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James Friend - UC San Diego. San Diego, CA, US

James Friend James Friend

Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Surgery | UC San Diego


Designing, engineering and testing ventilator prototypes to address ventilator shortages.





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Professor James Friend, Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow | RMIT University




Professor Friend leads the Medically Advanced Devices Laboratory at the University of California San Diego. He is a professor in both the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering, and the Department of Surgery, at the School of Medicine. He has over 270 peer-reviewed research publications, including 140 journal papers and eight book chapters, and 27 patents in process or granted, completed 34 postgraduate students and supervised 20 postdoctoral staff, and been awarded over $25 million in competitive grant-based research funding over his career. He is a fellow of the IEEE.

Areas of Expertise (9)

Medical Devices and Instrumentation

Microfluidics and Microfabrication



Surface Acoustic Waves

Fabrication of nanoscale devices

Aerospace Engineering


Mechnical Engineering

Accomplishments (1)

MAE Best Teaching Award


Media Appearances (5)

With diving gear and plumbing supplies, California labs fashion COVID-19 masks and ventilators

STAT  online


“Lonnie called and asked, ‘Can we make ventilators? Can we do something to make a difference?’” said Friend. “I said, ‘My group is supposed to be good at making medical devices and what are we doing this for unless we’re doing it for a purpose like this?’”

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UC San Diego Engineers, Doctors Upgrading, Testing Ventilators To Fight COVID-19

KPBS  online


UC San Diego Engineer James Friend, who is also working in this lab, said there's some anecdotal evidence that ventilators have been split between patients in Italy and New York. "It’s unclear whether it’s been successful and just how much it's been tried. It's likely that it indicates more about the desperate nature of the situation, rather than whether it's a reasonably good approach to this sort of issue," he said.

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UCSD researchers develop ventilator that can be made quickly, cheaply

ABC 10 News San Diego  online


The project was overseen by Professor James Friend, who works in the School of Engineering and School of Medicine. The device is essentially an bag valve mask that has been outfitted with an automatic pumping arm, created with pieces made by 3D printers and waterjet cutters. “Whatever the simplest, quickest fastest way to produce the safest parts is,” said Friend. “we choose that.”

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UCSD Engineers, Doctors Team Up to Retrofit, Print Ventilators with 3-D Printing

India West  online


The University of California reports that the team, led by Dr. Lonnie Peterson and Prof. James Friend, including Indian Americans Aditya Vasan, a graduate student; and Drs. Hemal Patel and Preetham Suresh; as well as graduate students William Connacher, Jeremy Sieker and Reiley Weekes and others; kick-started the project several weeks ago when news started to trickle in that communities in Northern Italy with widespread COVID-19 were in dire straits.

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UC San Diego Engineers and Doctors Team Up to Retrofit and Build Ventilators

Jacobs School of Engineering  online


“One of the biggest things we heard was that there weren’t enough ventilators to treat all of the patients coming into the hospitals,” said James Friend, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Surgery at UC San Diego. “It’s clear that if we’re not careful, we might end up in the same situation.”

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Articles (5)

The Vibration Behavior of Sub‐Micrometer Gas Vesicles in Response to Acoustic Excitation Determined via Laser Doppler Vibrometry

Advanced Functional Materials

2020 The ability to monitor sub‐micrometer gas vesicles' (GVs) vibration behavior to nonlinear buckling and collapse using laser Doppler vibrometry is reported, providing a precise noncontact technique for monitoring the motion of sub‐micrometer objects.

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Medical Devices for Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Review and Directions for Development

Journal of Medical Devices

2020 The development of diagnostics and medical devices has historically been concentrated in high-income countries, despite a significant need to expand healthcare services to low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Poor quality healthcare extends beyond LMIC to underserved communities in developed countries.

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Pulsed Low-Frequency Magnetic Fields Induce Tumor Membrane Disruption and Altered Cell Viability

Biophysical Journal

2020 Tumor cells express a unique cell surface glycocalyx with upregulation of sulfated glycosaminoglycans and charged glycoproteins. Little is known about how electromagnetic fields interact with this layer, particularly with regard to harnessing unique properties for therapeutic benefit.

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Enabling Rapid Charging Lithium Metal Batteries via Surface Acoustic Wave‐Driven Electrolyte Flow

Advanced Materials

2020 Both powerful and unstable, practical lithium metal batteries have remained a difficult challenge for over 50 years. With severe ion depletion gradients in the electrolyte during charging, they rapidly develop porosity, dendrites, and dead Li that cause poor performance and, all too often, spectacular failure.

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Rapid and Accurate Pressure Sensing Device for Direct Measurement of Intraocular Pressure

Translational Vision Science & Technology

2020 Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the primary modifiable risk factor for glaucoma. Current devices measure IOP via the dynamic response of the healthy cornea and do not provide the accurate IOP measurements for patients with altered corneal biomechanics. We seek to develop and test an accurate needle-based IOP measurement device that is not cornea dependent.

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