<![CDATA[NIH Director Visits Georgia Research Community]]> 27224 The Georgia university research community welcomed Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Thursday, May 30, 2013.  On the heels of learning the specifics on how the sequestration will impact the NIH, Collins spent time with administrators and researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, University of Georgia (UGA), Georgia State University and Morehouse School of Medicine.    

The group spent the morning highlighting NIH funded research. Scientists representing Georgia Tech included Robert Guldberg, Ph.D., executive director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and professor in mechanical engineering, who spoke to Collins about the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center, a partnership between Emory University and Georgia Tech focused on endogenous repair and healing of nerves, bone, metabolic and cardiac applications. 

Todd McDevitt, Ph.D., director of the Stem Cell Engineering Center and associate professor in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech, presented four projects funded with NIH dollars, including wound healing studies from a “Transformative Research Award,” a program developed to fund “high-risk, high-reward” science under the NIH’s Common Fund.

“Given that Dr. Collins recently dedicated a blog post on the ongoing research of Andrés García, Todd McDevitt, Hang Lu and Steve Stice from UGA, we were excited to share the great work being done in regenerative medicine and in stem cells,” explained Stephen Cross, Ph.D., executive vice president for research. “Bob and Todd were able to present ongoing NIH funded work for which Dr. Collins expressed both admiration and strong support.” 

Later that morning, administration from each university traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where they were joined by representatives from Clark Atlanta University, Georgia Regents University, Georgia Southern University and Mercer University for further discussions with Congressman Jack Kingston, Collins and Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, director for the Center for Disease Control.  Each representative highlighted their NIH and/or CDC funded research as well as shared concerns regarding sequestration impacts on each university’s budget and ultimately the state’s economy.  Representatives also provided Collins and Frieden with suggestions on specific grant programs and reporting, peer review processes and programs aimed at diversifying the healthcare workforce.    

Due to the sequestration, the NIH’s budget will fall by $1.71 billion in 2013, which represents a 5% decrease.  As a result, NIH expects to fund 703 fewer new and competing research grants this year.

This decline in funding will have an impact on our Georgia universities, including Georgia Tech, which was awarded $41.3 million from the NIH in 2012.  NIH estimates that every $1 in NIH funding generates $2.21 in local economic growth.

As for how these cuts will affect individual research labs, that may not be known for some time. However, Collins is already seeking anecdotes of the sequestration’s impact via a twitter discussion using the hashtag #NIHSequesterImpact. 

  

Georgia Tech has created a sequestration information webpage, which includes the latest updates from Georgia Tech and many of its federal search sponsors. http://tlw-proxy.gatech.edu/research/faculty-and-staff-resources/sequestration-updates

 

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1370023129 2013-05-31 17:58:49 1475896460 2016-10-08 03:14:20 0 0 news The Georgia university research community welcomed Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Thursday, May 30, 2013.  On the heels of learning the specifics on how the sequestration will impact the NIH, Collins spent time with administrators and researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, University of Georgia (UGA), and Morehouse School of Medicine.  

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2013-06-01T00:00:00-04:00 2013-06-01T00:00:00-04:00 2013-06-01 00:00:00 Megan Graziano McDevitt
Parker H. Petit Institute 
for Bioengineering and Bioscience


Teri A. Nagel, APR

Office of Government
and Community Relations

Kirk Englehardt
Office of the Executive Vice
President for Research
 and 
Institute Communications

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215851 215861 215851 image <![CDATA[Bob Guldberg and Steve Cross with Francis Collins]]> image/jpeg 1449180114 2015-12-03 22:01:54 1475894879 2016-10-08 02:47:59 215861 image <![CDATA[Todd McDevitt presenting to Francis Collins]]> image/jpeg 1449180114 2015-12-03 22:01:54 1475894879 2016-10-08 02:47:59 <![CDATA[Francis Collins Blog]]> <![CDATA[National Institutes of Health]]> <![CDATA[Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]> <![CDATA[Guldberg Musculoskeletal Research Lab]]> <![CDATA[McDevitt Research Lab]]>
<![CDATA[Emory, Georgia Tech receive first human exposome center grant in U.S.]]> 27462 Investigators at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, along with partners at the Georgia Institute of Technology, have received a $4 million grant over four years to establish the HERCULES Center at Emory University (Health and Exposome Research Center: Understanding Lifetime Exposures). The grant is the first exposome-based center grant awarded in the United States.

The HERCULES Center is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the National Institutes of Health as an Environmental Health Sciences Core Center. This NIEHS initiative is designed to establish leadership and support for programs of excellence in environmental health sciences by providing scientific guidance, technology and career development opportunities for promising investigators.

The exposome is a relatively new concept that incorporates all of the exposures encountered by humans. It is proposed to be the environmental equivalent of the human genome and includes lifetime exposures to environmental pollutants in food, water, physical activity, medications, homes and daily stressors. Exposome research looks at the holistic view of the human body’s exposures, how the body responds to those exposures, and their combined effects.

“HERCULES is more than an acronym,” explains Gary W. Miller, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at the Rollins School of Public Health, and director of the HERCULES Center. “Sequencing of the human genome project was a Herculean task, and determining the impact of the complex exposures we face throughout our lives represents a similarly difficult challenge. The exposome itself represents all of the external forces that act upon us. We know that measuring the exposome will be extremely difficult, but very worthwhile.”

Scientists believe that when coupled with a growing understanding of genetics, the exposome will help uncover the causes of many complex disorders, such as autism, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease.

Based at Emory’s School of Public Health, the HERCULES Center comprises 38 investigators from both Emory and Georgia Tech. The center aims to promote the importance of the environment at a level equivalent to that of genetics.

A key feature of the HERCULES Center is the Systems Biology Core headed by Eberhard Voit, PhD, in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Voit is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. The Systems Biology Core will provide expertise in computational approaches used to analyze and integrate large datasets.

“Assessing the enormous complexity of the exposome means entering uncharted territory and a unique opportunity for exploring and applying concepts and computational technologies that are just emerging in the nascent field of systems biology,” says Voit, who is also the David D. Flanagan Chair in the biomedical engineering department. “We are very excited that Georgia Tech and Emory will venture into this new field together to learn and gain a greatly improved understanding of health and disease.”

“This is such exciting news for us all,” explains Paige Tolbert, PhD, chair of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health and deputy director of the HERCULES Center. “This is a terrific development for the department, the school, the university and our bridge with Georgia Tech and beyond.”

The HERCULES Center aims to promote the concept of the human exposome project on both a national and international level and welcomes research outside of Emory and Georgia Tech.

 

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1369224004 2013-05-22 12:00:04 1475896456 2016-10-08 03:14:16 0 0 news Investigators at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, along with partners at the Georgia Institute of Technology, have received a $4 million grant over four years to establish the HERCULES Center at Emory University (Health and Exposome Research Center: Understanding Lifetime Exposures). The grant is the first exposome-based center grant awarded in the United States. 

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2013-05-22T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-22T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-22 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
laura.diamond@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-660-2926

]]>
71738 71738 image <![CDATA[Eberhard Voit (CSE, BME) Headshot Fall 2011]]> image/jpeg 1449177396 2015-12-03 21:16:36 1475894642 2016-10-08 02:44:02 <![CDATA[Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering]]> <![CDATA[Eberhard Voit]]>
<![CDATA[Soft Matter Offers Ways to Study Arrangement of Ordered Materials in Non-spherical Spaces]]> 27303 A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.

