Engineering Diversity

IN THE NEWS

AI Predicts Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Seven Years in Advance
Marina Sirota | February 25, 2024

AI Predicts Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Seven Years in Advance
Marina Sirota | February 25, 2024

AI enables precision medicine with early detection of Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) recently developed an AI algorithm that can identify patients at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease up to seven years in advance, according to a study published last week in Nature Aging.

The researchers reported that their AI models predicted Alzheimer’s disease up to seven years in advance with 72% accuracy.

The predictive capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning are enabling disease prediction and accelerating precision medicine in an effort to improve patient outcomes. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), an incurable neurodegenerative disease, is the most common form of dementia.

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DNA Melting Curves Could Speed Blood-Borne Pathogen Detection
Stephanie Fraley | February 21, 2024

DNA Melting Curves Could Speed Blood-Borne Pathogen Detection
Stephanie Fraley | February 21, 2024

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and elsewhere have described a method of detecting blood-borne pathogens faster and more accurately than traditional blood cultures. The method, called digital DNA melting analysis, produces results in under six hours, much shorter than traditional cultures which can require 15 hours to several days depending on the pathogen.

Details of the method and results from a clinical pilot using blood samples from pediatric patients are provided in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics in a paper titled, “Universal digital high resolution melt analysis for the diagnosis of bacteremia.” Results from the pilot study showed that their DNA melting approach matched results of blood cultures collected for sepsis testing. They were also able to quantify how much of the pathogen was present in the samples using DNA melting.

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Christine Schmidt elected to National Academy of Engineering
Christine Schmidt | February 8, 2024

Christine Schmidt elected to National Academy of Engineering
Christine Schmidt | February 8, 2024

The National Academy of Engineering has elected UF Distinguished Professor Christine Schmidt, Ph.D., to the academy for 2024 in recognition of her more than 25 years of work to help advance the fields of neural tissue engineering and wound healing and for her leadership in diversifying bioengineering.

Election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions bestowed upon an engineer, honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research and private industry. Schmidt, the Pruitt Family Chair in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, is focused on creating novel materials and therapeutic systems aimed at wound healing and rebuilding peripheral and spinal nerves damaged by injuries.

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Desai named to National Academy of Engineering
Tejal Desai | February 7, 2024

Desai named to National Academy of Engineering
Tejal Desai | February 7, 2024

Brown Engineering Dean receives one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer.

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected Brown University Sorensen Family Dean of Engineering Tejal A. Desai to its newest membership class, honoring her distinguished contributions to engineering, “for nanofabricated materials to control biologics delivery, and leadership in the fields of nanotechnology and regenerative medicine.” Membership in the NAE is considered one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer and Desai’s selection brings to six the number of current Brown faculty members in the NAE.

“I am deeply honored by this recognition, and am grateful for all my colleagues and trainees who have supported me over my career,” said Desai.

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National Academy of Engineering Elects Gargi Maheshwari, Ph.D.
Gargi Maheshwari | February 6, 2024

National Academy of Engineering Elects Gargi Maheshwari, Ph.D.
Gargi Maheshwari | February 6, 2024

National Academy of Engineering Elects 114 Members and 21 International Members

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 114 new members and 21 international members, announced NAE President John L. Anderson today. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,310 and the number of international members to 332.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.” Election of new NAE members is the culmination of a yearlong process. The ballot is set in December and the final vote for membership occurs during January.

Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during the NAE’s annual meeting on Sept. 29, 2024. A list of the new members and international members follows, with their primary affiliations at the time of election and a brief statement of their principal engineering accomplishments.

Maheshwari, Gargi, vice president, Biologics Development, Bristol Myers Squibb, Blue Bell, Pa. For industrial bioprocessing, leading to licensure of biologics and vaccines for human health.

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Nancy Allbritton elected to National Academy of Engineering
Nancy Allbritton | February 6, 2024

Nancy Allbritton elected to National Academy of Engineering
Nancy Allbritton | February 6, 2024

Nancy Allbritton, the dean of the University of Washington College of Engineering and a UW professor of bioengineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the academy announced Feb. 6.

Allbritton was selected “for innovation and commercialization of single-cell, analytical, and gut-on-chip technologies for drug screening and for engineering education.”

Drawing from the fields of engineering, chemistry, physics and materials science, Allbritton’s research develops technologies and platforms for biomedical research and clinical care, including the study and analysis of single cells for the treatment of a variety of diseases such as cancer, macular degeneration and HIV.

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Metastatic breast cancer treatments have aided decline in deaths, Stanford Medicine-led study finds
Sylvia Plevritis | January 17, 2024

Metastatic breast cancer treatments have aided decline in deaths, Stanford Medicine-led study finds
Sylvia Plevritis | January 17, 2024

Deaths from breast cancer dropped 58% between 1975 and 2019 due to a combination of screening mammography and improvements in treatment, according to a new multicenter study led by Stanford Medicine clinicians and biomedical data scientists.

Nearly one-third of the decrease (29%) is due to advances in treating metastatic breast cancer —a form that has spread to other areas of in the body and is known as stage 4 breast cancer or recurrent cancer. Although these advanced cancers are not considered curable, women with metastatic disease are living longer than ever.

The analysis helps cancer researchers assess where to focus future efforts and resources.

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Injectable hydrogel electrodes open door to a novel painless treatment regimen for arrhythmia
Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez | January 9, 2024

Injectable hydrogel electrodes open door to a novel painless treatment regimen for arrhythmia
Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez | January 9, 2024

A breakthrough study led by Dr. Mehdi Razavi at The Texas Heart Institute (THI), in collaboration with a biomedical engineering team of The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) Cockrell School of Engineering led by Dr. Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez, sets the foundation of a ground-breaking treatment regimen for treating ventricular arrhythmia. Their study published in Nature Communications demonstrates the design and feasibility of a new hydrogel-based pacing modality.

The urgent need for an effective therapeutic regimen for ventricular arrhythmia inspired THI’s Electrophysiology Clinical Research & Innovations (EPCRI) team, led by its director, Dr. Razavi, to partner with Dr. Cosgriff-Hernandez and her UT Austin Biomedical Engineering (UT Austin BME) team to co-develop an innovative strategy that addresses the pathophysiology of re-entrant arrhythmia.

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Inhalable sensors could enable early lung cancer detection
Sangeeta Bhatia | January 5, 2024

Inhalable sensors could enable early lung cancer detection
Sangeeta Bhatia | January 5, 2024

The diagnostic, which requires only a simple urine test to read the results, could make lung cancer screening more accessible worldwide.

Using a new technology developed at MIT, diagnosing lung cancer could become as easy as inhaling nanoparticle sensors and then taking a urine test that reveals whether a tumor is present.

The new diagnostic is based on nanosensors that can be delivered by an inhaler or a nebulizer. If the sensors encounter cancer-linked proteins in the lungs, they produce a signal that accumulates in the urine, where it can be detected with a simple paper test strip.

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Next-Generation Wearable Technologies
Jill Higginson | December 19, 2023

Next-Generation Wearable Technologies
Jill Higginson | December 19, 2023

UD engineers are researching and refining innovative nanomaterial-based sensors for human health applications

From keeping us warm and dry during a downpour to showcasing our Blue Hen spirit at Homecoming, clothing is essential for our comfort, protection and self-expression. But what if our clothing could do even more — what if, for example, our clothes could collect real-time data and provide feedback that could aid our recovery after an accident or surgery, or monitor our form or body posture during exercise and sports to prevent injury?

At the University of Delaware, a team of researchers from the College of Engineering has developed nanomaterial sensors that can measure precise changes in human movement while being both comfortable and cost effective. Now, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program, the team will continue studying these innovative materials while collaborating with industry partners to explore new commercial opportunities in health-related applications.

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Kuhn Develops Patent-Pending Process to Create Comfortable Prosthetics for Breast Cancer Survivors
Liisa Kuhn | December 14, 2023

Kuhn Develops Patent-Pending Process to Create Comfortable Prosthetics for Breast Cancer Survivors
Liisa Kuhn | December 14, 2023

University of Connecticut Professor of Biomedical Engineering Liisa Kuhn credits Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper for inspiring her work on designing bone grafts, growth plate repair gel—and most recently—breast prosthetics.

“The Gobstopper candy has all these layers, and each layer lets them experience a different course of a meal,” says Kuhn, who has a dual appointment with the School of Dental Medicine and the College of Engineering. “Similarly, in my own research, I’m working with multilayered structures that provide timed release of multiple factors to improve bone and cartilage healing.”

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Guillermo A. Ameer Elected a Biomaterials Science and Engineering Fellow
Guillermo Ameer | December 7, 2023

Guillermo A. Ameer Elected a Biomaterials Science and Engineering Fellow
Guillermo Ameer | December 7, 2023

With his election, Ameer joins a group of fewer than 500 biomaterials scientists worldwide

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer has been elected a Fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE) by the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (IUSBSE), the highest honor the global biomaterials community can bestow on outstanding scientists. With his election, Ameer joins a group of fewer than 500 biomaterials scientists worldwide who have been named a FBSE.

Ameer will be formally inducted May 27 at the World Biomaterials Congress in Daegu, South Korea. Fellowships recognize those who have gained a status of excellent professional standing and high achievements in the field of biomaterials science and engineering.

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MIT’s Tiny Technologies Go to Washington
Ana Jaklenec | December 4, 2023

MIT’s Tiny Technologies Go to Washington
Ana Jaklenec | December 4, 2023

Cancer nanomedicine showcased at the White House Demo Day

On November 7, a team from the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine showed a Washington D.C. audience several examples of how nanotechnologies developed at MIT can transform the detection and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The team was one of 40 innovative groups featured at “American Possibilities: A White House Demo Day.” Technology on view spanning energy, artificial intelligence, climate, and health, highlighting advancements that contribute to building a better future for all Americans.

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Low-dose CT screening can catch lung cancer early – but most people overlook it
Denise Aberle | November 8, 2023

Low-dose CT screening can catch lung cancer early – but most people overlook it
Denise Aberle | November 8, 2023

CT was shown to be the first and most effective way of reducing lung cancer mortality,’ says UCLA Health’s Dr. Denise Aberle.

Most people at greatest risk of lung cancer are overlooking a non-invasive screening that can detect cases early, when treatment can best save lives.

November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month and UCLA Health lung cancer experts are working to spread the word about the importance of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) of the chest. The annual scan is recommended for people with a long-term history of smoking, as well as other criteria, including age.

The screening is designed to find asymptomatic cancers when they are most treatable with surgery or radiation. It also allows doctors to monitor any suspicious findings over time.

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Anesthesia technology precisely controls unconsciousness in animal tests
Emery Brown | November 7, 2023

Anesthesia technology precisely controls unconsciousness in animal tests
Emery Brown | November 7, 2023

An advanced closed-loop anesthesia delivery system that monitors brain state to tailor propofol dose and achieve exactly the desired level of unconsciousness could reduce post-op side effects.

If anesthesiologists had a rigorous means to manage dosing, they could deliver less medicine, maintaining exactly the right depth of unconsciousness while reducing postoperative cognitive side effects in vulnerable groups like the elderly. But with myriad responsibilities for keeping anesthetized patients alive and stable as well as maintaining their profoundly unconscious state, anesthesiologists don’t have the time without the technology.

To solve the problem, researchers at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have invented a closed-loop system based on brain state monitoring that accurately controls unconsciousness by automating doses of the anesthetic drug propofol every 20 seconds.

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Advancing ultrasound microvessel imaging and AI to improve cancer detection
Azra Alizad | October 21, 2023

Advancing ultrasound microvessel imaging and AI to improve cancer detection
Azra Alizad | October 21, 2023

Ultrasound—a technology that uses sound waves to produce an image—is commonly used to monitor the development of a baby as it grows inside its mother. But ultrasound imaging also can be used to investigate suspicious masses of tissue and nodules that may be cancerous.

Tumors consist not only of cancer cells but also a matrix of small blood vessels, or microvessels, that cannot be seen in the images produced by conventional ultrasound machines. To solve this problem, physician-scientist Azra Alizad, M.D., and biomedical engineering scientist Mostafa Fatemi, Ph.D., teamed up at Mayo Clinic to design and study a tool that may improve the resolution of ultrasound imaging.

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Immunotherapy Response in Glioblastoma Induced by mRNA Delivered by Extracellular Vesicles
Betty Kim | October 20, 2023

Immunotherapy Response in Glioblastoma Induced by mRNA Delivered by Extracellular Vesicles
Betty Kim | October 20, 2023

Investigators at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has developed a potentially groundbreaking method for enhancing immunotherapy responses in glioblastoma by using extracellular vesicles loaded with messenger RNA (mRNA). This new approach, detailed in Nature Communications, has solved some of the hurdles faced by mRNA-based therapy approaches for cancer and could lead to wider use of these therapies across a range of hard-to-treat tumor types.

The new approach for mRNA delivery builds on research from a team at MD Anderson led by Betty Kim, MD, PhD, and Wen Jiang, MD, PhD, who developed a novel method earlier this year of loading mRNA into extracellular vesicles and demonstrates the anti-tumor potential of this method of therapeutic delivery. Researchers have known for some time the therapeutic potential of mRNA to fight both infectious diseases and cancer. But methods to deliver it accurately to where it is needed has been a challenge, with various other potential delivery method studied previously including via lipid polymeric nanoparticles.

