Postdoc Dieter Bender Receives Early Career Investigator Award from American Heart Association

Dieter Bender in a black-and-white shirt and black blazer
Dieter Bender ’12 MSEE, ’21 PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Villanova Center for Analytics of Dynamic Systems.

Dieter Bender ’12 MSEE, ’21 PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Villanova University’s College of Engineering, is a 2023 recipient of the American Heart Association’s Resuscitation Science Symposium Early Career Investigator Award.

Presented Nov. 10 in Philadelphia during the organization’s international symposium, the award recognizes the conference’s top-scoring abstracts related to cardiac and trauma resuscitation science. Dr. Bender’s paper, “Photoplethysmogram Signal Characteristics as a Non-Invasive Surrogate of Diastolic Blood Pressure During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation,” investigates data from the pulse oximeter, commonly used in hospitals, to determine whether the device could indicate the effectiveness of CPR, specifically in children.

“Using cardiac arrest data from 12 children, we developed a machine-learning model that decoded 268 five-second CPR epochs of these PPG signals,” Dr. Bender says. “Astonishingly, our model detected CPR quality with a 91% accuracy. The developed interactive machine-learning algorithm determined a specific point in the waveform, the ‘dicrotic notch,’ especially telling. This suggests that the unassuming pulse oximeter might become pivotal in monitoring patients’ physiological response during active CPR and adjust lifesaving CPR accordingly.”

Working alongside director C. Nataraj, PhD, the Moritz Endowed Professor of Engineered Systems, Dr. Bender is a researcher in the Villanova Center for Analytics of Dynamic Systems, focusing on explainable artificial intelligence and interactive machine learning for pediatric critical care medicine. He calls the award not only an affirmation of his work, but also a motivation to continue building bridges between engineering and medicine.

“Coming from an engineering background and diving into a realm largely led by health care and medical professionals, this recognition is particularly poignant for me,” Dr. Bender says. “It’s more than just a recognition of personal achievement; it’s a reflection of the dynamic shift in medical research today, where traditional silos are blurring. Being acknowledged by an authoritative body like the American Heart Association reinforces the significant role that diverse expertise, like engineering, plays in progressing the field of resuscitation science.”


Elizabeth Slocum
Director, Communication and Marketing