The doughnut-shaped droplets, a shape known as toroidal, are formed from two dissimilar liquids using a simple rotating stage and an injection needle. About a millimeter in overall size, the droplets are produced individually, their shapes maintained by a surrounding springy material made of polymers. Droplets in this toroidal shape made of a liquid crystal – the same type of material used in laptop displays – may have properties very different from those of spherical droplets made from the same material.

While researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology don’t have a specific application for the doughnut-shaped droplets yet, they believe the novel structures offer opportunities to study many interesting problems, from looking at the properties of ordered materials within these confined spaces to studying how geometry affects how cells behave.

“Our experiments provide a fresh approach to the way that people have been looking at these kinds of problems, which is mainly theoretical. We are doing experiments with toroids whose geometry can be precisely controlled in the lab,” said Alberto Fernandez-Nieves, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Physics. “This work opens up a new way to experimentally look at problems that nobody has been able to study before. The properties of toroidal surfaces are very different, from a general point of view, from those of spherical surfaces.”

Development of these “stable nematic droplets with handles” was described May 20 in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and also involves researchers at the Lorentz Institute for Theoretical Physics at Leiden University in The Netherlands and at York University in the United Kingdom.

Droplets normally form spherical shapes to minimize the surface area required to contain a given volume of liquid. Though they appear to be simple, when an ordered material like a crystal or a liquid crystal lives on the surface of a sphere, it provides interesting challenges to mathematicians and theoretical physicists.

A physicist who focuses on soft condensed matter, Fernandez-Nieves had long been interested in the theoretical aspects of curved surfaces. Working with graduate research assistant Ekapop Pairam and postdoctoral fellow Jayalakshmi Vallamkondu, he wanted to extend the theoretical studies into the experimental world for a system of toroidal shapes.

But could doughnut-shaped droplets be made in the lab?

The partial answer came from churros Fernandez-Nieves ate as a child growing up in Spain. These “Spanish doughnuts” – actually spirals – are made by injecting dough into hot oil while the dough is spun and fried.

In the lab at a much smaller size scale, the researchers found they could use a similar process with two immiscible liquids such as glycerine or water and oil, a needle and a magnetically-controlled rotating stage. A droplet of glycerine is injected into the rotating stage containing the oil. In certain conditions, a jet forms at the needle, which closes up into a torus because of the imposed rotation.

“You can control the two relevant curvatures of the torus,” explained Fernandez-Nieves. “You can control how large it is because you can move the needle with respect to the rotation axis. You can also infuse more volume to make the torus thicker.”

If the stage is then turned off, however, the drop of glycerine quickly loses its doughnut shape as surface tension forces it to become a traditional spherical droplet. To maintain the toroidal shape, Fernandez-Nieves and his collaborators replace the surrounding oil with a springy polymeric material; the springy character of this material provides a force that can overcome surface tension forces.

“When you are making the toroid, the forces on the needle are large enough that the surrounding material behaves as a fluid,” he explained.  “Once you stop, the elasticity of the outside fluid overcomes surface tension and that freezes the structure in place.”

The researchers have been using the doughnut shapes to study how liquid crystal materials, which are well known for their applications in laptop displays, organize inside the torus. These materials have degrees of order beyond those of simple liquids such as water. For these materials, the toroidal shape provides a new set of study opportunities from both theoretical and experimental perspectives.

“This changes how you think about a liquid inside a container,” said Fernandez-Nieves. “The materials will still adopt the shape of the container, but its energy will be different depending on the shape. The materials feel distortions and will try to minimize them. In a given shape, the molecules in these materials will rearrange themselves to minimize these distortions.”

Among the surprises is that the nematic droplets created with toroidal shapes become chiral, that is, they adopt a certain twisting direction and break their mirror symmetry.

“In our case, the materials we are using are not chiral under normal circumstances,” he noted. “This was a surprise to us, and it has to do with how we are confining the molecules.”

Beyond looking at the dynamics of creating the droplets and how ordered materials behave when the torus transforms into a sphere, Fernandez-Nieves and colleagues are also exploring potential biological applications, applying electrical fields to the droplets, and sharing the unique structures with scientists at other institutions.

“This is the first time that stable nematic droplets have been generated with handles, and we have exploited that to look at the nematic organization inside those spaces,” said Fernandez-Nieves. “Our experiments open up a versatile new approach for generating handled droplets made of an ordered material that can self-assemble into interesting and unexpected structures when confined to these non-spherical spaces. Now that theoreticians realize we can generate and study these systems, there may be much more development in this area.”

In addition to those already mentioned, the paper’s authors included V. Koning, B.C. van Zuiden and V. Vitelli from Leiden University, M.A. Bates from the University of York in the United Kingdom, and P.W. Ellis from Georgia Tech.

The research described here has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation under CAREER award DMR-0847304. The findings and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Science Foundation.

CITATION: E. Pairam, et al., “Stable nematic droplets with handles,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013)

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1369082867 2013-05-20 20:47:47 1475896456 2016-10-08 03:14:16 0 0 news A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.

]]>
2013-05-21T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-21T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-21 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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213901 213921 213911 213931 213941 213951 213901 image <![CDATA[Toroidal droplets]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213921 image <![CDATA[Toroidal droplets3]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213911 image <![CDATA[Toroidal droplets2]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213931 image <![CDATA[Toroidal droplets4]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213941 image <![CDATA[Toroidal droplets5]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213951 image <![CDATA[Toroidal droplets6]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56
<![CDATA[Principles of Ant Locomotion Could Help Future Robot Teams Work Underground]]> 27303 Future teams of subterranean search and rescue robots may owe their success to the lowly fire ant, a much despised insect whose painful bites and extensive networks of underground tunnels are all-too-familiar to people living in the southern United States.

By studying fire ants in the laboratory using video tracking equipment and X-ray computed tomography, researchers have uncovered fundamental principles of locomotion that robot teams could one day use to travel quickly and easily through underground tunnels. Among the principles is building tunnel environments that assist in moving around by limiting slips and falls, and by reducing the need for complex neural processing.

Among the study’s surprises was the first observation that ants in confined spaces use their antennae for locomotion as well as for sensing the environment.

“Our hypothesis is that the ants are creating their environment in just the right way to allow them to move up and down rapidly with a minimal amount of neural control,” said Daniel Goldman, an associate professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and one of the paper’s co-authors. “The environment allows the ants to make missteps and not suffer for them. These ants can teach us some remarkably effective tricks for maneuvering in subterranean environments.”

The research was reported May 20 in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work was sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Physics of Living Systems program.

In a series of studies carried out by graduate research assistant Nick Gravish, groups of fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) were placed into tubes of soil and allowed to dig tunnels for 20 hours. To simulate a range of environmental conditions, Gravish and postdoctoral fellow Daria Monaenkova varied the size of the soil particles from 50 microns on up to 600 microns, and also altered the moisture content from 1 to 20 percent.

While the variations in particle size and moisture content did produce changes in the volume of tunnels produced and the depth that the ants dug, the diameters of the tunnels remained constant – and comparable to the length of the creatures’ own bodies: about 3.5 millimeters.

“Independent of whether the soil particles were as large as the animals’ heads or whether they were fine powder, or whether the soil was damp or contained very little moisture, the tunnel size was always the same within a tight range,” said Goldman. “The size of the tunnels appears to be a design principle used by the ants, something that they were controlling for.”

Gravish believes such a scaling effect allows the ants to make best use of their antennae, limbs and body to rapidly ascend and descend in the tunnels by interacting with the walls and limiting the range of possible missteps.

“In these subterranean environments where their leg motions are certainly hindered, we see that the speeds at which these ants can run are the same,” he said. “The tunnel size seems to have little, if any, effect on locomotion as defined by speed.”