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Curbing Lung Cancer Metastasis with Nanoparticle Vaccine
Nicole Steinmetz | October 11, 2023

Curbing Lung Cancer Metastasis with Nanoparticle Vaccine
Nicole Steinmetz | October 11, 2023

Scientists at the University of California (UC), San Diego, have developed an experimental vaccine that could curb the spread of metastatic cancers to the lungs. The key ingredients of the vaccine are nanoparticles that have been engineered to target a protein known to play a central role in cancer growth and spread. The vaccine significantly reduced the spread of metastatic breast and skin cancers to the lungs in mice. It also improved the survival rate in mice with metastatic breast cancer after surgical removal of the primary tumor.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in an article titled, “Viral nanoparticle vaccines against S100A9 reduce lung tumor seeding and metastasis.”

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Restoring nerve-muscle connections boosts strength of aging mice, Stanford Medicine study finds
Helen Blau | October 11, 2023

Restoring nerve-muscle connections boosts strength of aging mice, Stanford Medicine study finds
Helen Blau | October 11, 2023

A drug that boosts strength in injured or aging mice restores connections between nerves and muscle and suggests ways to combat weakness in humans due to aging, injury or disease.

A small molecule previously shown to enhance strength in injured or old laboratory mice does so by restoring lost connections between nerves and muscle fibers, Stanford Medicine researchers have found.

The molecule blocks the activity of an aging-associated enzyme, or gerozyme, called 15-PGDH that naturally increases in muscles as they age. The study showed that levels of the gerozyme increase in muscles after nerve damage and that it is prevalent in muscle fibers of people with neuromuscular diseases.

The research is the first to show that damaged motor neurons — nerves connecting the spinal cord to muscles — can be induced to regenerate in response to a drug treatment and that lost strength and muscle mass can be at least partially regained. It suggests that, if similar results are seen in humans, the drug may one day be used to prevent muscle loss of muscle strength due to aging or disease or to hasten recovery from injury.

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Regina Barzilay elected to the National Academy of Medicine for 2023
Regina Barzilay | October 10, 2023

Regina Barzilay elected to the National Academy of Medicine for 2023
Regina Barzilay | October 10, 2023

The National Academy of Medicine announced the election of 100 new members to join their esteemed ranks in 2023, among them five MIT faculty members and seven additional affiliates.

MIT professors Daniel Anderson, Regina Barzilay, Guoping Feng, Darrell Irvine, and Morgen Shen were among the new members. Justin Hanes PhD ’96, Said Ibrahim MBA ’16, and Jennifer West ’92, along with three former students in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) — Michael Chiang, Siddhartha Mukherjee, and Robert Vonderheide — were also elected, as was Yi Zhang, an associate member of The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service, the academy noted in announcing the election of its new members.

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Tumor-destroying sound waves receive FDA approval for liver treatment in humans
Zhen Xu | October 9, 2023

Tumor-destroying sound waves receive FDA approval for liver treatment in humans
Zhen Xu | October 9, 2023

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of sound waves to break down tumors—a technique called histotripsy—in humans for liver treatment.

Pioneered at the University of Michigan, histotripsy offers a promising alternative to cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which often have significant side effects. Today, FDA officials awarded clearance to HistoSonics, a company co-founded in 2009 by U-M engineers and doctors for the use of histotripsy to destroy targeted liver tissue.

A human trial underway since 2021 at the U-M Rogel Cancer Center and other locations has treated patients with primary and metastatic liver tumors via histotripsy, demonstrating the technology’s ability to meet the testing’s primary effectiveness and safety targets.

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Dean Jennifer L. West Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Jennifer West | October 9, 2023

Dean Jennifer L. West Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Jennifer West | October 9, 2023

Jennifer L. West, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia, has been elected to the prestigious NATIONAL ACADEMY OF MEDICINE, one of the highest recognitions in health and medicine. The National Academy of Medicine is one of three institutions that make up the National Academies, operating under an 1863 Congressional charter signed by President Lincoln to assemble experts to advise the nation in science and technology.

“It is my honor to welcome this truly exceptional class of new members to the National Academy of Medicine,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau. “Their contributions to health and medicine are unparalleled, and their leadership and expertise will be essential to helping the NAM tackle today’s urgent health challenges, inform the future of health care, and ensure health equity for the benefit of all around the globe.

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The cactus chemist: Dr. Norma Alcantar
Norma Alcantar | September 5, 2023

The cactus chemist: Dr. Norma Alcantar
Norma Alcantar | September 5, 2023

Among the typical things you’d expect to find in a chemical engineer’s office — honorary awards, patent plaques, and books like “Environmental Analytical Chemistry” and “Introducing Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics” — Dr. Norma Alcantar’s office at the University of South Florida (USF) also showcases her love of life and teaching with books like “Intentional Integrity,” a coffee mug that reads “the influence of a good teacher can never be erased,” and a decorative plaque that reads “It’s All Gonna Be Fine.”

But hidden between the intellectual and inspirational materials, two sets of objects stand out: a series of cacti and owl collectibles. To the uninitiated, they appear to be whimsical office décor, but to those who know Alcantar, the folklore wisdom of the owl and the hardy, but elegantly designed cacti plant represent the tapestry of her life and career.

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Engineered Proteins Take On Cancer’s Epigenome
Karmella Haynes | August 24, 2023

Engineered Proteins Take On Cancer’s Epigenome
Karmella Haynes | August 24, 2023

In addition to characterizing the genetic basis for different cancers, scientists are increasingly interested in the role of the epigenome in tumor development, and possible therapies that can target genes repressed by chemically modifying chromatin in cancer.

Part of what makes the epigenome an attractive target is the possibility of hitting a system of proteins involved in gene expression programming rather than a single target, according to Karmella Haynes, PhD, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Emory University. She and a team of scientists from Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology have developed another potential approach for reactivating repressed tumor suppressor genes that could ultimately have implications for how solid tumors like triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) are treated.

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Ameer Wins 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award
Guillermo Ameer | August 23, 2023

Ameer Wins 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award
Guillermo Ameer | August 23, 2023

The award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the science of biomaterials

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer has been elected the winner of the 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award, an honor given by the Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation (SIBF).

The award, the highest given by the foundation, recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the biomaterials science field. Previous winners include Moderna cofounder Robert Langer (2020) and the late Northwestern professor Richard Van Duyne (1991).

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Transforming flies into degradable plastics
Karen Wooley | August 14, 2023

Transforming flies into degradable plastics
Karen Wooley | August 14, 2023

Imagine using insects as a source of chemicals to make plastics that can biodegrade later — with the help of that very same type of bug. That concept is closer to reality than you might expect. Today, researchers will describe their progress to date, including isolation and purification of insect-derived chemicals and their conversion into functional bioplastics.

The researchers will present their results at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2023 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person Aug. 13–17, and features about 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“For 20 years, my group has been developing methods to transform natural products — such as glucose obtained from sugar cane or trees — into degradable, digestible polymers that don’t persist in the environment,” said Karen Wooley, PhD, the project’s principal investigator.

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Deep learning unlocks personalised cancer therapy
Rachel Karchin | August 14, 2023

Deep learning unlocks personalised cancer therapy
Rachel Karchin | August 14, 2023

Engineers and cancer researchers have harnessed the power of machine learning technology to predict immune-boosting proteins.

Machine learning technology developed by a team of Johns Hopkins engineers and cancer researchers can accurately predict cancer-related protein fragments that may trigger an immune system response.

If validated in clinical trials, the technology could help scientists overcome a major hurdle to developing personalised immunotherapies and vaccines.

In a new study, investigators from Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Computational Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy show that their deep learning method, called BigMHC, can identify protein fragments on cancer cells that elicit a tumour cell-killing immune response, an essential step in understanding response to immunotherapy and in developing personalised cancer therapies.

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New DNA Identification Approach Could Improve Monitoring for Chronic Diseases
Shana Kelley | July 26, 2023

New DNA Identification Approach Could Improve Monitoring for Chronic Diseases
Shana Kelley | July 26, 2023

Investigators led by Shana Kelley, PhD, the Neena B. Schwartz Professor of Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, have developed a novel approach for identifying sequences of artificial DNA with differing levels of binding to other small molecules.

The approach, detailed in a study published in Nature Chemistry, could help improve the efficiency of diagnostic monitoring for patients with chronic diseases.

Aptamers are sequences of artificial DNA that selectively bind to other small molecules such as peptides, carbohydrates and foreign pathogens. Aptamers can be used for therapeutic purposes in the same way as monoclonal antibodies, and have been used for pathogen and cancer recognition as well as stem cell markers.

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Study optimizes patient-specific stem cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease
Jeanne Loring | July 19, 2023

Study optimizes patient-specific stem cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease
Jeanne Loring | July 19, 2023

The discovery by scientists from Scripps Research and Cardiff University paves the way for clinical trials that use patients’ own cells to treat Parkinson’s disease

Scientists from Scripps Research and Cardiff University made key discoveries in support of a new stem cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease. The approach, called an autologous therapy, uses induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)—made from a patient’s own skin or blood cells—to replace the neurons in the brain that are lost in Parkinson’s. Transplants of a person’s own cells eliminates the need for immunosuppression.

In a new study, the researchers used iPSCs made from the skin cells of two people with Parkinson’s disease to make young neurons that were successfully transplanted into a rat model with the disease. They used the animal model to pinpoint exactly at what stage of development the iPSC-derived neurons should be transplanted to become mature neurons that can reverse signs of disease in the rat brain.

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Study finds tracking brain waves could reduce post-op complications
Emery Brown | July 17, 2023

Study finds tracking brain waves could reduce post-op complications
Emery Brown | July 17, 2023

Distinctive EEG patterns indicate when a patient’s state of unconsciousness under general anesthesia is more profound than necessary.

When patients undergo general anesthesia, their brain activity often slows down as they sink into unconsciousness. Higher doses of anesthetic drugs can induce an even deeper state of unconsciousness known as burst suppression, which is associated with cognitive impairments after the patient wakes up.

A new study from MIT, in which the researchers analyzed the EEG patterns of patients under anesthesia, has revealed brain wave signatures that could help anesthesiologists determine when patients are transitioning into that deeper state of unconsciousness. This could enable them to prevent patients from falling into that state, reducing the risk of postoperative brain dysfunction.

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Promising new approach finds cancer, delivers therapy all at once
Julie Sutcliffe | June 28, 2023

Promising new approach finds cancer, delivers therapy all at once
Julie Sutcliffe | June 28, 2023

New research is offering some hope in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

The answer is nuclear medicine. And the power to find cancer and deliver therapy all at the same time. Theranostics, combining therapy and diagnostics, is a promising approach to cancer treatment.

While some people fear the idea of using radioactive isotopes as a therapy in the body, Julie Sutcliffe PhD. knows the power for good.

“You have a molecule, same molecule with a different piece of radioactivity on it, so one is for imaging for diagnostics, one is for therapy for treatment,” she said. “So theranostics combine the two words together.”

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DNA test could broaden access to cervical cancer screening
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | June 21, 2023

DNA test could broaden access to cervical cancer screening
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | June 21, 2023

Rice engineers show low-cost, point-of-care platform is effective for HPV testing

Rice University bioengineers have demonstrated a low-cost, point-of-care DNA test for HPV infections that could make cervical cancer screening more accessible in low- and middle-income countries where the disease kills more than 300,000 women each year.

HPV, a family of viruses, infects nearly everyone at some point in their lives, often without symptoms. But more than a dozen types of HPV can cause persistent infections that result in cervical cancer, which is preventable and curable if it is detected early and managed effectively.

Nine engineers from the laboratory of Rice Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum spent more than two years developing a DNA testing platform that combines two technologies, isothermal DNA amplification and lateral flow detection, in a way that greatly simplifies the equipment needs and procedures for testing.

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Designing Surfaces to Improve Bone Grafts
Guillermo Ameer | June 12, 2023

Designing Surfaces to Improve Bone Grafts
Guillermo Ameer | June 12, 2023

The field of bone implants has taken incredible strides thanks to technological innovations that allow for stronger grafts that are easier to install.

Yet even with these advances, there are still risks involved in such procedures. Implants can be loosened following operations, for example, which can lead to costly surgical revisions that lengthen the recovery process for patients.

New research from an interdisciplinary team from Northwestern Engineering’s Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering (CARE) and Center for Physical Genomics and Engineering (CPGE) could reduce the likelihood of these painful, expensive complications.

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How the combination of advanced ultrasound and AI could upgrade cancer diagnostics
Azra Alizad | June 5, 2023

How the combination of advanced ultrasound and AI could upgrade cancer diagnostics
Azra Alizad | June 5, 2023

Researchers have shown that an automated cancer diagnostic method, which pairs cutting-edge ultrasound techniques with artificial intelligence, can accurately diagnose thyroid cancer, of which there are more than 40,000 new cases every year.

The method—deemed high-definition microvasculature imaging, or HDMI—noninvasively captures images of the tiny vessels within tumors and, based on the vessel features, automatically classifies the masses. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, who developed the technique, tested it on 92 patients with thyroid tumors, finding that the method could distinguish if the growths were cancerous with 89% accuracy. In a study published in the journal Cancers, the authors suggest that HDMI could potentially resolve a long-standing diagnostic challenge of assessing thyroid tumors in the clinic.

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Healing Big Broken Bones With a Small Molecule
Cato Laurencin | May 24, 2023

Healing Big Broken Bones With a Small Molecule
Cato Laurencin | May 24, 2023

Repairing severely damaged bones is a challenge—especially the long bones of the arms and legs. Now, UConn Health scientists describe a new method in the 22 May issue of PNAS that can promote regrowth of long bones more affordably and with fewer side effects than other techniques.

Cleanly broken bones often heal without problems. But bones with smashed or missing sections are much more difficult to regenerate. Grafting across the gaps using bone from elsewhere is one way to fix them, and about 500,000 bone grafts are done in the US every year. But bone grafts alone don’t always work, and they’re quite costly. Recently, orthopedic surgeons have begun treating difficult breaks with specific human proteins that encourage bone growth, both alone and paired with grafts or scaffolds. They are used to encourage bone regrowth in spinal fusion surgeries, for example.

