During the last week of the Spring semester, BMEN Seniors meet with their clients to deliver the projects they've been building since last September. The projects are a part of the capstone design course taught by Professor David Rice. This year, four teams of Seniors delivered projects:
Three Biomedical Engineering faculty members have been chosen to serve on the NIH advisory panels that review grant applications and recommend funding. Members of these "Study Sections" are chosen for their broad and independent research experience; strong publication record; past record of major peer-reviewed grants; and understanding of the review process. Study Section members typically serve a four-year term and attend three meetings per year.
Professor Michael Moore's CAREER proposal “Integrated Models of Neural Axon Guidance” has been funded by the NSF. The NSF CAREER award is given to the most promising young faculty for proposed work at the cutting edge of their discipline. Given at the start of an academic career, it is one of NSF's most competitive awards, with emphasis on high quality research and novel education initiatives.
Students in Prof. Moore's lab study the development and use of microscale technologies for central nervous system (CNS) growth, regeneration, and physiology. Of particular interest is the relationship between neural architecture and function as well as the effects of the extracellular microenvironment on neural growth and guidance.
Professor Moore came to Tulane in 2007. He earned his PhD in 2005 at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine for research in the development of a biodegradable spinal cord implant, and then went to MIT for postdoctoral research in drug delivery for retinal neuroprotection under the direction of Prof. Robert Langer at MIT and Dr. Michael J. Young of the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School. The Class of 2011 has recognized him as their “Teacher of the Year.”
A featured Inc. Magazine article, "Why New Orleans Is the Coolest Start-up City in America," highlights Will Kethman '08 and his company NOvate Medical Technologies. Kethman's invention, called Safe Snip, is a disposable plastic clamp that cuts, seals, and disinfects an umbilical cord. The Tulane BMEN undergraduate team, working with Prof. David Rice, designed it for use in developing countries, where string and razor blades are widely used for severing umbilical cords, causing a host of potential health problems. NOvate was this year's winner in the IDEAPitch competition, and Kethman will be traveling to the Bay Area to meet with venture capitalists in the coming weeks.
Seth Figueroa '11 was one of 70 students selected in a nationwide competition to present his undergraduate research to members of Congress at "Posters on the Hill" in the Rayburn House Office Building on April 13th. The Council for Undergraduate Research sponsors the event. Seth and his research mentor, Prof. Michael Moore, will be presenting "A Computational Model of Axon Guidance" in an effort to help promote undergraduate research to members of the House and Senate. The Louis Stokes - Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LS-LAMP) funded Seth's project as well as Seth's trip to Washington.
The National Science Foundation has just awarded Tulane a prestigious "Research Training Group" grant to fund a proposal written by Profs. Lisa Fauci (Math), Don Gaver (Biomedical Engineering) and Ricardo Cortez (Center for Computational Science). The overall goal of the project is to strengthen and extend the research-based training of undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs by this interdisciplinary group.
Fifteen students from the Class of 2011 presented the results of their year-long undergraduate research projects last Saturday. Each student has been working in faculty mentor’s lab since the middle of their Junior year, to fulfill a part of the requirements for the year-long “Research and Professional Practice” course.
Dr. Donald Gaver, Department Chair, said “We had another fabulous Research Conference this weekend. The students did a spectacular job of presenting their work, and I want to thank the faculty for mentoring students through this process. We are clearly providing an exceptional opportunity to our students, and several of the students and their parents told me how much they appreciated the efforts the faculty has put into this.”
Among the presentations were “Localization of Biomolecules for Directing Neurite Outgrowth in 3-D Dual Hydrogel Systems” from Renee Huval, a student in Dr. Michael Moore’s lab.
Three faculty members in the Tulane Department of Biomedical Engineering are leading the way in understanding how circulating cells are involved in the function and growth of microvascular networks. Each is studying blood vessels from a different angle, resulting in an interdisciplinary approach to the research.
Work from Dr. Lee Murfee’s Microvascular Dynamics Laboratory was highlighted on the cover of the October issue of The Anatomical Record. The article entitled, “Lymphatic/Blood Endothelial Cell Connections at the Capillary Level in Adult Rat Mesentery,” identifies the structural connections between blood and lymphatic endothelial cells at the microvascular level in adult tissues. The presence of these connections provides novel insight into how fluid enters the lymphatic system and the similarities between blood and lymphatic cell types. This work will contribute to understanding of lymphatic function and growth during normal and pathological conditions, such as cancer metas.