The researchers used X-ray computed tomography to study tunnels the ants built in the test chambers, gathering 168 observations. They also used video tracking equipment to collect data on ants moving through tunnels made between two clear plates – much like “ant farms” sold for children – and through a maze of glass tubes of differing diameters.

The maze was mounted on an air piston that was periodically fired, dropping the maze with a force of as much as 27 times that of gravity. The sudden movement caused about half of the ants in the tubes to lose their footing and begin to fall. That led to one of the study’s most surprising findings: the creatures used their antennae to help grab onto the tube walls as they fell.

“A lot of us who have studied social insects for a long time have never seen antennae used in that way,” said Michael Goodisman, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Biology and one of the paper’s other co-authors. “It’s incredible that they catch themselves with their antennae. This is an adaptive behavior that we never would have expected.”

By analyzing ants falling in the glass tubes, the researchers determined that the tube diameter played a key role in whether the animals could arrest their fall.

In future studies, the researchers plan to explore how the ants excavate their tunnel networks, which involves moving massive amounts of soil. That soil is the source of the large mounds for which fire ants are known.

While the research focused on understanding the principles behind how ants move in confined spaces, the results could have implications for future teams of small robots.

“The problems that the ants face are the same kinds of problems that a digging robot working in a confined space would potentially face – the need for rapid movement, stability and safety – all with limited sensing and brain power,” said Goodisman. “If we want to build machines that dig, we can build in controls like these ants have.”  

Why use fire ants for studying underground locomotion?

“These animals dig virtually non-stop, and they are good, repeatable study subjects,” Goodisman explained. “And they are very convenient for us to study. We can go outside the laboratory door and collect them virtually anywhere.”

The research described here has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant POLS 095765, and by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The findings and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.

CITATION: Nick Gravish, et al., “Climbing, falling and jamming during ant locomotion in confined environments,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013).

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu)
Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1368996773 2013-05-19 20:52:53 1475896456 2016-10-08 03:14:16 0 0 news Future teams of subterranean search and rescue robots may owe their success to the lowly fire ant, a much despised insect whose painful bites and extensive networks of underground tunnels are all-too-familiar to people living in the southern United States.

]]>
2013-05-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-20 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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213651 213671 213681 213661 213641 213631 213651 image <![CDATA[Confined Spaces Locomotion - Researchers]]> image/jpeg 1449180076 2015-12-03 22:01:16 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213671 image <![CDATA[Confined Spaces Locomotion - Tubes]]> image/jpeg 1449180076 2015-12-03 22:01:16 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213681 image <![CDATA[Confined Spaces Locomotion - Ants]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213661 image <![CDATA[Confined Spaces Locomotion - Nests]]> image/jpeg 1449180076 2015-12-03 22:01:16 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213641 image <![CDATA[Confined Spaces Locomotion - Team2]]> image/jpeg 1449180076 2015-12-03 22:01:16 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213631 image <![CDATA[Confined Spaces Locomotion - Team]]> image/jpeg 1449180076 2015-12-03 22:01:16 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56
<![CDATA[Grand Challenges Grant Supports Tissue Engineered Model of Lymphatic System]]> 27303 The Georgia Institute of Technology has announced that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. J. Brandon Dixon, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Lymphatic on a chip as a model for lymphatic filariasis (LF) parasites.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dixon’s project is one of the Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 grants announced May 21 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

To receive funding, Dixon and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, neglected tropical diseases and communications.

The grant will fund development of a tissue-engineered model of the human lymphatic system that will support laboratory research into lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic disease known to cause elephantiasis. According to the World Health Organization, the mosquito-borne disease affects more than 120 million persons in tropical areas of the world, and can cause severe disfigurement. The parasitic worms that cause lymphatic filariasis are difficult to study because the most common species of the parasite can survive only in humans. While less common species can be maintained in felines or gerbils, they are challenging to culture long-term outside the host. The model that Dixon plans to develop would use human cells housed within fabricated microfluidic devices to closely simulate the environment where the adult worms live within their hosts, allowing the parasites to be studied longer term in vitro.

“We would use this human lymphatic environment on a microfluidic chip to study the progression of the disease and the communication between the host and the parasite,” explained Dixon, who is also a member of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. “We could also scale this up to evaluate new pharmaceutical compounds that could potentially target the worm.”

The microfluidic system will include human lymphatic endothelial cells, which are the primary cell type in contact with the worms in the body. Researchers will also include human dermal fibroblasts – an important cell type in the skin where the mosquito first delivers the parasitic infection – and the immune cells that fight infection long-term. Beyond creating the cellular environment needed to support the worms, the researchers will also design a matrix to house the living cells, determine which hormones and nutrients are needed, and establish appropriate fluid flow rates for the microfluidic devices to recreate the hydrodynamic forces the worms encounter in the body. The devices will be integrated into an optical platform that would allow researchers to quantify the activity of the worms over extended periods of time using automated image analysis algorithms.

Beyond studying lymphatic filariasis, Dixon believes a lymphatic system on a chip could ultimately support broader areas of research into disorders of this bodily system. The human lymphatic system has historically been underappreciated and is challenging to study because it is difficult to image, the vessels involved are small and the flow rates are very low compared to blood vasculature.

About Grand Challenges Explorations
Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 800 people in more than 50 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
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Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

 

]]> John Toon 1 1369048479 2013-05-20 11:14:39 1475896456 2016-10-08 03:14:16 0 0 news Georgia Tech has won a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  J. Brandon Dixon, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Lymphatic on a chip as a model for lymphatic filariasis (LF) parasites.”

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2013-05-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-20 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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<![CDATA[Study Suggests Drug Side Effects Inevitable; Basic Physics Enabled Early Biochemistry]]> 27303 A new study of both computer-created and natural proteins suggests that the number of unique pockets – sites where small molecule pharmaceutical compounds can bind to proteins – is surprisingly small, meaning drug side effects may be impossible to avoid. The study also found that the fundamental biochemical processes needed for life could have been enabled by the simple physics of protein folding.  

Studying a set of artificial proteins and comparing them to natural proteins, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have concluded that there may be no more than about 500 unique protein pocket configurations that serve as binding sites for small molecule ligands. Therefore, the likelihood that a molecule intended for one protein target will also bind with an unintended target is significant, said Jeffrey Skolnick, a professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech.

“Our study provides a rationalization for why a lot of drugs have significant side effects – because that is intrinsic to the process,” said Skolnick. “There are only a relatively small number of different ligand binding pockets. The likelihood of having geometry in an amino acid composition that will bind the same ligand turns out to be much higher than anyone would have anticipated. This means that the idea that a small molecule could have just one protein target can’t be supported.”

Research on the binding pockets was published May 20 in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Skolnick and collaborator Mu Gao have been studying the effects of physics on the activity of protein binding, and contrasting the original conditions created by the folding of amino acid residues against the role played by evolution in optimizing the process.

“The basic physics of the system provides the mechanism for molecules to bind to proteins,” said Skolnick, who is director of the Center for the Study of Systems Biology at Georgia Tech. “You don’t need evolution to have a system that works on at least a low level. In other words, proteins are inherently capable of engaging in biochemical function without evolution’s selection. Beyond unintended drug effects, this has a lot of implications for the biochemical component of the origins of life.”

Binding pockets on proteins are formed by the underlying secondary structure of the amino acids, which is directed by hydrogen bonding in the chemistry. That allows formation of similar pockets on many different proteins, even those that are not directly related to one another.