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Johns Hopkins Machine Learning Tool Can Identify Tumor Cell Interactions
Elana Fertig | May 12, 2023

Johns Hopkins Machine Learning Tool Can Identify Tumor Cell Interactions
Elana Fertig | May 12, 2023

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Convergence Institute and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a machine learning (ML) model capable of identifying molecular interactions among the cells in and around tumors.

The tool, known as SpaceMarkers, leverages spatial transcriptomics, a type of technology that helps measure gene expression within a tissue sample using the genes’ locations in cells.

The press release indicates that by understanding both these intercellular interactions in the tumor microenvironment and the molecular profiles of individual cells, researchers can gain insights into tumor progression..

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Jennifer Elisseeff elected to National Academy of Sciences
Jennifer Elisseeff | May 5, 2023

Jennifer Elisseeff elected to National Academy of Sciences
Jennifer Elisseeff | May 5, 2023

Three Johns Hopkins researchers elected to National Academy of Sciences

Neuroscientist Amy Bastian, biomedical engineer Jennifer Elisseeff, astrophysicist Alex Szalay among 120 new members

Three Johns Hopkins University researchers—neuroscientist Amy Bastian, biomedical engineer Jennifer Elisseeff, and astrophysicist and computer scientist Alex Szalay—have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

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Teri Odom Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Teri Odom | May 4, 2023

Teri Odom Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Teri Odom | May 4, 2023

Joining the company of some of history’s most distinguished scientists, Northwestern Engineering’s Teri W. Odom has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Along with fellow Northwestern faculty members Timothy K. Earle and Richard B. Silverman, Odom was recognized for her excellence and notable contributions to their field of science. They are among the 120 new members and 23 new international members selected this year.

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Pharmacy Researchers License New NSAIDS-Administering Technology
Diane Burgess | May 4, 2023

Pharmacy Researchers License New NSAIDS-Administering Technology
Diane Burgess | May 4, 2023

Slow-releasing implants are designed to reduce side effects associated with medications for pain relief of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

For rheumatologic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, NSAIDS are often the first line of medications used for pain relief. UConn Pharmacy researchers have discovered a way to minimize the side effects associated with the treatment and bring it to market.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are widely used to relieve pain, reduce fever, and bring down inflammation. More than 30 billion doses are taken each year — making them among the most popular medications worldwide for general pain relief.

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Microneedle Patch Printer Enables On-Demand Vaccine Manufacturing
Ana Jaklenec | April 24, 2023

Microneedle Patch Printer Enables On-Demand Vaccine Manufacturing
Ana Jaklenec | April 24, 2023

The portable instrument could increase global access to vaccines by simplifying their storage, distribution, and administration.

Researchers from the lab of Robert Langer, ScD, at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), say they have developed a printer for microneedle patches smaller than postage stamps that penetrate the skin to deliver vaccines, including the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

The research article, “A microneedle vaccine printer for thermostable COVID-19 mRNA vaccines,” was published in Nature Biotechnology.

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CRISPR-Cas-amplified urinary biomarkers for multiplexed and portable cancer diagnostics
Sangeeta Bhatia | April 24, 2023

CRISPR-Cas-amplified urinary biomarkers for multiplexed and portable cancer diagnostics
Sangeeta Bhatia | April 24, 2023

Synthetic biomarkers, bioengineered sensors that generate molecular reporters in diseased microenvironments, represent an emerging paradigm in precision diagnostics. Despite the utility of DNA barcodes as a multiplexing tool, their susceptibility to nucleases in vivo has limited their utility. Here we exploit chemically stabilized nucleic acids to multiplex synthetic biomarkers and produce diagnostic signals in biofluids that can be ‘read out’ via CRISPR nucleases. The strategy relies on microenvironmental endopeptidase to trigger the release of nucleic acid barcodes and polymerase-amplification-free, CRISPR-Cas-mediated barcode detection in unprocessed urine. Our data suggest that DNA-encoded nanosensors can non-invasively detect and differentiate disease states in transplanted and autochthonous murine cancer models. We also demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas amplification can be harnessed to convert the readout to a point-of-care paper diagnostic tool. Finally, we employ a microfluidic platform for densely multiplexed, CRISPR-mediated DNA barcode readout that can potentially evaluate complex human diseases rapidly and guide therapeutic decisions.

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Python-based compiler achieves orders-of-magnitude speedups
Bonnie Berger | March 14, 2023

Python-based compiler achieves orders-of-magnitude speedups
Bonnie Berger | March 14, 2023

Codon compiles Python code to run more efficiently and effectively while allowing for customization and adaptation to various domains.

In 2018, the Economist published an in-depth piece on the programming language Python. “In the past 12 months,” the article said, “Google users in America have searched for Python more often than for Kim Kardashian.” Reality TV stars, be wary.

The high-level language has earned its popularity, too, with legions of users flocking daily to the language for its ease of use due in part to its simple and easy-to-learn syntax. This led researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and elsewhere to make a tool to help run Python code more efficiently and effectively while allowing for customization and adaptation to different needs and contexts. The compiler, which is a software tool that translates source code into machine code that can be executed by a computer’s processor, lets developers create new domain-specific languages (DSLs) within Python — which is typically orders of magnitude slower than languages like C or C++ — while still getting the performance benefits of those other languages.

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‘Groundbreaking’ Soil Sensors From UT Dallas Bioengineers Could Help Combat Climate Change, Food Insecurity
Shalini Prasad | March 9, 2023

‘Groundbreaking’ Soil Sensors From UT Dallas Bioengineers Could Help Combat Climate Change, Food Insecurity
Shalini Prasad | March 9, 2023

“This is the equivalent of having a wearable health sensor on your body that tells you in real time what’s happening. Think of it as a wearable for the soil,” Dr. Shalini Prasad said.

Soil quality isn’t just a concern for farmers and policymakers—it also matters on a personal level. The health of our soil affects everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe. But thanks to bioengineers at UT Dallas, new soil sensors could help improve soil productivity on a global scale.

Bioengineers at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed sensors that monitor multiple soil parameters, including total soil carbon, to provide farmers with accurate, real-time, continuous data to improve soil health and productivity.

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AI Model Provides Insights into Long-Term Traumatic Brain Injury Risk
Ellen Kuhl | March 7, 2023

AI Model Provides Insights into Long-Term Traumatic Brain Injury Risk
Ellen Kuhl | March 7, 2023

A new AI model may signal a ‘paradigm shift’ in traumatic brain injury research by more accurately modeling the tissue deformations that lead to brain damage.

Stanford University researchers are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify which computational models perform best at modeling mechanical stress on the brain, which may help drive insights into why some traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) lead to long-term brain damage while others do not.

The press release states that the ability to model the mechanical forces causing the compression, stretching, twisting, and other deformations of brain tissue that lead to brain damage is critical to understanding TBI. This modeling could help researchers understand why some TBIs lead to lasting brain damage and some don’t.

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First Transient Electronic Bandage Speeds Healing by 30 Percent
Guillermo Ameer | February 22, 2023

First Transient Electronic Bandage Speeds Healing by 30 Percent
Guillermo Ameer | February 22, 2023

Northwestern Engineering researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind small, flexible, stretchable bandage that accelerates healing by delivering electrotherapy directly to the wound site. 

In an animal study, the new bandage healed diabetic ulcers 30 percent faster than in mice without the bandage. 

The bandage also actively monitors the healing process and then harmlessly dissolves — electrodes and all — into the body after it is no longer needed. The new device could provide a powerful tool for patients with diabetes, whose ulcers can lead to various complications, including amputated limbs or even death.

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Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations
National Academies

Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations
National Academies

People from minoritized racial and ethnic groups continue to face numerous systemic barriers that impede their ability to access, persist, and thrive in STEMM higher education and the workforce.

To promote a culture of antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI) in STEMM, organizations must actively work to dismantle policies and practices that disadvantage people from minoritized groups.

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Disrupted flow of brain fluid may underlie neurodevelopmental disorders
Samuel Achilefu | February 9, 2023

Disrupted flow of brain fluid may underlie neurodevelopmental disorders
Samuel Achilefu | February 9, 2023

The brain floats in a sea of fluid that cushions it against injury, supplies it with nutrients and carries away waste. Disruptions to the normal ebb and flow of the fluid have been linked to neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and hydrocephalus, a disorder involving excess fluid around the brain.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis created a new technique for tracking circulation patterns of fluid through the brain and discovered, in rodents, that it flows to areas critical for normal brain development and function. Further, the scientists found that circulation appears abnormal in young rats with hydrocephalus, a condition associated with cognitive deficits in children.

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National Academy of Engineering adds 3 Buckeyes
Judit E. Puskas | February 9, 2023

National Academy of Engineering adds 3 Buckeyes
Judit E. Puskas | February 9, 2023

Election recognizes outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education

Two Ohio State University professors and a recently retired faculty member have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2023 in recognition of sustained excellence in innovation and education.

Alan Luo, Judit E. Puskas and Longya Xu are among 124 new NAE members, bringing the total U.S. membership to 2,420 and the number of international members to 319.

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Melody Swartz Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Melody Swartz | February 9, 2023

Melody Swartz Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Melody Swartz | February 9, 2023

Melody Swartz, William B. Ogden Professor at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for her research into lymphatic transport and immunobiology, informing novel approaches for cancer immunotherapy and vaccination.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions for engineers. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education, particularly as it relates to developing fields of technology or advancements in traditional fields of engineering.

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NIST Director Laurie Locascio Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Laurie Locascio | February 8, 2023

NIST Director Laurie Locascio Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Laurie Locascio | February 8, 2023

Laurie E. Locascio, under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering — one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. 

Locascio leads NIST’s collaborative efforts with industry, academia and government to unleash U.S. innovation by advancing technology, measurements and standards. A key priority for her is the successful implementation of the CHIPS for America initiative, a $50 billion suite of programs to strengthen and revitalize U.S. leadership in semiconductor research, development and manufacturing. 

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Barzilay elected to National Academy of Engineering
Regina Barzilay | February 7, 2023

Barzilay elected to National Academy of Engineering
Regina Barzilay | February 7, 2023

On February 7th, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) elected Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and CSAIL member Regina Barzilay as a new member. The NAE recognized Barzilay for her work on machine learning models that understand structures in text, molecules, and medical images, choosing members who are “pioneering new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

Her election caps off a remarkable decade of work. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, Barzilay shifted much of her efforts toward cancer research. Three years later, she developed a machine learning model that could have diagnosed her cancer earlier. In 2018, she helped launch the Jameel Clinic, which has since initiated machine learning efforts on COVID-19, different forms of cancer, Parkinson’s, and other diseases.

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Michael J. Barber elected to National Academy of Engineering
Michael J. Barber | February 7, 2023

Michael J. Barber elected to National Academy of Engineering
Michael J. Barber | February 7, 2023

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 106 new members and 18 international members, announced NAE President John L. Anderson today. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,420 and the number of international members to 319.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.

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How sound waves trigger immune responses to cancer in mice
Zhen Xu | January 31, 2023

How sound waves trigger immune responses to cancer in mice
Zhen Xu | January 31, 2023

When noninvasive sound waves break apart tumors, they trigger an immune response in mice. By breaking down the cell wall “cloak,” the treatment exposes cancer cell markers that had previously been hidden from the body’s defenses, researchers at the University of Michigan have shown.

The technique developed at Michigan, known as histotripsy, offers a two-prong approach to attacking cancers: the physical destruction of tumors via sound waves and the kickstarting of the body’s immune response. It could potentially offer medical professionals a treatment option for patients without the harmful side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

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How to make hydrogels more injectable
Jennifer Lewis | January 31, 2023

How to make hydrogels more injectable
Jennifer Lewis | January 31, 2023

Gel-like materials that can be injected into the body hold great potential to heal injured tissues or manufacture entirely new tissues. Many researchers are working to develop these hydrogels for biomedical uses, but so far very few have made it into the clinic.

To help guide in the development of such materials, which are made from microscale building blocks akin to squishy LEGOs, MIT and Harvard University researchers have created a set of computational models to predict the material’s structure, mechanical properties, and functional performance outcomes. The researchers hope that their new framework could make it easier to design materials that can be injected for different types of applications, which until now has been mainly a trial-and-error process.

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Accurate integrated imaging and projection system for oral cancer diagnosis
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | January 19, 2023

Accurate integrated imaging and projection system for oral cancer diagnosis
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | January 19, 2023

Oral cancer is a globally prevalent disease with an astonishingly low five-year survival rate of less than 50%. A key factor for its poor prognosis is delayed diagnosis resulting in more late-stage oral cancers. At these later stages, treatment becomes less effective and harsher on the body. Hence, many scientists aim to develop and improve diagnostic techniques for the early detection of oral cancer. At present, the gold standard for the diagnosis of most oral cancers is biopsy of suspicious oral lesions and pathologic analysis of the extracted small amounts of tissue. However, it is extremely important that clinicians biopsy the areas within the abnormal lesion with the worst disease. Currently, the decision whether or not to perform a biopsy, and the optimal biopsy site, are based on clinical examination, which greatly depends upon the experience of the examining clinician. To help identify high-risk regions, clinicians can also use commercially available imaging techniques based on autofluorescence to detect abnormal tissue at the macroscopic level, although current autofluorescence technologies suffer from low specificity for neoplastic disease.

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University of Toronto scientists use machine learning to fast-track drug formulation development
Christine Allen | January 10, 2023

University of Toronto scientists use machine learning to fast-track drug formulation development
Christine Allen | January 10, 2023

Scientists at the University of Toronto have successfully tested the use of machine learning models to guide the design of long-acting injectable drug formulations. The potential for machine learning algorithms to accelerate drug formulation could reduce the time and cost associated with drug development, making promising new medicines available faster.