Assistant Professor Ravi Birla, Professor Michael Dancisak, and Associate Professor Yu-Ping Wang are our newest additions to the Biomedical Engineering faculty.
Research in Dr. Birla's Artificial Heart Laboratory (AHL) is focused on the development of 3D cardiovascular tissue constructs. During the Spring 2011 semester, he’s teaching BMEN4900 Research and Professional Practice I, and also directing the BMEN6720 Departmental Seminar.
Read Dr. Birla's Biography »
Dr. Dancisak's research interest is in enhancing physical performance for older adults and individuals working in extreme environments. In Spring 2011, he will be teaching BMEN3100 Physical Dimensions of Aging, and SCEN3140 Anatomy and Physiology II.
Read Dr. Dancisak's Biography »
The research in Dr. Wang's Multi-scale Bioimaging and Bioinformatics Lab includes genetic imaging, bioinformatics, multi-scale mathematical analysis and various biomedical applications, which are currently supported by the NSF and NIH. In Spring 2011, Dr. Wang will be teaching BMEN3820 Math Analysis of Biological Systems.
Read Dr. Wang's Biography »
Undergraduates in the Tulane University biomedical engineering program have won a prize for a technology design that could detect malaria in the millions of people worldwide who are at risk for the disease.
The six students tied for third place and won a $2,500 grant at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance BMEStart competition for their idea, a new diagnostic tool to detect malaria by examining the retina of the eye.
When Ben Cappiello ’10 was a Senior, he enrolled in Prof. Sergey Shevkoplyas’ course BMEN6760 “Biomedical Microdevices” as an elective. A course requirement was to write a 2-page grant proposal to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in response to round 4 of their Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. Ben’s proposal was for an improvement in the instrument that’s used to insert IUD contraceptive implants. The current technology requires four different instruments and a skilled practitioner, and Ben’s design, inspired by what he learned in the course, called for a single instrument that a local health worker could learn to safely use.
The next semester, in Prof. Ed Karp’s SCEN6000 “Engineering Entrepreneurship” course, Ben developed a business plan and a marketing strategy. When he graduated, he knew that he would be an entrepreneur. He and business partner Shuchi Khurana created a start-up venture, Bioceptive LLC (http://bioceptive.com) that's headquartered in New Orleans.
Right now, he divides his time between business development and designing prototypes for the first phase of product trials. The team is writing a SBIR Phase I proposal to the National Institutes of Health, and hopes to start prototype production in early 2011.
Dr. Sergey Shevkoplyas, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, has just been awarded a $74,900 grant by the National Blood Foundation. The Foundation only awarded 8 new grants this year.
The quality of red blood cells in storage can deteriorate as the cells lose certain functional abilities and accumulate oxidative damage over time. This "storage lesion" decreases the ability of red blood cells to deliver oxygen effectively in the transfusion recipient.
With the NBF grant "The Relationship between the Ability of Stored Red Blood Cells to Perfuse Microvascular Networks and their 24-hr Post-Transfusion Recovery in Vivo", Shevkoplyas and colleagues will assess the ability of artificial microvasculature networks, or AMVNs, to detect the deterioration in red blood cells that takes place over time. They plan to compare the behavior of stored red blood cells in AMVNs with the 24-hour in vivo recovery of transfused blood in human subjects.
The Biomedical Engineering Department has partnered with a local charter high school by offering use of our 3-d rapid prototyping printer to a group of high school students. Lusher High School submitted a proposal to NASA for funding, and was one of only five schools in Louisiana to be awarded a grant. The students, in an Aerospace/Astronomy class, will design components needed by NASA using Siemens modeling software, and then "print" their products on BME's new rapid prototyping system.
When Bob Lathrop came from Canton, Ohio, to Tulane University he had in mind a career in biomedical engineering with a corporation. But after two months volunteering in eastern Africa this summer with Engineering World Health, Lathrop’s interest is leaning toward more social ventures.