“You could have the same or very similar pockets on the same protein, the same pockets on similar proteins, and the same pockets on completely dissimilar proteins that have no evolutionary relationship. In proteins that are related evolutionarily or that have similar structures, you could have very dissimilar pockets,” said Skolnick, who is also a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. “This helps explain why we see unintended effects of drugs, and opens up a new paradigm for how one has to think about discovering drugs.”

The implications of this “biochemical noise” for the drug discovery process could be significant. To counter the impact of unintended effects, drug developers will need to know more about the available pockets so they can avoid affecting binding locations that are also located on proteins critical to life processes. If the inevitable unintended binding takes place on less critical proteins, the side effects may be less severe.

In addition, drug development could also move to a higher level, examining the switches that modulate the activity of proteins beyond binding sites. That may require a different approach to drug development.

“The strategy for minimizing side effects and maximizing positive effects may have to operate at a higher level,” Skolnick said. “You are never going to be able to design unintended binding effects away. But you can minimize the undesirable effects to some extent.”

In their study, Skolnick and Gao used computer simulations to produce a series of artificial proteins that were folded according the laws of physics, but not optimized for function. Using an algorithm that compares pairs of pockets and assesses the statistical significance of their structural overlap, they analyzed the similarity between the binding pockets in the artificial proteins and the pockets on a series of native proteins. The artificial pockets all had corresponding pockets on the natural proteins, suggesting that the simple physics of folding has been a major factor in development of the pockets.

“This is how life, at least the biochemistry of life, could have gotten started,” said Skolnick. “Evolution would have optimized the functions, but you don’t need that to get started at a low level of efficiency. If you had a soup of our artificial proteins, even with no selection you could at least do low-level biochemistry.”

Though the basic biochemistry of life was made possible by simple physics, optimizing the binding process to allow the efficiencies seen in modern organisms would have required evolutionary selection.

“This is the first time that it has been shown that side effects of drugs are an inherent, fundamental property of proteins rather than a property that can be controlled for in the design,” Skolnick added. “The physics involved is more important than had been generally appreciated.

Research reported in this news release was supported by the Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number GM48835. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

CITATION: Jeffrey Skolnick and Mu Gao, “Interplay of physics and evolution in the likely origin of protein biochemical function,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013).

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]]> John Toon 1 1368997934 2013-05-19 21:12:14 1475896456 2016-10-08 03:14:16 0 0 news A new study of both computer-created and natural proteins suggests that the number of unique pockets – sites where small molecule pharmaceutical compounds can bind to proteins – is surprisingly small, meaning drug side effects may be impossible to avoid. The study also found that the fundamental biochemical processes needed for life could have been enabled by the simple physics of protein folding. 

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2013-05-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-20 00:00:00 John Toon

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213711 213711 image <![CDATA[Drug Side Effects]]> image/jpeg 1449180096 2015-12-03 22:01:36 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56
<![CDATA[RNA Was Capable of Catalyzing Electron Transfer on Early Earth with Iron’s Help, Study Shows]]> 27303 A new study shows how complex biochemical transformations may have been possible under conditions that existed when life began on the early Earth.

The study shows that RNA is capable of catalyzing electron transfer under conditions similar to those of the early Earth. Because electron transfer, the moving of an electron from one chemical species to another, is involved in many biological processes – including photosynthesis, respiration and the reduction of RNA to DNA – the study’s findings suggest that complex biochemical transformations may have been possible when life began.

There is considerable evidence that the evolution of life passed through an early stage when RNA played a more central role, before DNA and coded proteins appeared. During that time, more than 3 billion years ago, the environment lacked oxygen but had an abundance of soluble iron.

“Our study shows that when RNA teams up with iron in an oxygen-free environment, RNA displays the powerful ability to catalyze single electron transfer, a process involved in the most sophisticated biochemistry, yet previously uncharacterized for RNA,” said Loren Williams, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The results of the study were published online on May 19, 2013, in the journal Nature Chemistry. The study was sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which established the Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution (Ribo Evo) at Georgia Tech.

Free oxygen gas was almost nonexistent in the Earth’s atmosphere more than 3 billion years ago. When free oxygen began entering the environment as a product of photosynthesis, it turned the earth’s iron to rust, forming massive banded iron formations that are still mined today. The free oxygen produced by advanced organisms caused iron to be toxic, even though it was – and still is – a requirement for life. Williams believes the environmental transition caused a slow shift from the use of iron to magnesium for RNA binding, folding and catalysis.

Williams and Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry postdoctoral fellow Chiaolong Hsiao used a standard peroxidase assay to detect electron transfer in solutions of RNA and either the iron ion, Fe2+, or magnesium ion, Mg2+. For 10 different types of RNA, the researchers observed catalysis of single electron transfer in the presence of iron and absence of oxygen. They found that two of the most abundant and ancient types of RNA, the 23S ribosomal RNA and transfer RNA, catalyzed electron transfer more efficiently than other types of RNA. However, none of the RNA and magnesium solutions catalyzed single electron transfer in the oxygen-free environment.

“Our findings suggest that the catalytic competence of RNA may have been greater in early Earth conditions than in present conditions, and our experiments may have revived a latent function of RNA,” added Williams, who is also director of the Ribo Evo Center.

This new study expands on research published in May 2012 in the journal PLoS ONE. In the previous work, Williams led a team that used experiments and numerical calculations to show that iron, in the absence of oxygen, could substitute for magnesium in RNA binding, folding and catalysis. The researchers found that RNA’s shape and folding structure remained the same and its functional activity increased when magnesium was replaced by iron in an oxygen-free environment.

In future studies, the researchers plan to investigate whether other unique functions may have been conferred on RNA through interaction with a variety of metals available on the early Earth.

In addition to Williams and Hsiao, Georgia Tech School of Biology professors Roger Wartell and Stephen Harvey, and Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry professor Nicholas Hud, also contributed to this work as co-principal investigators in the Ribo Evo Center at Georgia Tech.

This work was supported by NASA (Award No. NNA09DA78A). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of NASA.

CITATION: Chiaolong Hsiao, et al., “RNA with iron(II) as a cofactor catalyses electron transfer,” (Nature Chemistry, 2013). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1649

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]]> John Toon 1 1368971164 2013-05-19 13:46:04 1475896456 2016-10-08 03:14:16 0 0 news A new study shows how complex biochemical transformations may have been possible under conditions that existed when life began on the early Earth. The study shows that RNA is capable of catalyzing electron transfer under conditions similar to those of the early Earth.

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2013-05-19T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-19T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-19 00:00:00 John Toon

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jtoon@gatech.edu

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213601 213611 213601 image <![CDATA[RNA Catalysis]]> image/jpeg 1449180076 2015-12-03 22:01:16 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56 213611 image <![CDATA[RNA Catalysis2]]> image/jpeg 1449180076 2015-12-03 22:01:16 1475894876 2016-10-08 02:47:56
<![CDATA[Biomaterial Shows Promise for Type 1 Diabetes Treatment]]> 27462 Researchers have made a significant first step with newly engineered biomaterials for cell transplantation that could help lead to a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes, which affects about 3 million Americans.

Georgia Tech engineers and Emory University clinicians have successfully engrafted insulin-producing cells into a diabetic mouse model, reversing diabetic symptoms in the animal in as little as 10 days.

The research team engineered a biomaterial to protect the cluster of insulin-producing cells – donor pancreatic islets – during injection. The material also contains proteins to foster blood vessel formation that allow the cells to successfully graft, survive and function within the body.