The study was published today in Nature Communications and is one of the first to apply machine learning techniques to the design of polymeric long-acting injectable drug formulations.

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Mechanism Behind Osteoarthritis Could Lead to New Treatments
Fabrisia Ambrosio | January 10, 2023

Mechanism Behind Osteoarthritis Could Lead to New Treatments
Fabrisia Ambrosio | January 10, 2023

Researchers in the United States and Japan have discovered a new mechanism that links age-related cartilage tissue stiffening with the repression of a key protein associated with longevity. These findings enhance the understanding of mechanisms that lead to the deterioration of joints that causes osteoarthritis, according to the authors of a new study, published January 10th in Nature Communications.

In the study, researchers showed that increased stiffening of the extracellular matrix – a network of proteins and other molecules that surround and support tissues in the body – led to a decrease in a so-called “longevity protein” called Klotho (α-Klotho) in knee cartilage brought about by epigenetic changes. This Klotho decrease then damaged the cells in healthy cartilage called chondrocytes. Conversely, exposing aged chondrocytes to a softer extracellular matrix restored the knee cartilage to a more youthful state.

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Harriet Nembhard named president of Harvey Mudd College
Harriet Nembhard | December 6, 2022

Harriet Nembhard named president of Harvey Mudd College
Harriet Nembhard | December 6, 2022

Harriet Nembhard, dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering, has been named president of Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts college specializing in science, engineering, and mathematics located in Claremont, California.

Nembhard, who joined Iowa in June 2020, will begin her new position July 1. The UI will conduct a national search for Nembhard’s replacement.

“I congratulate Dean Nembhard and wish her the best of luck in her new role,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. “Under her leadership, the College of Engineering has continued to build upon its exceptional research reputation while advancing equity and inclusion in STEM education. She leaves the college in a strong position moving forward.

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LaShanda Korley Appointed U.S. Science Envoy
LaShanda Korley | December 6, 2022

LaShanda Korley Appointed U.S. Science Envoy
LaShanda Korley | December 6, 2022

Esteemed engineer to travel the world to advance science and technology cooperation with U.S.

LaShanda Korley, Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware, has been appointed a U.S. Science Envoy for 2023. The announcement was made by the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Through the Science Envoy Program, eminent U.S. scientists and engineers leverage their expertise and networks to forge connections and identify opportunities for sustained international cooperation, championing innovation and demonstrating America’s scientific leadership and technical ingenuity.

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Finding the “Sweet Spot” for Indoor Humidity May Help to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission
Lydia Bourouiba | November 18, 2022

Finding the “Sweet Spot” for Indoor Humidity May Help to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission
Lydia Bourouiba | November 18, 2022

As friends and families are beginning to plan holiday gatherings, a new study found that raising the humidity level could be another mitigation method to reduce COVID-19. That sweet spot looks to be between 40% and 60% humidity.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) combined population-based COVID-19 data with meteorologic measurements from 121 countries collected between January and August 2020 (J R Soc Interface 2022;19[196]:20210865). Countries included had reported at least 50 COVID-19–related deaths, indicating at least one outbreak had occurred. The researchers processed the epidemiological data while accounting for bias, and developed a computational workflow to estimate indoor conditions based on outdoor weather data and standard indoor comfort conditions.

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Vanderbilt study finds that diabetes may hasten breast cancer tumor growth and stiffness
Cynthia Reinhart-King | November 18, 2022

Vanderbilt study finds that diabetes may hasten breast cancer tumor growth and stiffness
Cynthia Reinhart-King | November 18, 2022

While diabetes is already associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer, a new Vanderbilt study published in Science Advances on November 18 indicates that presence of the disease may increase tumor growth and stiffness.

Researchers also found that diabetes treatments could reduce the tumor growth and stiffness to levels comparable with non-diabetic ones. The research was led by Cynthia Reinhart-King, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering and University Distinguished Professor. Vanderbilt Ph.D. student Wenjun Wang, a current member of Reinhart-King’s cellular mechanics lab, and Lauren Hapach, PhD’21, a former lab member, were co-authors.

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Are Covid-19 “comas” signs of a protective hibernation state?
Emery Brown | November 18, 2022

Are Covid-19 “comas” signs of a protective hibernation state?
Emery Brown | November 18, 2022

Scientists hypothesize that, as in a hibernating turtle, the brain under sedation and deprived of oxygen may assume a protective state.

Many Covid-19 patients who have been treated for weeks or months with mechanical ventilation have been slow to regain consciousness even after being taken off sedation. A new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers the hypothesis that this peculiar response could be the effect of a hibernation-like state invoked by the brain to protect cells from injury when oxygen is scarce.

A very similar kind of state, characterized by the same signature change of brain rhythms, is not only observed in cardiac arrest patients treated by chilling their body temperature, a method called “hypothermia,” but also by the painted turtle, which has evolved a form of self-sedation to contend with long periods of oxygen deprivation, or “anoxia,” when it overwinters underwater.

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Old mice regain leg strength after antibody treatment, Stanford Medicine researchers find
Helen Blau | November 15, 2022

Old mice regain leg strength after antibody treatment, Stanford Medicine researchers find
Helen Blau | November 15, 2022

Muscle stem cells, the cells in muscle fibers that generate new muscle cells after injury or exercise, lose their potency with age. But a study by researchers at Stanford Medicine shows that old mice regain the leg muscle strength of younger animals after receiving an antibody treatment that targets a pathway mediated by a molecule called CD47.

The findings are surprising because CD47, billed as the “don’t eat me” molecule, is better known as a target for cancer immunotherapy than for muscle regeneration. It peppers the surface of many cancer cells, protecting them from immune cells that patrol the body to root out and engulf dysfunctional or abnormal cells. Now it seems old muscle stem cells may use a similar approach to avoid being culled by the immune system.

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Dimension Inx and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago awarded joint NIH grant to expand fertility restoration options
Ramille Shah | November 10, 2022

Dimension Inx and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago awarded joint NIH grant to expand fertility restoration options
Ramille Shah | November 10, 2022

Exploratory collaboration will focus on developing strategies using 3-D printed bioscaffolds to support the growth and maturation of ovarian follicles to produce fertilizable eggs

Newswise — Dimension Inx, a regenerative biomaterials company, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago have been jointly awarded an NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant. The grant focuses on uncovering a novel approach to in vitro growth and maturation (IVGM) of ovarian follicles. Together, Dimension Inx and Lurie Children’s will use the funding to further explore the development of a more accessible and affordable infertility preservation intervention, one particularly useful in the emerging field of oncofertility.

Infertility is a significant and growing global health problem, with estimates suggesting more than 186 million individuals live with infertility worldwide. While assistive reproductive technologies (ART) methods like IVF have been available for over four decades, these technologies remain largely inaccessible and unaffordable.

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Popular Pharmaceutical Target in Cells May Prove Even More Useful
Jin Zhang | October 26, 2022

Popular Pharmaceutical Target in Cells May Prove Even More Useful
Jin Zhang | October 26, 2022

Researchers at University of California San Diego have identified a new signaling process involving G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a cellular target already exploited by hundreds of diverse drugs. The discovery, published in the October 26, 2022 issue of Nature, opens the possibility of new therapies, including for multiple forms of cancer.

GPCRs are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes — cells containing a nucleus and other organelles. Residing on the cell’s surface, they act as an inbox for messages arriving in the form of sugars, proteins, lipids and peptides, and play myriad roles in body functions, including fundamentally in regulating communications between cells.

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What causes severe COVID symptoms? Research examines role of immune systems
Melody Swartz | October 20, 2022

What causes severe COVID symptoms? Research examines role of immune systems
Melody Swartz | October 20, 2022

UChicago study examines how autoantibodies could cause complications in some patients

Since the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians and scientists worldwide have been working to understand how exactly the virus makes us sick. That task, already complicated by COVID’s rapid spread, is made more challenging by some of its unusual, seemingly inexplicable symptoms, such as blood pressure dysregulation and blood clots.

Now, research from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) shows that the immune system may unintentionally contribute to the disease’s strangest symptoms.

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Katherine Pollard Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Katherine Pollard | October 17, 2022

Katherine Pollard Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Katherine Pollard | October 17, 2022

Gladstone Data Scientist Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Data scientist and statistician Katie Pollard, PhD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Data Science and Biotechnology, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the highest honors in health and medicine. Through its election process, the Academy recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Pollard is perhaps best known for developing a novel statistical approach to identify human accelerated regions (HARs), which are stretches of DNA that rapidly changed when humans evolved from primate ancestors. Many of these regions of the human genome help determine when and where important genes—including those associated with diseases—are turned on or off.

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Audrey Bowden receives NIH funding to develop point-of-care detection of jaundice in newborns
Audrey Bowden | October 13, 2022

Audrey Bowden receives NIH funding to develop point-of-care detection of jaundice in newborns
Audrey Bowden | October 13, 2022

Audrey Bowden, Dorothy J. Wingfield Phillips Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow and associate professor of biomedical and electrical engineering, has won a grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to develop a novel noninvasive smartphone-integrated device to provide accurate, point-of-care detection of jaundice in newborns of all skin tones.

Newborns have immature liver function that is inefficient at metabolizing bilirubin, a yellowish pigment that is made during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. Consequently, nearly 80 percent of preterm and 60 percent of term babies develop hyperbilirubinemia, a potentially fatal form of neonatal jaundice, within a week of their birth. The gold standard for detecting hyperbilirubinemia is the use of frequent blood tests to measure bilirubin levels, but this approach is expensive and painful and increases likelihood of infection.

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Tissue chip developments: what’s the 411?
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | October 4, 2022

Tissue chip developments: what’s the 411?
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | October 4, 2022

Tissue chips—tiny mimics of human organs, just millimeters in size—represent an alternative to animal models as a way to study disease or evaluate drugs. However, a major limitation of tissue chips is that they do not faithfully imitate tissue interactions, so it’s impossible to know how a treatment for liver disease, for example, might affect another organ, like the heart.

To improve this technology, NIBIB-funded researchers have developed an interlinked tissue chip system that can model four mature organs in their perspective environments simultaneously. These multi-organ tissue chips, which could be personalized to model individual patients, may represent a new way to evaluate the systemic effects of novel drugs.

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Gene Loss Enhances Metastasis and Cancer Progression
Shana Kelley | September 29, 2022

Gene Loss Enhances Metastasis and Cancer Progression
Shana Kelley | September 29, 2022

Investigators have discovered that the loss of the gene SLIT2 in circulating tumor cells regulates metastasis of prostate cancer tumors, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Science Advances.

Metastasis accounts for most cancer-related deaths, yet its underlying mechanisms have remained poorly understood despite recent advances in cancer treatments and care.

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Leading Tissue Regeneration Expert to Chair UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
Shayn Peirce-Cottler | September 9, 2022

Leading Tissue Regeneration Expert to Chair UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
Shayn Peirce-Cottler | September 9, 2022

Shayn Peirce-Cottler, PhD, an international leader in biomedical engineering and a University of Virginia faculty member since 2004, has been named chair of UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. She succeeds Frederick H. Epstein, PhD, who has served as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering – a joint program of UVA’s School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science – since 2011. Epstein was named the School of Engineering’s associate dean for research earlier this year.

“With her long tenure at UVA, Dr. Peirce-Cottler has a deep understanding and appreciation for our talented, accomplished team in the Department of Biomedical Engineering,” said Melina R. Kibbe, MD, the dean of the School of Medicine and chief health affairs officer for UVA Health. “She is a nationally recognized outstanding scientist and educator and has been a shining leader within the department. I look forward to seeing how she builds on the department’s 55 years of innovation.” 

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Discovery points to new drug targets that could prevent cancer spread
Sylvia Plevritis | August 22, 2022

Discovery points to new drug targets that could prevent cancer spread
Sylvia Plevritis | August 22, 2022

Any cancer cell migrating from a tumor to set up shop elsewhere in the body will face a brutal attack from an immune system programmed to seek and destroy abnormal cells. But two recent studies from Stanford Medicine show that the hearty few that manage to infiltrate nearby lymph nodes carry out a stunning biological coup — convincing the body’s defense system to accept them as part of its own tissues. This savvy rebranding gives tumor cells a free pass to easily metastasize to any site in the body and significantly worsen cancer prognoses.

The studies, conducted in laboratory mice, human cells and human tissue samples from cancer patients, upend the idea that lymph nodes — often the first site of metastasis — are simply passive downstream harbors for circulating cancer cells that have broken loose from nearby tumors.

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New strategy for delivery of therapeutic proteins could help treat degenerative eye diseases
Molly Shoichet | August 18, 2022

New strategy for delivery of therapeutic proteins could help treat degenerative eye diseases
Molly Shoichet | August 18, 2022

A U of T Engineering research team has created a new platform that delivers multiple therapeutic proteins to the body, each at its own independently controlled rate. The innovation could help treat degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss for people over 50.

Unlike traditional drugs made of small molecules, therapeutic proteins are synthetic versions of larger biomolecules naturally present in the body. One example is the synthetic insulin used to treat diabetes. There are other proteins that can modulate the body’s own repair processes in ways that small-molecule drugs cannot.

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Professor Laurencin Publishes Breakthrough Report on Rotator Cuff Regeneration Treatment
Cato Laurencin | August 12, 2022

Professor Laurencin Publishes Breakthrough Report on Rotator Cuff Regeneration Treatment
Cato Laurencin | August 12, 2022

A new way to regenerate muscle could help repair the damaged shoulders of millions of people every year. The technique uses advanced materials to encourage muscle growth in rotator cuff muscles. Dr. Cato Laurencin and his team reported the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) August 8th issue.

