Scientists at GE Global Research recently held their annual “TECHfest” celebrations — essentially giant show-and-tells in which hundreds of the company’s top scientists give their R&D colleagues a sneak peek into their latest discoveries. In the video below, shot at GE’s research center in Niskayuna, N.Y., GE’s Adam Rasheed explains his work on the advanced propulsion technology known as a pulse detonation engine. Nearby, GE’s Herman Wiegman explains his work to develop batteries for the next generation of electric cars. And further down the tent, biomedical engineer Megan Rothney describes the imaging technology that’s being used to distinguish fat from lean body mass in order to shed light on diseases that affect overweight people such as coro­nary heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers. It’s part of a unique collaboration between GE and food giant Nestlé, described in detail after the video, that is already seeing real-world use.

As Megan explained, abdominal fat is known to increase the risk for various diseases, but it’s difficult to measure accurately. Waist-to-hip ratio offers only a rough rule of thumb. And, CT scans are accurate but not suitable for routine testing due to the associated costs and X-ray exposure levels. However, researchers found that GE’s scanners that measure bone density — which are used to diagnose osteoporosis — could be used to measure fat and muscle distribution. It led GE Healthcare engineers to develop a new generation of scanners that could scan for body composition as well as bone density.

Confident that the technology was accessible, cost effective and accurate, GE’s engineers still needed to more fully demonstrate its usefulness — which resulted in the Nestle project. Together, the companies embarked on a series of clinical research studies to better understand the relationship between body composition and metabolic health. On the one hand, GE provides the expertise in measurement. On the other, Nestlé provides the know-how for evaluating metabolic markers for health and disease. For GE, the outcome is refinement of its diagnostic tools, and for Nestlé it is creation of better nutritional products.

The Nestlé collaboration is described in detail on GE’s Citizenship website in the story just published today, “Anatomy of an Innovation: Making Progress toward Sustainable Health.

Access the video by clicking on the link below:

* See what tech blog Make thought of their visit to TECHfest
* Hear about TECHfest straight from GE’s scientists on their blog

Learn more about Global Research’s latest work in these GE Reports stories and videos:
* “$1,000 genome project advances to NIH round two