“It’s very promising,” said Andrés Garcia, Georgia Tech professor of mechanical engineering. “There is a lot of excitement because not only can we get the islets to survive and function, but we can also cure diabetes with fewer islets than are normally needed.”

The research article – a partnership with Emory’s Dr. Robert Taylor and Dr. Peter Thule that was funded in part by the JDRF, the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes research – will be published in the June issue of the journal Biomaterials.

Organizations such as JDRF are dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that allows the transport of sugar and other nutrients into tissues where they are converted to energy needed for daily life.

Pancreatic islet transplantation re-emerged as a promising therapy in the late 1990s. Patients with diabetes typically find it difficult to comply with multiple daily insulin injections, which only partially improve long-term outcomes. Successful islet transplantation would remove the need for patients to administer insulin. While islet transplantation trials have had some success, and control of glucose levels is often improved, diabetic symptoms have returned in most patients and they have had to revert to using some insulin.

Unsuccessful transplants can be attributed to several factors, researchers say. The current technique of injecting islets directly into the blood vessels in the liver causes approximately half of the cells to die due to exposure to blood clotting reactions. Also, the islets – metabolically active cells that require significant blood flow – have problems hooking up to blood vessels once in the body and die off over time.

Georgia Tech and Emory researchers engineered a hydrogel, a material compatible with biological tissues that is a promising therapeutic delivery vehicle. This water-swollen, cross-linked polymer surrounds the insulin-producing cells and protects them during injection. The hydrogel containing the islets was delivered to a new injection site on the outside of the small intestine, thus avoiding direct injection into the blood stream.

Once in the body, the hydrogel degrades in a controlled fashion to release a growth factor protein that promotes blood vessel formation and connection of the transplanted islets to these new vessels. In the study, the blood vessels effectively grew into the biomaterial and successfully connected to the insulin-producing cells.

Four weeks after the transplantation, diabetic mice treated with the hydrogel had normal glucose levels, and the delivered islets were alive and vascularized to the same extent as islets in a healthy mouse pancreas. The technique also required fewer islets than previous transplantation attempts, which may allow doctors to treat more patients with limited donor samples. Currently, donor cells from two to three cadavers are needed for one patient.

While the new biomaterial and injection technique is promising, the study used genetically identical mice and therefore did not address immune rejection issues common to human applications. The research team has funding from JDRF to study whether an immune barrier they created will allow the cells to be accepted in genetically different mice models. If successful, the trials could move to larger animals.

 “We broke up our strategy into two steps,” said Garcia, a member of Georgia Tech's Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. “We have shown that when delivered in the material we engineered, the islets will survive and graft. Now we must address immune acceptance issues.”

Most people with Type 1 diabetes currently manage their blood glucose levels with multiple daily insulin injections or by using an insulin pump. But insulin therapy has limitations. It requires careful measurement of blood glucose levels, accurate dosage calculations and regular compliance to be effective.

This work was also funded by the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center at Georgia Tech and Emory, and the Atlanta Clinical and Translation Science Institute under PHS grant UL RR025008 from the Clinical and Translational Science Award Program.

The Center for Pediatric Healthcare Technology Innovation at Georgia Tech, the Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review Program and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Grant R01 DK076801-01) helped fund the project as well. 

CITATION: Edward A. Phelps, Devon M. Headen, W. Robert Taylor, Peter M. Thule and Andrés J. Garcia. Vasculogenic Bio-Synthetic Hydrogel for Enchancement of Pancreatic Islet Engraftment and Function in Type 1 Diabetes, Biomaterials, June 2013, Pages 4602-4611.

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1367930930 2013-05-07 12:48:50 1475896452 2016-10-08 03:14:12 0 0 news Researchers have made a significant first step with newly engineered biomaterials for cell transplantation that could help lead to a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes, which affects about 3 million Americans. 

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2013-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2013-05-08 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
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Jason Maderer
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404-660-2926

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211761 211761 image <![CDATA[Professor Andrés Garcia - Hydrogel as possible diabetes treatment]]> image/jpeg 1449180039 2015-12-03 22:00:39 1475894874 2016-10-08 02:47:54 <![CDATA[Emory University]]> <![CDATA[George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering]]>
<![CDATA[Pathway Competition Affects Early Differentiation of Higher Brain Structures]]> 27303 Sand-dwelling and rock-dwelling cichlids living in East Africa’s Lake Malawi share a nearly identical genome, but have very different personalities. The territorial rock-dwellers live in communities where social interactions are important, while the sand-dwellers are itinerant and less aggressive.

Those behavioral differences likely arise from a complex region of the brain known as the telencephalon, which governs communication, emotion, movement and memory in vertebrates – including humans, where a major portion of the telencephalon is known as the cerebral cortex. A study published this week in the journal Nature Communications shows how the strength and timing of competing molecular signals during brain development has generated natural and presumably adaptive differences in the telencephalon much earlier than scientists had previously believed.

In the study, researchers first identified key differences in gene expression between rock- and sand-dweller brains during development, and then used small molecules to manipulate developmental pathways to mimic natural diversity.

“We have shown that the evolutionary changes in the brains of these fishes occur really early in development,” said Todd Streelman, an associate professor in the School of Biology and the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “It’s generally been thought that early development of the brain must be strongly buffered against change. Our data suggest that rock-dweller brains differ from sand-dweller brains – before there is a brain.”

For humans, the research could lead scientists to look for subtle changes in brain structures earlier in the development process. This could provide a better understanding of how disorders such as autism and schizophrenia could arise during very early brain development.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and published online April 23 by the journal.

“We want to understand how the telencephalon evolves by looking at genetics and developmental pathways in closely-related species from natural populations,” said Jonathan Sylvester, a postdoctoral researcher in the Georgia Tech School of Biology and lead author of the paper. “Adult cichlids have a tremendous amount of variation within the telencephalon, and we investigated the timing and cause of these differences. Unlike many previous studies in laboratory model organisms that focus on large, qualitative effects from knocking out single genes, we demonstrated that brain diversity evolves through quantitative tuning of multiple pathways.”

In examining the fish from embryos to adulthood, the researchers found that the mbuna, or rock-dwellers, tended to exhibit a larger ventral portion of the telencephalon, called the subpallium – while the sand-dwellers tended to have a larger version of the dorsal structure known as the pallium. These structures seem to have evolved differently over time to meet the behavioral and ecological needs of the fishes. The team showed that early variation in the activity of developmental signals expressed as complementary dorsal-ventral gradients, known technically as “Wingless” and “Hedgehog,” are involved in creating those differences during the neural plate stage, as a single sheet of neural tissue folds to form the neural tube.  

To specifically manipulate those two pathways, Sylvester removed clutches of between 20 and 40 eggs from brooding female cichlids, which normally incubate fertilized eggs in their mouths. At about 36 to 48 hours after fertilization, groups of eggs were exposed to small-molecule chemicals that either strengthened or weakened the Hedgehog signal, or strengthened or weakened the Wingless signal. The chemical treatment came while the structures that would become the brain were little more than a sheet of cells. After treatment, water containing the chemicals was replaced with fresh water, and the embryos were allowed to continue their development.

“We were able to artificially manipulate these pathways in a way that we think evolution might have worked to shift the process of rock-dweller telencephalon development to sand-dweller development, and vice-versa. Treatment with small molecules allows us incredible temporal and dose precision in manipulating natural development,” Sylvester explained. “We then followed the development of the embryos until we were able to measure the anatomical structures – the size of the pallium and subpallium – to see that we had transformed one to the other.”

