creating new IV fluids right at the point of care.”

The UMass team that developed this water-purifying system represents a first-rate model for interdisciplinary cooperation and productivity in which the resulting research is invaluable for society’s most vital applications. (January 2021)