Tears of the major tendons in the shoulder joint, commonly called the rotator cuff, are common injuries in adults. Advances in surgery have made ever better rotator cuff repairs possible. But failure rates with surgery can be high. Now, a team of researchers from the UConn School of Medicine led by Laurencin, a surgeon, engineer and scientist, reports that a graphene/polymer matrix embedded into shoulder muscle can prevent re-tear injuries.

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Scaling up cell imaging
Anne Carpenter | August 3, 2022

Scaling up cell imaging
Anne Carpenter | August 3, 2022

Scientists have learned a lot about human biology by looking at cells under a microscope, but they might not notice tiny differences between cells or even know what they’re looking for. Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in the laboratories of Anne Carpenter and Stuart Schreiber, first started developing cell painting 13 years ago to take cell imaging to the next level. The method, further advanced by Carpenter, now senior director of the Broad’s Imaging Platform and senior group leader Shantanu Singh, and colleagues, uses six colored dyes to stain eight different cell organelles. Machine learning models recognize subtle differences in the images—changes in cell morphology that might indicate disease or a drug or genetic perturbation—which allows researchers to predict the effects of a drug or mutation.

The Broad team has recently made strides in scaling up the method. They have spent the last several years building a consortium of drugmakers and academic institutions to create the world’s largest public cell painting database, which drug developers hope will help accelerate their search for promising drug candidates.

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Advances in Pesticide Screening Techniques
Shalini Prasad | July 29, 2022

Advances in Pesticide Screening Techniques
Shalini Prasad | July 29, 2022

Pesticides have become an integral part of the modern farming process due to their usefulness in preventing crop losses to pests, weeds and disease. With the United Nations “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” goals placing a renewed emphasis on sustainable farming technologies and environmental safety, demand is increasing for screening techniques that can detect and monitor the presence of excess pesticide residues in the environment.

Despite such demand, it is still relatively rare for pesticide testing to occur on-site during farming. For pesticide residues on crops and foodstuffs, it is most common for samples to be sent away to analytical laboratories for testing. This may give accurate results, but it is a time-consuming process that can become quite impractical for routine screening. At the other end of the scale, environmental soil and soil runoff samples are rarely tested at all.

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Controlling glaucoma: Eye drop therapy reaches posterior ocular tissues
Laura Ensign | July 22, 2022

Controlling glaucoma: Eye drop therapy reaches posterior ocular tissues
Laura Ensign | July 22, 2022

A novel eye drop under development may provide neuroprotection to the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). An added plus is that only once-weekly dosing is required, according to Laura Ensign, PhD, who headed up the research.

Ensign holds the Marcella E. Woll Professorship in Ophthalmology and is an associate professor of ophthalmology and vice chair for research at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Justin Hanes, PhD, who is the Lewis J. Ort Professor of Ophthalmology and director of the Center for Nanomedicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Donald Zack, MD, PhD, the Guerrieri Professor of Genetic Engineering and Molecular Ophthalmology and codirector of the Center for Stem Cells and Ocular Regenerative Medicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

Antiglaucoma eye drops are the mainstay of treatment for the disease, and they successfully and significantly lower the IOP. However, despite achieving a reduction of the IOP, glaucoma can continue to progress and threaten vision in many patients diagnosed with the disease. A therapy that protects the RGCs from damage was just a dream until recently. This new therapy developed by the Wilmer Eye Institute team is in the process of becoming a reality.

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Scientists find molecular clues behind acute and chronic phases of traumatic brain injury
Sarah Stabenfeldt | July 22, 2022

Scientists find molecular clues behind acute and chronic phases of traumatic brain injury
Sarah Stabenfeldt | July 22, 2022

New research led by scientists at Arizona State University has revealed some of the first detailed molecular clues associated with one of the leading causes of death and disability, a condition known as traumatic brain injury (TBI).

TBI is a growing public health concern, affecting more than 1.7 million Americans at an estimated annual cost of $76.5 billion dollars. It is a leading cause of death and disability for children and young adults in industrialized countries, and people who experience TBI are more likely to develop severe, long-term cognitive and behavioral deficits.

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How different cancer cells respond to drug-delivering nanoparticles
Paula Hammond | July 21, 2022

How different cancer cells respond to drug-delivering nanoparticles
Paula Hammond | July 21, 2022

The findings of a large-scale screen could help researchers design nanoparticles that target specific types of cancer.

Using nanoparticles to deliver cancer drugs offers a way to hit tumors with large doses of drugs while avoiding the harmful side effects that often come with chemotherapy. However, so far, only a handful of nanoparticle-based cancer drugs have been FDA-approved.

A new study from MIT and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard researchers may help to overcome some of the obstacles to the development of nanoparticle-based drugs. The team’s analysis of the interactions between 35 different types of nanoparticles and nearly 500 types of cancer cells revealed thousands of biological traits that influence whether those cells take up different types of nanoparticles.

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Suffocating from Medical Bias
Gilda Barabino & Harriet Nembhard | July 15, 2022

Suffocating from Medical Bias
Gilda Barabino & Harriet Nembhard | July 15, 2022

The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis, reeling from two serious pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. Everyone is familiar with the impact of the virus. The categorization of racism as a pandemic may seem less obvious, but when viewed through the lens of systems engineering, racism in the American health care system can be seen to contain tightly linked problems of medicine, technology, design, leadership, and ethics. The intersections are myriad, bound in racial disparities that pervade all aspects of life, including such basic functions as the ability to breathe.

For Black people and other racially minoritized groups, the health care system—which should provide equitable treatment and care—is tainted by disparate access, poor quality of care, unequal outcomes, and distrust between individuals and health care providers. The extent to which racial biases lead to health care disparities is influenced by demographics; environmental, social, and economic conditions; and policies and practices that pervade all aspects of life.

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Ameer Wins 2022 Innovation Commercialization Award
Guillermo Ameer | July 13, 2022

Ameer Wins 2022 Innovation Commercialization Award
Guillermo Ameer | July 13, 2022

The award recognizes the application of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine that benefits patients

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer was honored with the 2022 Innovation/Commercialization Award by the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society-Americas (TERMIS-AM).

The award recognizes the application of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine in the production of a product or technology that ultimately will benefit patients. The award can be presented for an existing product or for a newly developed product that has been launched in the last five years, or for a technology launched in the last five years that can facilitate commercialization of a product.

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Microparticles could be used to deliver “self-boosting” vaccines
Ana Jaklenec | July 13, 2022

Microparticles could be used to deliver “self-boosting” vaccines
Ana Jaklenec | July 13, 2022

With particles that release their payloads at different times, one injection could provide multiple vaccine doses.

Most vaccines, from measles to Covid-19, require a series of multiple shots before the recipient is considered fully vaccinated. To make that easier to achieve, MIT researchers have developed microparticles that can be tuned to deliver their payload at different time points, which could be used to create “self-boosting” vaccines.

In a new study, the researchers describe how these particles degrade over time, and how they can be tuned to release their contents at different time points. The study also offers insights into how the contents can be protected from losing their stability as they wait to be released.

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When it comes to darker skin, pulse oximeters fall short
Kimani Toussaint | July 11, 2022

When it comes to darker skin, pulse oximeters fall short
Kimani Toussaint | July 11, 2022

Over the past two years, the pulse oximeter has become a crucial tool for tracking the health of COVID-19 patients.

The small device clips onto a finger and measures the amount of oxygen in a patient’s blood. But a growing body of evidence shows the device can be inaccurate when measuring oxygen levels in people with dark skin tones.

A study published on Monday only adds to this concern.

Researchers analyzing pre-pandemic health data also find those measurements resulted in patients of color receiving less supplemental oxygen than white patients did.

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Experts Study Marine Mammals To Learn About Human Hearing
Barbara Shinn-Cunningham | June 30, 2022

Experts Study Marine Mammals To Learn About Human Hearing
Barbara Shinn-Cunningham | June 30, 2022

Many hearing loss patients have the same complaint: They have trouble following conversations in a noisy space. Carnegie Mellon University’s Barbara Shinn-Cunningham has spent her career conducting research to better understand this problem and how it affects people at cocktail parties, coffee shops and grocery stores.

Now, along with a team of researchers from six universities, Shinn-Cunningham, the director of CMU’s Neuroscience Institute (NI) and the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Auditory Neuroscience, is looking for answers in an unexpected place. The researchers will conduct noninvasive experiments on free-swimming dolphins and sea lions.

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Breast Cancer’s Spread Accelerates During Sleep
Sunitha Nagrath | June 28, 2022

Breast Cancer’s Spread Accelerates During Sleep
Sunitha Nagrath | June 28, 2022

Breast cancer metastases spread far more efficiently during sleep, according to a Swiss study.

While it has been assumed that circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are constantly shedding from growing tumors, or as a result of mechanical insults, there’s a “striking and unexpected pattern of CTC generation dynamics in both patients with breast cancer and mouse models, highlighting that most spontaneous CTC intravasation events occur during sleep,” wrote Nicola Aceto, PhD, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and colleagues.

Furthermore, CTCs are more prone to metastasize during a body’s resting phase, while those generated during a body’s active phase are not, they noted in Nature.

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Tissue model reveals key players in liver regeneration
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 27, 2022

Tissue model reveals key players in liver regeneration
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 27, 2022

By tracing the steps of liver regrowth, MIT engineers hope to harness the liver’s regenerative abilities to help treat chronic disease.

The human liver has amazing regeneration capabilities: Even if up to 70 percent of it is removed, the remaining tissue can regrow a full-sized liver within months.

Taking advantage of this regenerative capability could give doctors many more options for treating chronic liver disease. MIT engineers have now taken a step toward that goal, by creating a new liver tissue model that allows them to trace the steps involved in liver regeneration more precisely than has been possible before.

The new model can yield information that couldn’t be gleaned from studies of mice or other animals, whose biology is not identical to that of humans, says Sangeeta Bhatia, the leader of the research team.

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Nanomaterials That Provide Imaging While Delivering Medication
Kytai Nguyen | June 24, 2022

Nanomaterials That Provide Imaging While Delivering Medication
Kytai Nguyen | June 24, 2022

A University of Texas at Arlington bioengineer is leading a project that will develop biodegradable nanomaterials that will take pictures and deliver medicine to combat peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Kytai Nguyen, a UT Arlington bioengineering professor, is the principal investigator in the four-year, $2.1 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. She’s collaborating with Jian Yang, a Penn State University bioengineering professor and former UTA faculty member, and Ralph Mason, a professor of radiology at UT Southwestern.

“What’s important in this project is that the technology carries fluorescent and ultrasound imaging capabilities, which will provide patients and doctors with more detailed information,” Nguyen said. “It also gives patients more targeted medicine, making it more efficient.

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Dr. Cato T. Laurencin Elected to the European Academy of Sciences
Cato Laurencin | June 16, 2022

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin Elected to the European Academy of Sciences
Cato Laurencin | June 16, 2022

The prestigious European Academy of Sciences has recognized UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin for his visionary and pioneering work in the field of regenerative engineering

In recognition of his pioneering work in the field of regenerative engineering, UConn professor Dr. Cato T. Laurencin has been elected to the prestigious European Academy of Sciences (EURASC).

“It’s very gratifying that a number of different parts of the world consider the work we are doing to be breakthrough,” Laurencin says. “The world is embracing the concepts behind regenerative engineering and has come to realize the importance of this field.”

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Lydia Contreras Named New Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity
Lydia Contreras | June 15, 2022

Lydia Contreras Named New Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity
Lydia Contreras | June 15, 2022

The University of Texas at Austin has named Lydia Contreras as its new vice provost for faculty diversity, equity and inclusivity, effective immediately. Contreras, who currently holds the Jim and Barbara Miller Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Chemical Engineering, has served for the past two years as the managing director of diversity in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

She succeeds Edmund T. Gordon, who will serve as the inaugural executive director for the university’s Contextualization and Commemoration Initiative.

Contreras’ primary responsibility will be to lead the advancement of the Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in alignment with UT’s new plan for an equitable and inclusive campus, You Belong Here.

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Nanoparticle sensor can distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 13, 2022

Nanoparticle sensor can distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 13, 2022

Many different types of bacteria and viruses can cause pneumonia, but there is no easy way to determine which microbe is causing a particular patient’s illness. This uncertainty makes it harder for doctors to choose effective treatments because the antibiotics commonly used to treat bacterial pneumonia won’t help patients with viral pneumonia. In addition, limiting the use of antibiotics is an important step toward curbing antibiotic resistance.

MIT researchers have now designed a sensor that can distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia infections, which they hope will help doctors to choose the appropriate treatment.

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Engineers develop nanoparticles that cross the blood-brain barrier
Paula Hammond | June 1, 2022

Engineers develop nanoparticles that cross the blood-brain barrier
Paula Hammond | June 1, 2022

There are currently few good treatment options for glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer with a high fatality rate. One reason that the disease is so difficult to treat is that most chemotherapy drugs can’t penetrate the blood vessels that surround the brain.

A team of MIT researchers is now developing drug-carrying nanoparticles that appear to get into the brain more efficiently than drugs given on their own. Using a human tissue model they designed, which accurately replicates the blood-brain barrier, the researchers showed that the particles could get into tumors and kill glioblastoma cells.

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Western Engineering researcher and alumnus honoured with Ontario Professional Engineers Award
Kibret Mequanint | May 24, 2022

Western Engineering researcher and alumnus honoured with Ontario Professional Engineers Award
Kibret Mequanint | May 24, 2022

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) and Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) recently announced its 2022 Ontario Professional Engineers Awards (OPEA) recipients, recognizing industry innovators and business leaders for their excellence and achievement in engineering.