The two different brain regions, the dorsal pallium and ventral subpallium, give rise to excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the forebrain. Altering the relative sizes of these regions might change the balance between these neuronal types, ultimately producing behavioral changes in the adult fish.

“Evolution has fine-tuned some of these developmental mechanisms to produce diversity,” Streelman said. “In this study, we have figured out which ones.”

The researchers studied six different species of East African cichlids, and also worked with collaborators at King’s College in London to apply similar techniques in the zebrafish.

As a next step, the researchers would like to follow the embryos through to adulthood to see if the changes seen in embryonic and juvenile brain structures actually do change behavior of adults. It’s possible, said Streelman, that later developmental events could compensate for the early differences.

The results could be of interest to scientists investigating human neurological disorders that result from an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Those disorders include autism and schizophrenia. “We think it is particularly interesting that there may be some adaptive variation in the natural proportions of excitatory versus inhibitory neurons in the species we study, correlated with their natural behavioral differences,” said Streelman.

In addition to the researchers already mentioned, the study included undergraduate coauthors Constance Rich and Chuyong Yi from Georgia Tech, and Joao Peres and Corinne Houart from King’s College in London. Rich is presently in the neuroscience PhD program at the University of Cambridge.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grants IOS 0922964 and IOS 1146275. The findings and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.

CITATION: Sylvester, J.B., et al., “Competing Signals Drive Telencephalon Diversity,” (Nature Communications, 2013).

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]]> John Toon 1 1366981781 2013-04-26 13:09:41 1475896448 2016-10-08 03:14:08 0 0 news A new study in fish shows how the strength and timing of competing molecular signals during brain development has generated natural and presumably adaptive differences in a brain region known as the telencephalon -- much earlier than scientists had previously believed.

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2013-04-26T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-26T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-26 00:00:00 John Toon

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(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Sea Turtles and FlipperBot Show How to Walk on Granular Surfaces like Sand]]> 27303 For sea turtle hatchlings struggling to reach the ocean, success may depend on having flexible wrists that allow them to move without disturbing too much sand. A similar wrist also helps a robot known as “FlipperBot” move through a test bed, demonstrating how animals and bio-inspired robots can together provide new information on the principles governing locomotion on granular surfaces.

Both the baby turtles and FlipperBot run into trouble under the same conditions: traversing granular media disturbed by previous steps. Information from the robot research helped scientists understand why some of the hatchlings they studied experienced trouble, creating a unique feedback loop from animal to robot – and back to animal.

The research could help robot designers better understand locomotion on complex surfaces and lead biologists to a clearer picture of how sea turtles and other animals like mudskippers use their flippers. The research could also help explain how animals evolved limbs – including flippers – for walking on land.

The research was published April 24 in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Program, the U.S. Army Research Office, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

“We are looking at different ways that robots can move about on sand,” said Daniel Goldman, an associate professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We wanted to make a systematic study of what makes flippers useful or effective. We’ve learned that the flow of the materials plays a large role in the strategy that can be used by either animals or robots.”

The research began in 2010 with a six-week study of hatchling loggerhead sea turtles emerging at night from nests on Jekyll Island, one of Georgia’s coastal islands. The research was done in collaboration with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Nicole Mazouchova, then a graduate student in the Georgia Tech School of Biology, studied the baby turtles using a trackway filled with beach sand and housed in a truck parked near the beach. She recorded kinematic and biomechanical data as the turtles moved in darkness toward an LED light that simulated the moon.

Mazouchova and Goldman studied data from the 25 hatchlings, and were surprised to learn that they managed to maintain their speed regardless of the surface on which they were running.

“On soft sand, the animals move their limbs in such a way that they don’t create a yielding of the material on which they’re walking,” said Goldman. “That means the material doesn’t flow around the limbs and they don’t slip. The surprising thing to us was that the turtles had comparable performance when they were running on hard ground or soft sand.”

The key to maintaining performance seemed to be the ability of the hatchlings to control their wrists, allowing them to change how they used their flippers under different sand conditions.

“On hard ground, their wrists locked in place, and they pivoted about a fixed arm,” Goldman explained. “On soft sand, they put their flippers into the sand and the wrist would bend as they moved forward. We decided to investigate this using a robot model.”

That led to development of FlipperBot, with assistance from Paul Umbanhowar, a research associate professor at Northwestern University. The robot measures about 19 centimeters in length, weighs about 970 grams, and has two flippers driven by servo-motors. Like the turtles, the robot has flexible wrists that allow variations in its movement. To move through a track bed filled with poppy seeds that simulate sand, the robot lifts its flippers up, drops them into the seeds, then moves the flippers backward to propel itself.

Mazouchova, now a Ph.D. student at Temple University, studied many variations of gait and wrist position and found that the free-moving mechanical wrist also provided an advantage to the robot.

“In the robot, the free wrist does provide some advantage,” said Goldman. “For the most part, the wrist confers advantage for moving forward without slipping. The wrist flexibility minimizes material yielding, which disturbs less ground. The flexible wrist also allows both the robot and turtles to maintain a high angle of attack for their bodies, which reduces performance-impeding drag from belly friction.”

The researchers also noted that the robot often failed when limbs encountered material that the same limbs had already disturbed. That led them to re-examine the data collected on the hatchling turtles, some of which had also experienced difficulty walking across the soft sand.

“When we saw the turtles moving poorly, they appeared to be suffering from the same failure mode that we saw in the robot,” Goldman explained. “When they interacted with materials that had been previously disturbed, they tended to lose performance.”

Mazouchova and Goldman then worked with Umbanhowar to model the robot’s performance in an effort to predict how the turtle hatchlings should respond to different conditions. The predictions closely matched what was actually observed, closing the loop between robot and animal.

“The robot study allowed us to test how principles applied to the animals,” Goldman said.

While the results may not directly improve robot designs, what the researchers learned should contribute to a better understanding of the principles governing movement using flippers. That would be useful to the designers of robots that must swim through water and walk on land.

“A multi-modal robot might need to use paddles for swimming in water, but it might also need to walk in an effective way on the beach,” Goldman said. “This work can provide fundamental information on what makes flippers good or bad. This information could give robot designers clues to appendage designs and control techniques for robots moving in these environments.”

The research could ultimately provide clues to how turtles evolved to walk on land with appendages designed for swimming.

“To understand the mechanics of how the first terrestrial animals moved, you have to understand how their flipper-like limbs interacted with complex, yielding substrates like mud flats,” said Goldman. “We don’t have solid results on the evolutionary questions yet, but this certainly points to a way that we could address these issues.”

This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation under grant CMMI-0825480 and the Physics of Living Systems PoLS program, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL) Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Program under cooperative agreement W911NF-08-2-0004, the U.S. Army Research Office (ARO) and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award. Any conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF, ARL or ARO.

CITATION: Nicole Mazouchova, Paul B. Umbanhowar and Daniel I. Goldman, “Flipper-driven terrestrial locomotion of a sea turtle-inspired robot, (Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2013).

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Writer: John Toon

 

]]> John Toon 1 1366735945 2013-04-23 16:52:25 1475896448 2016-10-08 03:14:08 0 0 news Based on a study of both hatchling sea turtles and "FlipperBot" -- a robot with flippers -- researchers have learned principles for how both robots and turtles move on granular surfaces such as sand.

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2013-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-23 00:00:00 John Toon

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jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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<![CDATA[Creative Assignments Lead to Teaching Success]]> 27445 Steve Potter never wanted to be a conventional professor.

So he requires students to write Wikipedia articles. He encourages them to dream up their own ideas for extra credit. And he learns every student’s name, even in large lectures.