Amaris Genemaras and Lindsey Shepard are also stars of the Green Wave volleyball team. Amaris is the leader on the defensive end with 146 digs, and Lindsey owns the top hitting percentage on the squad with .307 clip and has a team-best 39 blocks.
Our graduate students presented 16 posters, and an additional 5 platform presentations. Professors Ahsan and Khismatullin served as Session Chairs. Among the presentations:
C. Chen and D.B. Khismatullin: Histamine induces monocyte interactions with arterial endothelium in vitro
John J. Pitre, Eiichiro Yamaguchi, Bradford J. Smith, Omid Forouzan, Sergey S. Shevkoplyas, Donald P. Gaver III: Pulmonary-Airway-On-a-Chip: A Microfluidic Model of Pulmonary Airway Reopening at Bifurcations
R. Evers, and R. K. Birla: Methodology for the Fabrication of Functional 3D Cardiac Pumps
W. Wang, P.C. Stapor, W.L. Murfee, and D.B. Khismatullin: Influence of Permeability on Shear Stress Distribution Along Capillary Sprouts
Russell P. Wolfe, Jardin Leleux, Taby Ahsan: Shear Stress Effects on Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation
Kristen Lynch, Todd Johnson, Paula Avery, Taby Ahsan: High-Throughput Antibody-Independent Methods for Sorting Stem Cells
Emma T. Pineda, Robert M. Nerem, Taby Ahsan: Culture of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells in Three Dimensional Collagen Gels
Additionally, Dr. Gaver represented Tulane on the Council of Chairs and the AIMBE Academic Council, and Dr. Walker serves on the BMES Accreditation Committee.
With the recent hire of junior faculty members in the areas of angiogenesis (Dr. Lee Murfee), leukocyte mechanics (Dr. Damir Khismatullin), microfluidic devices (Dr. Sergey Shevkoplyas), and stem cell mechanobiology (Dr. Taby Ahsan), Tulane’s Department of Biomedical Engineering is positioned to be a leader in vascular bioengineering research. Design of therapies for some of today’s most challenging biomedical related diseases, such as tumor metastasis, atherosclerosis, cardiac infarction and hypertension, will require an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how we can manipulate the microcirculation. Integration of ongoing research on the directing stem cell differentiation into vascular cells via mechanic cues, cell recruitment to sites of inflammation, and the growth of functional vessels will offer new paradigms for future microvascular research. More importantly, the combination of the computational, in vitro, and in vivo experimental expertise within the Department of Biomedical Engineering Department has established a unique environment at Tulane for vascular research.
Dr. Moore recently received funding from the Louisiana Board of Regents (LEQSF[2009-10]-RD-A-18) to further develop techniques he has invented for creating 3D tissue-engineered models of nerve growth. His approach involves a digital micromirror device (DMD), the same technology used in DLP televisions and projectors, for patterning biocompatible hydrogels on the scale of micrometers (1/1000th of a millimeter).These micropatterned hydrogels provide a three-dimensional environment for studying the guidance of neural tissue growth. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke awarded funding (R21-NS065374) to use these 3D micropatterned environments for studying the guidance of neural tissue growth in response to biomolecules engineered into the gels. Dr. Moore is specifically interested in a class of biomolecules partially responsible for the development of the optic chiasm, the point at which nerves from both eyes cross to take information from each eye to either side of the brain. The research may lead to a better understanding of how to engineer nerve growth in preferred directions in a manner that more closely resembles natural processes.
Recent NIH-funded investigations aim to identify biological transport properties that can be used to deliver air to obstructed regions of the lung. These studies are particularly relevant to the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which afflicts approximately 200,000 individuals annually in the U.S. and has a mortality rate of 40%. Tulane’s investigations are targeted at the development of mechanical ventilation strategies to reduce the mechanical stress associated with ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). These studies, performed in the Professor Donald Gaver’s laboratory, use computational modeling, micro-scale flow visualization techniques and biological assays to identify surfactant transport interactions that may reduce the deleterious mechanical stresses that can damage sensitive pulmonary epithelial cells. These studies test the hypothesis that engineered pulsatile ventilation waveforms will minimize damage to airway epithelial cells by optimizing surfactant transport and biophysical responses to reduce the damaging mechanical stresses imparted on the airway epithelium.
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