Western Engineering researcher, Kibret Mequanint, a professor in the department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering was awarded the Engineering Medal for Research and Development for developing applications that extend engineering or natural sciences. Alumnus and president of Neegan Burnside Ltd., Cory Jones, P.Eng., BESc’97, earned the Engineering Excellence Medal, recognizing overall excellence in the practice of engineering.

Both recipients will be honoured at the OPEA’s Award Gala on November 18, 2022.

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New Western innovation gels engineering with medicine
Kibret Mequanint | May 20, 2022

New Western innovation gels engineering with medicine
Kibret Mequanint | May 20, 2022

Game-changing ‘bio-glue’ could mean end to surgical sutures, staples

Western biomaterials expert Kibret Mequanint – in partnership with Malcolm Xing from University of Manitoba – has developed the first-ever hydrophobic (water-hating) fluid, which displaces body fluids surrounding an injury allowing for near-instantaneous gelling, sealing and healing of injured tissue.

“Tissue adhesives that can perform in the presence of blood, water and other proteins in the body are the holy grail for instant wound closure and hemostasis, especially when time is critical in rescue operations and emergency responses,” said Mequanint, a Western chemical and biochemical engineering professor.

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Ameer Wins 2022 Bioactive Materials Lifetime Achievement Award
Guillermo Ameer | May 16, 2022

Ameer Wins 2022 Bioactive Materials Lifetime Achievement Award
Guillermo Ameer | May 16, 2022

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer has been named the 2022 Bioactive Materials Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the Bioactive Materials academic journal.

Established in 2021, the annual Bioactive Materials Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes excellence in research and development in the field of bioactive materials. The award is presented to a person judged to have demonstrated excellence and leadership in bioactive materials, including basic science and translation to practice.

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Study estimates effectiveness of 2-dose and 3-dose mRNA vaccination against Omicron
Delphine Dean | May 12, 2022

Study estimates effectiveness of 2-dose and 3-dose mRNA vaccination against Omicron
Delphine Dean | May 12, 2022

In a recent study posted to the medRxiv* preprint server, researchers estimated the efficacy of two-dose and three-dose regimens of two messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines: Moderna’s mRNA-1273 and Pfizer-BioNTech’s BNT162b2 against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused due to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant.

Omicron (B.1.1529) has demonstrated higher infectivity compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants. In addition, studies have reported lower Omicron neutralization by the existing COVID-19 vaccines. Despite this, it is not clear just how much protection the COVID-19 vaccine confers against Omicron infections.

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Expanding the Oval and Opening Doors: The Inauguration of Olin President Gilda Barabino
Gilda Barabino | May 9, 2022

Expanding the Oval and Opening Doors: The Inauguration of Olin President Gilda Barabino
Gilda Barabino | May 9, 2022

On May 5, 2022, Olin College celebrated a milestone event two years in the making—the long-awaited and much celebrated inauguration of its second president and first Black woman president, Dr. Gilda A. Barabino.

Joined by delegates, trustees, students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents and guests from far and wide, the Olin Community gathered on a perfect New England spring day to hear personal stories and words of wisdom from honored guests, and to witness to President Barabino’s formal investiture ceremony.

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New Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Education
Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert | May 6, 2022

New Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Education
Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert | May 6, 2022

On July 1, Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert, PhD, will join UW Medicine as the new vice dean for Research and Graduate Education. She succeeds John Slattery, PhD, who is retiring after holding the position since 2005. Her husband, Don Elbert, PhD, will also join UW Medicine as an associate professor in the Department of Neurology.

“I am delighted that Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert has accepted the position of vice dean for Research and Graduate Education,” says Paul Ramsey, MD, CEO of UW Medicine. “She was selected after a national search for her outstanding skills in leading interdisciplinary and translational research and supporting the career development of faculty, staff, trainees and students. I also want to thank John Slattery for his long service and great success in building an internationally renowned research community at UW Medicine to advance biomedical science.”

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Alyssa Panitch Chosen as Chair of Coulter BME
Alyssa Panitch | May 3, 2022

Alyssa Panitch Chosen as Chair of Coulter BME
Alyssa Panitch | May 3, 2022

Alyssa Panitch, Edward Teller Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, has been selected as the new chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Panitch currently serves as executive associate dean of academic personnel and planning in the College of Engineering at UC Davis. The position oversees the merit and promotion process and all matters related to faculty and academic affairs, including faculty and academic personnel hiring.

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Sweat Sensor Makes Big Strides in Detecting Infection Indicators
Shalini Prasad | April 29, 2022

Sweat Sensor Makes Big Strides in Detecting Infection Indicators
Shalini Prasad | April 29, 2022

University of Texas at Dallas bioengineers in collaboration with EnLiSense LLC have designed a wearable sensor that can detect two key biomarkers of infection in human sweat, a significant step toward making it possible for users to receive early warnings of infections such as COVID-19 and influenza.

The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science researchers’ study, published online March 3 in Advanced Materials Technologies, demonstrates that the sweat sensor can identify the biomarkers interferon-gamma-inducible protein (IP-10) and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Elevated levels of IP-10 and TRAIL indicate what is known as a cytokine storm, a surge of pro-inflammatory immune proteins generated in the most serious infections.

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Raphael C. Lee elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022
Raphael Lee | April 29, 2022

Raphael C. Lee elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022
Raphael Lee | April 29, 2022

Seven members of the University of Chicago faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

They include Profs. Christopher R. Berry, Raphael C. Lee, Peter B. Littlewood, Richard Neer, Sianne Ngai and Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, and Prof. Emerita Wadad Kadi.

These scholars have made breakthroughs in fields ranging from condensed matter physics to biomedical engineering and the aesthetics of capitalism. They join the 2022 class of 261 individuals, announced April 28, which includes artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

In addition to Rossi-Hansberg, AM’98, PhD’02, 13 UChicago alumni were also elected as part of this year’s class.

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Plug-and-play organ-on-a-chip can be customized to the patient
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | April 27, 2022

Plug-and-play organ-on-a-chip can be customized to the patient
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | April 27, 2022

Engineered tissues have become a critical component for modeling diseases and testing the efficacy and safety of drugs in a human context. A major challenge for researchers has been how to model body functions and systemic diseases with multiple engineered tissues that can physiologically communicate — just like they do in the body. However, it is essential to provide each engineered tissue with its own environment so that the specific tissue phenotypes can be maintained for weeks to months, as required for biological and biomedical studies. Making the challenge even more complex is the necessity of linking the tissue modules together to facilitate their physiological communication, which is required for modeling conditions that involve more than one organ system, without sacrificing the individual engineered tissue environments.

Novel plug-and-play multi-organ chip, customized to the patient

Up to now, no one has been able to meet both conditions. Today, a team of researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Irving Medical Center reports that they have developed a model of human physiology in the form of a multi-organ chip consisting of engineered human heart, bone, liver, and skin that are linked by vascular flow with circulating immune cells, to allow recapitulation of interdependent organ functions. The researchers have essentially created a plug-and-play multi-organ chip, which is the size of a microscope slide, that can be customized to the patient. Because disease progression and responses to treatment vary greatly from one person to another, such a chip will eventually enable personalized optimization of therapy for each patient. The study is the cover story of the April 2022 issue of Nature Biomedical Engineering.

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Can a blood test help diagnose skin cancer?
Sunitha Nagrath | April 20, 2022

Can a blood test help diagnose skin cancer?
Sunitha Nagrath | April 20, 2022

New research in Advanced NanoBiomed Research indicates that testing an individual’s blood can reveal the presence of circulating melanoma cells. Such tests may allow patients to forego invasive skin biopsies to determine whether they have skin cancer.

The test uses what’s called the Melanoma-specific OncoBean platform conjugated with melanoma-specific antibodies. Investigators at the University of Michigan showed that the test can be used not only to diagnose melanoma but also to evaluate whether all cancer cells have been successfully removed after skin cancer surgery.

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Tumors partially destroyed with sound don’t come back
Zhen Xu | April 18, 2022

Tumors partially destroyed with sound don’t come back
Zhen Xu | April 18, 2022

Noninvasive sound technology developed at the University of Michigan breaks down liver tumors in rats, kills cancer cells and spurs the immune system to prevent further spread—an advance that could lead to improved cancer outcomes in humans.

By destroying only 50% to 75% of liver tumor volume, the rats’ immune systems were able to clear away the rest, with no evidence of recurrence or metastases in more than 80% of animals.

“Even if we don’t target the entire tumor, we can still cause the tumor to regress and also reduce the risk of future metastasis,” said Zhen Xu, professor of biomedical engineering at U-M and corresponding author of the study in Cancers.

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Innovative Therapy that “Tricks” and Destroys Cancer Cells Advances to Clinical Trial
Kathleen Schmainda | April 8, 2022

Innovative Therapy that “Tricks” and Destroys Cancer Cells Advances to Clinical Trial
Kathleen Schmainda | April 8, 2022

A novel therapy studied at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Cancer Center has led to a clinical trial for the treatment of glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer, yet the most common primary brain tumor in adults.

Despite decades of research globally, only incremental gains have been made to extend or enhance quality of life for patients with glioblastoma. Treatment options are limited and typically include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Now, a new clinical study open at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin will evaluate an alternative treatment that is administered orally.

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Study reveals the dynamics of human milk production
Bonnie Berger | April 5, 2022

Study reveals the dynamics of human milk production
Bonnie Berger | April 5, 2022

For the first time, MIT researchers have performed a large-scale, high-resolution study of the cells in breast milk, allowing them to track how these cells change over time in nursing mothers.

By analyzing human breast milk produced between three days and nearly two years after childbirth, the researchers were able to identify a variety of changes in gene expression in mammary gland cells. Some of these changes were linked to factors such as hormone levels, illness of the mother or baby, the mother starting birth control, and the baby starting daycare.

“We were able to take this really long view of lactation that other studies haven’t really done, and we showed that milk does change over the entire course of lactation, even after years of milk production,” says Brittany Goods, a former MIT postdoc who is now an assistant professor of engineering at Dartmouth College, and one of the senior authors of the study.

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Human Factors Drive Radiology Error Rates
Elizabeth Krupinski | March 25, 2022

Human Factors Drive Radiology Error Rates
Elizabeth Krupinski | March 25, 2022

In 1949, radiologist Leo Henry Garland, MD, former RSNA president, published his first of several articles on errors in radiology. Among his findings, Dr. Garland discovered that experienced radiologists would miss important findings in approximately 30% of chest radiographs positive for radiologic evidence of disease. The ensuing decades saw the development of contrast agents, the introduction of CT and MRI, and other major advances.

But despite these technological advances, along with vast gains in knowledge about human biology and disease processes, error rates in radiology have remained largely unchanged from Dr. Garland’s time, according to Michael A. Bruno, MD, vice chair for quality and safety, and chief of emergency radiology at Penn State University.

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Injectable electrodes could prevent deadly heart arrhythmias
Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez | March 25, 2022

Injectable electrodes could prevent deadly heart arrhythmias
Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez | March 25, 2022

Heart attacks and strokes triggered by electrical misfiring in the heart are among the biggest killers on the planet. Now, researchers have created a “liquid wire” that, when injected into pig hearts, can guide the organs to a normal rhythm.

The results, presented here this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, are “impressive and really cool,” says Thomas Mansell, a biomolecular engineer at Iowa State University who was not involved with the work. “It’s an exciting study,” agrees Usha Tedrow, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Harvard Medical School, also not involved in the work. If the findings translate to people, she says, it could save thousands of lives each year.

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In animal study, implant churns out CAR-T cells to combat cancer
Frances Ligler | March 24, 2022

In animal study, implant churns out CAR-T cells to combat cancer
Frances Ligler | March 24, 2022

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed an implantable biotechnology that produces and releases CAR-T cells for attacking cancerous tumors. In a proof-of-concept study involving lymphoma in mice, the researchers found that treatment with the implants was faster and more effective than conventional CAR-T cell cancer treatment.

T cells are part of the immune system, tasked with identifying and destroying cells in the body that have become infected with an invading pathogen. CAR-T cells are T cells that have been engineered to identify cancer cells and destroy them. CAR-T cells are already in clinical use for treating lymphomas, and there are many clinical trials under way focused on using CAR-T cell treatments against other forms of cancer.

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Nanotechnology helps soybean growers and the environment
Cristina Sabliov | March 4, 2022

Nanotechnology helps soybean growers and the environment
Cristina Sabliov | March 4, 2022

Louisiana farmers rely on herbicides, pesticides and fungicides to protect their crops against weeds, insects and diseases. Even though most farmers try to be good stewards of the environment, some of those chemicals inevitably end up in waterways, or elsewhere, instead of benefiting the plants. To address this problem, LSU Professor Cristina Sabliov is working on technologies for more targeted delivery of agrochemicals to crops, to prevent waste—a cost issue for farmers—while protecting plants, yields and the environment.

Sabliov develops nanoparticles that are smaller than the eye can see—about a thousand times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. These tiny delivery systems can attach to specific parts of a plant, such as the root or the leaves, and deposit a small but significant payload to be released either immediately or over time.

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‘Tuning’ gel-forming protein molecules to boost their versatility for biomedical applications
Jin Kim Montclare | February 16, 2022

‘Tuning’ gel-forming protein molecules to boost their versatility for biomedical applications
Jin Kim Montclare | February 16, 2022

Self-assembling protein molecules are versatile materials for medical applications because their ability to form gels can be accelerated or retarded by variations in pH, as well as changes in temperature or ionic strength. These biomaterials, responsive to physiological conditions, can therefore be easily adapted for applications where their effectiveness depends on gelation kinetics, such as how quickly and under what stimuli they form gels.