“The lessons that stick with students over time are the ones that take them outside of their comfort zones,” said Potter, an associate professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering who has taught at Georgia Tech since 2002.

Recently, Potter’s atypical techniques helped earn him the 2013 Teaching Excellence Award, given by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

“I tell my students  exactly what they need to do to succeed in my class, meaning that I lay out — in great detail — what it takes to get an A,” he said. “And then I do my best to raise their excitement and motivation to a level that makes all that work seem like fun.”

For example, for his introductory neuroscience course, Potter asks students to select a specific topic in the neuroscience field and become an expert on it by reading research papers and interviewing engineers and scientists working in the field.

Once they’ve done their due diligence, students are asked to create a Wikipedia article about their neuro-related topic to demonstrate understanding and to share what they’ve learned with classmates and the general public. Students are also asked to produce a YouTube video summarizing research results from a study, so they can be understood by the general public.

“One student decided to bring together Kermit the Frog and Stewie from Family Guy to interview a researcher about basal ganglia disorders,” Potter added.

And they read and review books on Amazon that are related to their respective topics. Their peers, similar to a grant application review board, then critique the reviews.

“Dr. Potter is an excellent teacher and his introductory course was my favorite at Tech,” said Devon King, a fourth year biomedical engineering major. “It is a challenging course, but in the ‘I get to do this’ way instead of the ‘I have to do this’ way. I always looked forward to going to his class, and I think other students did too.”

Read on to learn more about Potter and his time at Tech.

Tell us something that others might not know about your job.          
Unlike many courses where the subject matter is well understood, neuroscience is still in its infancy and is dominated by our pretty sketchy understanding of the brain. As a consequence, I never try to convince my students of any “truths” but merely emphasize how even a limited understanding can be useful in treating some disease or disorder of the nervous system.

What is one thing you’ve learned from your students?       
There are many different learning styles. It helps to try a variety of teaching approaches, so each student will have something that works for them.

Would you ever teach a massive open online course (MOOC)? Why or why not?      
It’s a possibility, but the university needs to come up with new compensation models to make this worth my while.

Where is your favorite place to eat lunch?
My office, and I usually eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich. But on those rare occasions when I have a social lunch, I really love the menu of the Coffee Snob in IBB.  

What is the best advice you’ve ever heard?    
Henry Ford once said, “Believe you can, believe you can’t: either way you are right.”

Tell us something about yourself that others might not know.  
I had a very rough childhood from age 8 on, because my parents split up. The adversity required me to cope through optimism. Poverty taught me to really appreciate things and also to be resourceful. For example, I loved to mine the dumpsters for old TVs that could be fixed by just replacing one vacuum tube.

]]> Amelia Pavlik 1 1366039308 2013-04-15 15:21:48 1475896444 2016-10-08 03:14:04 0 0 news Steve Potter never wanted to be a conventional professor.

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2013-04-15T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-15T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-15 00:00:00 Amelia Pavlik
Institute Communications
404-385-4142

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<![CDATA[Surface Diffusion Plays a Key Role in Defining the Shapes of Catalytic Nanoparticles]]> 27303 Controlling the shapes of nanometer-sized catalytic and electrocatalytic particles made from noble metals such as platinum and palladium may be more complicated than previously thought.

Using systematic experiments, researchers have investigated how surface diffusion – a process in which atoms move from one site to another on nanoscale surfaces – affects the final shape of the particles. The issue is important for a wide range of applications that use specific shapes to optimize the activity and selectivity of nanoparticles, including catalytic converters, fuel cell technology, chemical catalysis and plasmonics.

Results of the research could lead to a better understanding of how to manage the diffusion process by controlling the reaction temperature and deposition rate, or by introducing structural barriers designed to hinder the surface movement of atoms.

“We want to be able to design the synthesis to produce nanoparticles with the exact shape we want for each specific application,” said Younan Xia, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “Fundamentally, it is important to understand how these shapes are formed, to visualize how this happens on structures over a length scale of about 100 atoms.”

The research was reported April 8 in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Controlling the shape of nanoparticles is important in catalysis and other applications that require the use of expensive noble metals such as platinum and palladium. For example, optimizing the shape of platinum nanoparticles can substantially enhance their catalytic activity, reducing demand for the precious material, noted Xia, who is a Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) eminent scholar in nanomedicine. Xia also holds joint appointments in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech.

“Controlling the shape is very important to tuning the activity of catalysts and in minimizing the loading of the catalysts,” he said. “Shape control is also very important in plasmonic applications, where the shape controls where optical absorption and scattering peaks are positioned. Shape is also important to determining where the electrical charges will be concentrated on nanoparticles.”

Though the importance of particle shape at the nanoscale has been well known, researchers hadn’t before understood the importance of surface diffusion in creating the final particle shape.

Adding atoms to the corners of platinum cubes, for instance, can create particles with protruding “arms” that increase the catalytic activity. Convex surfaces on cubic particles may also provide better performance. But those advantageous shapes must be created and maintained.

Natural energetic preferences related to the arrangement of atoms on the tiny structures favor a spherical shape that is not ideal for most catalysts, fuel cells and other applications.  

In their research, Xia and his collaborators varied the temperature of the process used to deposit atoms onto metallic nanocrystals that acted as seeds for the nanoparticles. They also varied the rates at which atoms were deposited onto the surfaces, which were determined by the injection rate at which a chemical precursor material was introduced. The diffusion rate is determined by the temperature, with higher temperatures allowing the atoms to move around faster on the nanoparticle surfaces. In the research, bromide ions were used to limit the movement of the added atoms from one portion of the particle to another.

Using transmission electron microscopy, the researchers observed the structures that were formed under different conditions. Ultimately, they found that the ratio of the deposition rate to the diffusion rate determines the final shape. When the ratio is greater than one, the adsorbed atoms tend to stay where they are placed. If the ratio is less than one, they tend to move.

“Unless the atomic reaction is at absolute zero, you will always have some diffusion,” said Xia, who holds the Brock Family Chair in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “But if you can add atoms to the surface in the places that you want them faster than they can diffuse, you can control the final destination for the atoms.”

Xia believes the research may also lead to improved techniques for preserving the unique shapes of nanoparticles even at high operating temperatures.

“Fundamentally, it is very useful for people to know how these shapes are formed,” he said. “Most of these structures had been observed before, but people did not understand why they formed under certain conditions. To do that, we need to be able to visualize what happens on these tiny structures.”

Xia’s research team also studied the impact of diffusion on bi-metallic particles composed of both palladium and platinum. The combination can enhance certain properties, and because palladium is currently less expensive than platinum, using a core of palladium covered by a thin layer of platinum provides the catalytic activity of platinum while reducing cost.

In that instance, surface diffusion can be helpful in covering the palladium surface with a single monolayer of the platinum. Only the surface platinum atoms will be able to provide the catalytic properties, while the palladium core only serves as a support.

The research is part of a long-term study of catalytic nanoparticles being conducted by Xia’s research group. Other aspects of the team’s work addresses biomedical uses of nanoparticles in such areas as cancer therapy.

“We are very excited by this result because it is generic and can apply to understand and control diffusion on the surfaces of many systems,” Xia added. “Ultimately we want to see how we can take advantage of this diffusion to improve the catalytic and optical properties of these nanoparticles.”

The research team also included Xiaohu Xia, Shuifen Xie, Maochang Liu and Hsin-Chieh Peng at Georgia Tech; and Ning Lu, Jinguo Wang and Professor Moon J. Kim at the University of Texas at Dallas.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant DMR-1215034 and by startup funds from Georgia Tech. Any conclusions expressed are those of the principal investigator and may not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.