Understanding gelation kinetics for protein hydrogels is important for assessing their utility in medical applications and in the future of biomaterials. For example, fast-gelling systems are clinically useful for in situ gelation for the delivery of drugs or genetic material to target cells or anatomic regions, while slower-gelling systems are applicable for tissue engineering because of their ability to maintain cell viability and their propensity to maintain homogeneity.

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Size matters in particle treatments of traumatic injuries
Paula Hammond | February 16, 2022

Size matters in particle treatments of traumatic injuries
Paula Hammond | February 16, 2022

Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death in the U.S. among people 45 and under, and such injuries account for more than 3 million deaths per year worldwide. To reduce the death toll of such injuries, many researchers are working on injectable nanoparticles that can home in on the site of an internal injury and attract cells that help to stop the bleeding until the patient can reach a hospital for further treatment.

While some of these particles have shown promise in animal studies, none have been tested in human patients yet. One reason for that is a lack of information regarding the mechanism of action and potential safety of such particles. To shed more light on those factors, MIT chemical engineers have now performed the first systematic study of how different-sized polymer nanoparticles circulate in the body and interact with platelets, the cells that promote blood clotting.

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Nola Hylton, PhD Inducted into the National Academy of Engineering
Nola Hylton | February 14, 2022

Nola Hylton, PhD Inducted into the National Academy of Engineering
Nola Hylton | February 14, 2022

The UC San Francisco Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging is pleased to announce that Nola Hylton, PhD has been inducted into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Class of 2022. Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.

Dr. Hylton is a professor in residence at UCSF Radiology and director of the Breast Imaging Research Group. Dr. Hylton’s impressive accomplishments include being an internationally known leader and recognized authority in the field of breast MRI for over 20 years. Election of new NAE members is the culmination of a yearlong process. A ballot is set in December with the final vote for membership during January. Dr. Hylton was elected to the NAE based on the following.

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Rena Bizios elected to National Academy of Engineering
Rena Bizios | February 14, 2022

Rena Bizios elected to National Academy of Engineering
Rena Bizios | February 14, 2022

Rena Bizios, Lutcher Brown Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as part of the 2022 induction class.

Election to the NAE is one of the foremost professional accomplishments in the field and is reserved for those who demonstrate significant contributions to the engineering literature and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education”. Professor Bizios was recognized for her “contributions to the theory and applications of cellular tissue engineering, cell/biomaterial interactions, and surface modification biomaterials.

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Research advances technology of AI assistance for anesthesiologists
Emery Brown | February 14, 2022

Research advances technology of AI assistance for anesthesiologists
Emery Brown | February 14, 2022

A new study by researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) suggests the day may be approaching when advanced artificial intelligence systems could assist anesthesiologists in the operating room.

In a special edition of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, the team of neuroscientists, engineers, and physicians demonstrated a machine learning algorithm for continuously automating dosing of the anesthetic drug propofol. Using an application of deep reinforcement learning, in which the software’s neural networks simultaneously learned how its dosing choices maintain unconsciousness and how to critique the efficacy of its own actions, the algorithm outperformed more traditional software in sophisticated, physiology-based simulations of patients. It also closely matched the performance of real anesthesiologists when showing what it would do to maintain unconsciousness given recorded data from nine real surgeries.

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New tool harnesses immune cells from tumors to effectively fight cancer
Shana Kelley | January 28, 2022

New tool harnesses immune cells from tumors to effectively fight cancer
Shana Kelley | January 28, 2022

Northwestern scientists have developed a new tool to harness immune cells from tumors to fight cancer rapidly and effectively, published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Their findings showed a dramatic shrinkage in tumors in mice compared to traditional cell therapy methods. With a novel microfluidic device that could be 3D printed, the team multiplied, sorted through and harvested hundreds of millions of cells, recovering 400 percent more of the tumor-eating cells than current approaches.

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Guillermo Ameer Awarded the Technology Innovation and Development Award
Guillermo Ameer | January 26, 2022

Guillermo Ameer Awarded the Technology Innovation and Development Award
Guillermo Ameer | January 26, 2022

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer, Daniel Hale Williams Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine, has been given the the 2022 Technology Innovation and Development Award by the Society For Biomaterials.

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Achilefu recruited to lead new Department of Biomedical Engineering
Sam Achilefu | January 26, 2022

Achilefu recruited to lead new Department of Biomedical Engineering
Sam Achilefu | January 26, 2022

Molecular imaging expert Samuel Achilefu, Ph.D., will join UT Southwestern Feb. 1 as the first Chair of a new Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Achilefu was recruited to UTSW from the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

He worked at Washington University for more than 20 years, most recently as a Professor of Radiology, Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics. He also served as Chief of the Optical Radiology Laboratory, Vice Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, and co-leader of the Oncologic Imaging Program of the Siteman Cancer Center. Recently, Dr. Achilefu was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

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Researchers pilot ‘itty bitty’ device for earlier ovarian cancer detection
Jennifer Barton | January 18, 2022

Researchers pilot ‘itty bitty’ device for earlier ovarian cancer detection
Jennifer Barton | January 18, 2022

Due to a lack of effective screening and diagnostic tools, more than three-fourths of ovarian cancer cases are not found until the cancer is in an advanced stage. As a result, fewer than half of all women with ovarian cancer survive more than five years after diagnosis.

Jennifer Barton, director of the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute and Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering, has spent years developing a device small enough to image the fallopian tubes – narrow ducts connecting the uterus to the ovaries – and search for signs of early-stage cancer. Dr. John Heusinkveld has now used the new imaging device in study participants for the first time, as part of a pilot human trial.

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Nanotherapy offers new hope for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes
Guillermo Ameer | January 17, 2022

Nanotherapy offers new hope for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes
Guillermo Ameer | January 17, 2022

Individuals living with Type 1 diabetes must carefully follow prescribed insulin regimens every day, receiving injections of the hormone via syringe, insulin pump or some other device. And without viable long-term treatments, this course of treatment is a lifelong sentence.

Pancreatic islets control insulin production when blood sugar levels change, and in Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys such insulin-producing cells. Islet transplantation has emerged over the past few decades as a potential cure for Type 1 diabetes. With healthy transplanted islets, Type 1 diabetes patients may no longer need insulin injections, but transplantation efforts have faced setbacks as the immune system continues to eventually reject new islets. Current immunosuppressive drugs offer inadequate protection for transplanted cells and tissues and are plagued by undesirable side effects.

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Accomplished biomedical engineer, academic leader named Brown School of Engineering dean
Tejal Desai | January 12, 2022

Accomplished biomedical engineer, academic leader named Brown School of Engineering dean
Tejal Desai | January 12, 2022

Tejal Desai, an accomplished biomedical engineer and academic leader who earned a bachelor’s degree with Brown’s Class of 1994, has been appointed the next dean of Brown University’s School of Engineering.

An expert in applying micro- and nanoscale technologies to create new ways to deliver medicine to targeted sites in the human body, Desai is a professor and a former longtime chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California San Francisco, and inaugural director of UCSF’s Health Innovations Via Engineering (HIVE) initiative.

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Ultrashort-pulse lasers kill bacterial superbugs, spores
Samuel Achilefu | November 23, 2021

Ultrashort-pulse lasers kill bacterial superbugs, spores
Samuel Achilefu | November 23, 2021

Life-threatening bacteria are becoming ever more resistant to antibiotics, making the search for alternatives to antibiotics an increasingly urgent challenge. For certain applications, one alternative may be a special type of laser.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that lasers that emit ultrashort pulses of light can kill multidrug-resistant bacteria and hardy bacterial spores. The findings, available online in the Journal of Biophotonics, open up the possibility of using such lasers to destroy bacteria that are hard to kill by other means. The researchers previously have shown that such lasers don’t damage human cells, making it possible to envision using the lasers to sterilize wounds or disinfect blood products.

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A Stunning 3D Map Of Blood Vessels And Cells In A Mouse Skull Could Help Scientists Make New Bones
Warren Grayson | November 19, 2021

A Stunning 3D Map Of Blood Vessels And Cells In A Mouse Skull Could Help Scientists Make New Bones
Warren Grayson | November 19, 2021

Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists have used glowing chemicals and other techniques to create a 3D map of the blood vessels and self-renewing “stem” cells that line and penetrate a mouse skull. The map provides precise locations of blood vessels and stem cells that scientists could eventually use to repair wounds and generate new bone and tissue in the skull.

“We need to see what’s happening inside the skull, including the relative locations of blood vessels and cells and how their organization changes during injury and over time,” says Warren Grayson, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Laboratory for Craniofacial and Orthopaedic Tissue Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His lab focuses on developing biomaterials and transplanting stem cells into the skull to re-create missing bone tissue.

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New imaging technology could buy time for pancreatic cancer patients
Marvin Doyley | November 18, 2021

New imaging technology could buy time for pancreatic cancer patients
Marvin Doyley | November 18, 2021

The insidiousness of pancreatic cancer is how it develops without showing any definitive symptoms. In most cases, by the time it is diagnosed, it is beyond cure.

And yet, for 10 to 20 percent of patients, pancreatic cancer is caught soon enough, before it has metastasized. This provides surgeons a narrow window of time to try to treat the tumors, shrinking them enough to safely remove them.

University of Rochester engineers, imaging scientists, surgeons, and immunologists are working together on a novel imaging technology to help surgeons make the most of that narrow time frame before the cancer spreads.

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Sylvia Wilson Thomas named interim VP of Research & Innovation
Sylvia Wilson Thomas | November 17, 2021

Sylvia Wilson Thomas named interim VP of Research & Innovation
Sylvia Wilson Thomas | November 17, 2021

USF President Rhea Law has named College of Engineering Professor Sylvia Wilson Thomas, a pioneering researcher whose national leadership and advocacy is opening the field of engineering to historically underrepresented students, as interim vice president for USF Research & Innovation.

In her new duties, Dr. Thomas will lead the division of the university responsible for managing research proposals, grants and contracts, as well as USF’s thriving innovation enterprise, which consists of the Technology Transfer Office, the USF Research Park and the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator. Already a member of the USF Research Foundation Board, Dr. Thomas will now serve as the foundation’s president and CEO.

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Headband device suitable for use at home with young ADHD patients
Audrey Bowden | November 16, 2021

Headband device suitable for use at home with young ADHD patients
Audrey Bowden | November 16, 2021

Vanderbilt biomedical engineering professor has developed a prototype headband to measure brain activity that could have widespread application in studying and ultimately treating ADHD and other neurological disorders.

The device is lightweight, portable, and inexpensive to construct. Prototype components cost less than $250, compared to costs exceeding $10,000 for commercial systems.

Audrey Bowden, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Hadi Hosseini, a colleague at Stanford University, set out to develop a simple device that children and teens diagnosed with attention deficit disorders could wear at home. Their initial prototype is a single-channel functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) headband. Functional neuroimaging is a general term for technologies that spatially map brain activity over time.

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New Synthetic Cancer Immunotherapy Effective in Mouse Study
Jennifer Cochran | November 12, 2021

New Synthetic Cancer Immunotherapy Effective in Mouse Study
Jennifer Cochran | November 12, 2021

Stanford researchers have developed a new synthetic molecule, called PIP-CpG, that combines a tumor-targeting agent with a molecule that triggers immune activation. This treatment, can be administered intravenously and can make its way to multiple tumor sites, where it recruits immune cells against cancer.

Three doses of this new immunotherapy prolonged the survival of six of nine laboratory mice with an aggressive triple negative breast cancer. Of the six, three appeared cured of their cancer over the duration of the months long study. A single dose of this molecule induced complete tumor regression in five of ten mice. The synthetic molecule showed similar results in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer.

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New chair of UW Department of Bioengineering named
Princess Imoukhuede | November 2, 2021

New chair of UW Department of Bioengineering named
Princess Imoukhuede | November 2, 2021

Princess Imoukhuede, a leader in systems biology research, engineering education, and academic diversity initiatives, has been named the new chair of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. The department is located in both the UW College of Engineering and the UW School of Medicine. Her appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2022. She will hold the Hunter and Dorothy Simpson Endowed Chair and Professorship. Imoukhuede (pronounced I-muh-KWU-e-de) is currently an associate professor of bioengineering and director of diversity initiatives in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Seven AIMBE Fellows Elected to National Academy of Medicine
Sam Achilefu et al. | October 18, 2021

Seven AIMBE Fellows Elected to National Academy of Medicine
Sam Achilefu et al. | October 18, 2021

AIMBE congratulates the following Fellows that have been recognized as the newest members of the National Academy of Medicine. To date, 101 of AIMBE Fellows have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. 2021 newly-elected NAM members from AIMBE are:

  • Samuel Achilefu, Ph.D. 
  • Guillermo Ameer, Sc.D.
  • Yuman Fong, MD
  • Andres J. Garcia, Ph.D. 
  • Linda G. Griffith, Ph.D. 
  • Elisa E. Konofagou, Ph.D. 
  • Carla M. Pugh, MD, Ph.D., FACS 

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Prototype headband device developed for home use with young ADHD patients
Audrey Bowden | October 18, 2021

Prototype headband device developed for home use with young ADHD patients
Audrey Bowden | October 18, 2021

A Vanderbilt biomedical engineering professor has developed a prototype headband to measure brain activity that could have widespread application in studying and ultimately treating ADHD and other neurological disorders.

The device is lightweight, portable, and inexpensive to construct. Prototype components cost less than $250, compared to costs exceeding $10,000 for commercial systems.

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Ranu Jung to Lead Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research
Ranu Jung | October 13, 2021

Ranu Jung to Lead Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research
Ranu Jung | October 13, 2021

Ranu Jung has been named the founding executive director of the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I³R). She will begin in December.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jung to the University of Arkansas,” said Charles Robinson, interim chancellor. “The Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research will propel the University of Arkansas as a global leader in discovery and applied innovation, and Dr. Jung is the ideal leader to help take us there. She is a world-renowned researcher and visionary.”

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Newly developed gel helps improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy in glioblastoma
Frances Ligler | October 9, 2021

Newly developed gel helps improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy in glioblastoma
Frances Ligler | October 9, 2021

Pairing a newly developed gel with immunotherapy that was delivered to post-surgical mouse brains with glioblastoma, a highly malignant and deadly cancer, improved the immunotherapy’s effectiveness, report researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and colleagues. The findings appeared on Oct. 6, 2021, in Science Advances.

The researchers used CAR-T cell (chimeric antigen receptor-T cell) immunotherapy, which involves harvesting immune-system T cells from a patient and genetically re-engineering them in the lab to recognize targets on the surface of cancer cells. In this mouse study, the CAR-T cells and gel were placed to fill in the area where a glioblastoma tumor had just been surgically removed. Previous studies have shown that administering T cells alone have produced limited benefit.

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Team to create framework for evaluating AI-based medical imaging
Kyle Myers | October 8, 2021

Team to create framework for evaluating AI-based medical imaging
Kyle Myers | October 8, 2021

Artificial intelligence (AI) is showing promise in multiple medical imaging applications. Yet rigorous evaluation of these methods is important before they are introduced into clinical practice.

A multi-institutional and multiagency team led by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis is outlining a framework for objective task-based evaluation of AI-based methods and outlining the key role that physicians play in these evaluations. They also are providing techniques to conduct such evaluations, particularly in positron emission tomography (PET).

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Bio-Inspired Autonomous Materials
Megan Valentine | October 5, 2021

Bio-Inspired Autonomous Materials
Megan Valentine | October 5, 2021

Megan Valentine, a professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the California NanoSystems Institute at UC Santa Barbara, has been awarded a $1.8 million collaborative grant by the National Science Foundation to design and create next-generation materials inspired and empowered by biological cells. Valentine will be working alongside a team of physicists, biologists and engineers, four of whom are women.

Led by Rae Robertson-Anderson, a professor of physics and biophysics at the University of San Diego, the team also includes Jennifer Ross at Syracuse University, Moumita Das at Rochester Institute of Technology, and Michael Rust at the University of Chicago.

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Northwestern-invented biomaterial technology moves from lab bench to the orthopaedic market
Guillermo Ameer | September 22, 2021

Northwestern-invented biomaterial technology moves from lab bench to the orthopaedic market
Guillermo Ameer | September 22, 2021

Northwestern biomedical engineer Guillermo A. Ameer has achieved a rare, major accomplishment. A medical product based on novel biomaterials pioneered in his laboratory will be widely available for use in musculoskeletal surgeries to directly benefit patients.

The biomaterial technology, called CITREGEN™, developed by the start-up company Acuitive Technologies, Inc., is featured in Stryker Corporation’s CITRELOCK™, an innovative device that will debut this week at the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society’s annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C. The CITRELOCK™ Tendon Fixation Device System is used to attach soft tissue grafts to bone in reconstruction surgeries and provides surgeons a differentiated design due to Ameer’s biomaterial. 

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Institute Professor Paula Hammond named to White House science council
Paula Hammond | September 22, 2021

Institute Professor Paula Hammond named to White House science council
Paula Hammond | September 22, 2021

Paula Hammond, an MIT Institute Professor and head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, has been chosen to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the White House announced today.

The council advises the president on matters involving science, technology, education, and innovation policy. It also provides the White House with scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the U.S. economy, U.S. workers, and national security.

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Statistical model defines ketamine anesthesia’s effects on the brain
Emery Brown | September 21, 2021

Statistical model defines ketamine anesthesia’s effects on the brain
Emery Brown | September 21, 2021

Neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital develop a statistical framework that describes brain-state changes patients experience under ketamine-induced anesthesia.

By developing the first statistical model to finely characterize how ketamine anesthesia affects the brain, a team of researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and Massachusetts General Hospital have laid new groundwork for three advances: understanding how ketamine induces anesthesia; monitoring the unconsciousness of patients in surgery; and applying a new method of analyzing brain activity.

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Plants as mRNA Factories for Edible Vaccines
Nicole Steinmetz | September 17, 2021

Plants as mRNA Factories for Edible Vaccines
Nicole Steinmetz | September 17, 2021

University of California-Riverside (UCR) researchers say they are studying whether they can turn edible plants like lettuce into mRNA vaccine factories.

One of the challenges with this new technology is that it must be kept cold to maintain stability during transport and storage. If this new project is successful, plant-based mRNA vaccines, which can be eaten, could overcome this challenge with the ability to be stored at room temperature.

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Researchers design sensors to rapidly detect plant hormones
Mary Chan-Park | September 13, 2021

Researchers design sensors to rapidly detect plant hormones
Mary Chan-Park | September 13, 2021

Researchers from the Disruptive and Sustainable Technologies for Agricultural Precision (DiSTAP) interdisciplinary research group of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore, and their local collaborators from Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have developed the first-ever nanosensor to enable rapid testing of synthetic auxin plant hormones. The novel nanosensors are safer and less tedious than existing techniques for testing plants’ response to compounds such as herbicide, and can be transformative in improving agricultural production and our understanding of plant growth.

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A fountain of youth for aging muscles
Helen Blau | September 2, 2021

A fountain of youth for aging muscles
Helen Blau | September 2, 2021

Regenerative medicine could hold the keys to rejuvenating older muscles, and research supporting that will be featured at the Mayo Clinic Symposium on Regenerative Medicine and Surgery. Preclinical research by Helen Blau, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, discovered a protein that triggers muscle loss and a way to block it to restore youthful muscle strength. Dr. Blau, director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine, will present her research in a virtual keynote speech.

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Building a better chemical factory – out of microbes
Kristala Prather | August 24, 2021

Building a better chemical factory – out of microbes
Kristala Prather | August 24, 2021

Metabolic engineers have a problem: cells are selfish. The scientists want to use microbes to produce chemical compounds for industrial applications. The microbes prefer to concentrate on their own growth.

Kristala L. Jones Prather ’94 has devised a tool that satisfies both conflicting objectives. Her metabolite valve acts like a train switch: it senses when a cell culture has reproduced enough to sustain itself and then redirects metabolic flux—the movement of molecules in a pathway—down the track that synthesizes the desired compound. The results: greater yield of the product and sufficient cell growth to keep the culture healthy and productive.

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Revving Up to Advance Battery Research for Electric Vehicles
Esther Takeuchi | August 24, 2021

Revving Up to Advance Battery Research for Electric Vehicles
Esther Takeuchi | August 24, 2021

Stony Brook University’s Institute for Electrochemically Stored Energy, through the Research Foundation of SUNY, has received a major grant from the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) to further develop battery technology that could potentially be used in the creation of more efficient electric vehicles (EVs). The research, led by Esther Takeuchi, PhD, is funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicles Technology Office, and is part of a national research initiative to accelerate advancements in zero-emissions vehicles. The grant totals $2,285,813, effective October 1, 2021, and runs through December 2024.

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Locascio Nominated to Return to NIST as Director
Laurie Locascio | July 22, 2021

Locascio Nominated to Return to NIST as Director
Laurie Locascio | July 22, 2021

President Biden announced on July 16 that he is nominating Laurie Locascio to be director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a $1 billion agency within the Commerce Department. Locascio spent most of her career at NIST, joining as a bioengineering researcher in 1986 and ultimately taking on a series of senior leadership roles before leaving the agency in 2017. Since then, she has been vice president for research at the Baltimore and College Park campuses of the University of Maryland.

Pending her confirmation by the Senate, Locascio will return to the agency at a moment when its responsibilities are expanding and lawmakers are proposing it play a substantial role in national innovation initiatives currently under consideration in Congress. The Biden administration is likewise taking a significant interest in NIST, proposing to expand its budget by 45% in the next fiscal year.

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A noninvasive test to detect cancer cells and pinpoint their location
Sangeeta Bhatia | July 15, 2021

A noninvasive test to detect cancer cells and pinpoint their location
Sangeeta Bhatia | July 15, 2021

Most of the tests that doctors use to diagnose cancer — such as mammography, colonoscopy, and CT scans — are based on imaging. More recently, researchers have also developed molecular diagnostics that can detect specific cancer-associated molecules that circulate in bodily fluids like blood or urine.

MIT engineers have now created a new diagnostic nanoparticle that combines both of these features: It can reveal the presence of cancerous proteins through a urine test, and it functions as an imaging agent, pinpointing the tumor location. In principle, this diagnostic could be used to detect cancer anywhere in the body, including tumors that have metastasized from their original locations.

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Interdisciplinary team researches potential treatments for intervertebral disc disease
Lori Setton | July 13, 2021

Interdisciplinary team researches potential treatments for intervertebral disc disease
Lori Setton | July 13, 2021

Intervertebral discs provide load support and motion between vertebrae in the spine, but when they start to break down and compress due to aging, disease or injury, a person experiences significant pain and reduced mobility. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found a way to deliver new cells to the cushioning material in intervertebral discs that may restore their height, which could reduce pain and improve mobility.

Lori Setton, the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, led a team of biomedical engineering researchers in the McKelvey School of Engineering and researchers from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the School of Medicine to develop a hydrogel modified with peptides that control cell attachment and cell fate.

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Opening Blood-Brain Barrier with Focused Ultrasound
Elisa Konofagou | July 10, 2021

Opening Blood-Brain Barrier with Focused Ultrasound
Elisa Konofagou | July 10, 2021

Ultrasound is typically synonymous with prenatal care, but soon an emerging platform called focused ultrasound could treat cancer.

In a new clinical trial, oncologists Stergios Zacharoulis, MD, professor of pediatrics at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, and Cheng-Chia Wu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, are using a focused ultrasound technique developed by Elisa Konofagou, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering and radiology at Columbia Engineering to more effectively and safely deliver chemotherapy for pediatric patients with an aggressive type of brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). The new technique works to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier, a natural protective layer in our brain, that blocks pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and other detrimental microoganisms circulating in the bloodstream from entering the central nervous system. The blood-brain barrier also limits the ability of systemic medications like chemotherapy from reaching brain tumors, making it a key challenge in effectively delivering therapies for brain tumors.

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NAACP to Present Prestigious Spingarn Medal to UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin at 112th Annual Convention
Cato Laurencin | July 6, 2021

NAACP to Present Prestigious Spingarn Medal to UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin at 112th Annual Convention
Cato Laurencin | July 6, 2021

Professor Cato T. Laurencin of the University of Connecticut is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Spingarn Medal, the highest honor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“This is the most iconic award of the NAACP,” says Laurencin, who serves as the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UConn.

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Synthetic biology circuits can respond within seconds
Bonnie Berger | July 1, 2021

Synthetic biology circuits can respond within seconds
Bonnie Berger | July 1, 2021

Synthetic biology offers a way to engineer cells to perform novel functions, such as glowing with fluorescent light when they detect a certain chemical. Usually, this is done by altering cells so they express genes that can be triggered by a certain input.

However, there is often a long lag time between an event such as detecting a molecule and the resulting output, because of the time required for cells to transcribe and translate the necessary genes. MIT synthetic biologists have now developed an alternative approach to designing such circuits, which relies exclusively on fast, reversible protein-protein interactions. This means that there’s no waiting for genes to be transcribed or translated into proteins, so circuits can be turned on much faster — within seconds.

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Director Lander, the time is now
Lola Eniola-Adefeso and Hana El-Samad | July 2, 2021

Director Lander, the time is now
Lola Eniola-Adefeso and Hana El-Samad | July 2, 2021

The Biden administration’s decision to elevate the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet-level position is a win for science. Eric Lander, confirmed in May by the Senate, is now advising the president on the scientific, engineering, and technological policies of the US government. As Dr. Lander carries out this task, we hope that he keeps in mind what President Biden asked him in a letter in January: “How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans?”

The challenges ahead are formidable. The devastating health and economic impacts of two major crises—climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic—have revealed deep societal fault lines that prevent the United States from drawing on the talents of all Americans to tackle these problems. Thus, there is an urgent need for smart and socially minded policy-making.

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Rethinking Plastics
LaShanda Korley | July 1, 2021

Rethinking Plastics
LaShanda Korley | July 1, 2021

People lived without plastic until the last century or so, but most of us would find it hard to imagine how.

Plastics now are everywhere in our lives, providing low-cost convenience and other benefits in countless applications. They can be shaped to almost any task, from wispy films to squishy children’s toys and hard-core components. They have shown themselves vital in medicine and have been pivotal in the global effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 16 months.

Plastics seem indispensable these days.

Unfortunately for the long-term, they are also nearly indestructible. Our planet now bears the weight of more than seven billion tons of plastics, with more being produced every day. An ever-growing waste stream clogs our landfills, pollutes our waterways and poses an urgent crisis for our planet.

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NSF selects Susan S. Margulies to head the Engineering Directorate
Susan Margulies | July 1, 2021

NSF selects Susan S. Margulies to head the Engineering Directorate
Susan Margulies | July 1, 2021

The U.S. National Science Foundation has selected Susan S. Margulies to head the Directorate for Engineering. She is the first biomedical engineer to lead the engineering directorate, which supports fundamental research in emerging and frontier basic research areas.

Since 2017, Margulies has been professor and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, housed jointly at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. Previously, she held positions as professor of bioengineering and neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She has won numerous awards and honors, including fellowships from the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Biomedical Engineering Society, as well as numerous other recognitions throughout her career. Margulies is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine.

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