CITATION: Xia, Xiaohu, et al., “On the role of surface diffusion in determining the shape or morphology of noble-metal nanocrystals,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 2013). http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/04/05/1222109110

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
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Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181  USA

Media Relations Contact:  John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1365504014 2013-04-09 10:40:14 1475896439 2016-10-08 03:13:59 0 0 news Controlling the shapes of nanometer-sized catalytic and electrocatalytic particles made from noble metals such as platinum and palladium may be more complicated than previously thought.

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2013-04-09T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-09T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-09 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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205451 205451 image <![CDATA[Surface diffusion in nanocatalysts]]> image/jpeg 1449179977 2015-12-03 21:59:37 1475894861 2016-10-08 02:47:41
<![CDATA[Executive Vice President for Research Offers Strategic Plan Updates]]> 27299 At the end of the spring 2012 semester, the Strategic Plan Implementation Steering Committee (SPISC) successfully completed its direction of the work of the 16 task forces charged with developing initiatives for elements of the Institute’s Strategic Plan.

Investments have since been made in several efforts to fulfill the SPISC’s final recommendations. This year, the Institute has provided supplemental funding of approximately $2 million from both state and Georgia Tech Foundation resources to augment new work undertaken by units across the Institute, made possible through the prioritization of their own budgets. Projects are moving forward, embedded in the operating units responsible for piloting new ideas. The following links provide more information on the projects and activities the EVPR’s Office is heavily involved or taking a lead.

2010-2011 Strategic Initiatives

2011-2012 Strategic Initiatives

]]> Michael Hagearty 1 1365427409 2013-04-08 13:23:29 1475896439 2016-10-08 03:13:59 0 0 news The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research has released a summary of the strategic plan-related projects and activities in which the EVPR’s Office is heavily involved or taking a lead.

]]>
2013-04-08T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-08T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-08 00:00:00 Kirk Englehardt
Institute Communications
404-894-6015

]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Strategic Vision]]>
<![CDATA[Adhesive Differences Enable Separation of Stem Cells to Advance Potential Therapies]]> 27303 A new separation process that depends on an easily-distinguished physical difference in adhesive forces among cells could help expand production of stem cells generated through cell reprogramming. By facilitating new research, the separation process could also lead to improvements in the reprogramming technique itself and help scientists model certain disease processes.

The reprogramming technique allows a small percentage of cells – often taken from the skin or blood – to become human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) capable of producing a wide range of other cell types. Using cells taken from a patient’s own body, the reprogramming technique might one day enable regenerative therapies that could, for example, provide new heart cells for treating cardiovascular disorders or new neurons for treating Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

But the cell reprogramming technique is inefficient, generating mixtures in which the cells of interest make up just a small percentage of the total volume. Separating out the pluripotent stem cells is now time-consuming and requires a level of skill that could limit use of the technique – and hold back the potential therapies.

To address the problem, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have demonstrated a tunable process that separates cells according to the degree to which they adhere to a substrate inside a tiny microfluidic device. The adhesion properties of the hiPSCs differ significantly from those of the cells with which they are mixed, allowing the potentially-therapeutic cells to be separated to as much as 99 percent purity.

The high-throughput separation process, which takes less than 10 minutes to perform, does not rely on labeling technologies such as antibodies. Because it allows separation of intact cell colonies, it avoids damaging the cells, allowing a cell survival rate greater than 80 percent. The resulting cells retain normal transcriptional profiles, differentiation potential and karyotype.

“The principle of the separation is based on the physical phenomenon of adhesion strength, which is controlled by the underlying biology,” said Andrés García, the study’s principal investigator and a professor in Georgia Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. “This is a very powerful platform technology because it is easy to implement and easy to scale up.”

The separation process was described April 7 in the advance online publication of the journal Nature Methods. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), supplemented by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“The scientists applied their new understanding of the adhesive properties of human pluripotent stem cells to develop a quick, efficient method for isolating these medically important cells,” said Paula Flicker, of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partly funded the research. “Their work represents an innovative conversion of basic biological findings into a strategy with therapeutic potential.”  

An improved separation technique is essential for converting the human induced pluripotent stem cells produced by reprogramming into viable therapies, said Todd McDevitt, an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and director of Georgia Tech’s Stem Cell Engineering Center.

“For research purposes, depending on labeling reagents for separation is not a major problem,” said McDevitt, one of the paper’s co-authors. “But when we move into commercialization and manufacturing of cell therapies for humans, we need a technology approach that is unbiased and able to be scaled up.”

The separation technique, called micro stem cell high-efficiency adhesion-based recovery (µSHEAR), will allow standardization across laboratories, providing consistent results that don’t depend on the skill level of the users.  “Because of the engineering and technology involved, and the characterization work, we now have a technology that is readily transferrable,” McDevitt said.

The µSHEAR process grew out of an understanding of how cells involved in the reprogramming process change morphologically as the process proceeds. Using a spinning disk device, the researchers tested the adhesive properties of the hiPSCs, the parental somatic cells, partially-reprogrammed cells and reprogrammed cells that had begun differentiating. For each cell type, they measured its “adhesive signature” – the level of force required to detach the cells from a substrate that had been coated with specific proteins.   

The research team, which included Georgia Tech postdoctoral fellows Ankur Singh and Shalu Suri, tested their technique in microfluidic devices developed in collaboration with Hang Lu, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

In the testing, cells from the culture were first allowed to attach to the substrate before being subjected to the flow of buffer fluid. Cells with a lower adhesive signature detached from the substrate at lower flow rates. By varying the flow rate, the researchers were able to separate specific types of cells, allowing production of stem cell cultures with purity as high as 99 percent – from mixtures in which those cells accounted for only a few percent of the total.

“At different stages of reprogramming, we see differences in the molecular composition and distribution of the cellular structures that control adhesion force,” García explained. “Once we know the range of adhesive forces for each cell type, we can apply those narrow ranges to select the populations that come off in each range.”

Using inexpensive disposable “cassettes,” the microfluidic system could be scaled up to increase the volume of cells produced and to provide specific separations, García noted.

Unlike existing labeling techniques, the new separation process works on cell colonies, avoiding the need to risk damaging cells by breaking up colonies for separation. The separation process has been tested with both reprogrammed blood and skin cells. Cells were provided for testing by ArunA Biomedical, a company based in Athens, Ga., founded by University of Georgia professor Steven Stice.

Beyond the direct application in producing stem cells, the separation technique could also help scientists with other research in which cells need to be separated – including potential improvements in the reprogramming technique, which won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2012.

“Cell reprogramming has been a black box,” said McDevitt. “You start the reprogramming process, and when the cells are fully reprogrammed, you can pick them out visually. But there are really interesting scientific questions about this process, and by isolating cells undergoing reprogramming, we may be able to make new discoveries about how the process occurs.”

In addition to those already mentioned, the project also included graduate student Ted Lee and research technician Marissa Cooke of Georgia Tech, researcher Jamie Chilton of ArunA, and Weiqiang Chen and Jianping Fu of the University of Michigan.

This work was supported by an ARRA supplement to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards R01 GM065918 and R43 NS080407, the Stem Cell Engineering Center at Georgia Tech, a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, by the National Science Foundation under award DBI-0649833 and an ARRA sub-award under grant RC1CA144825, and by NSF award CMMI-1129611, the Georgia Tech-Emory Center for Regenerative Medicine (GTEC) and the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech. Any conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official positions of the NIH or NSF.

CITATION: Singh, Ankur, et al., “Adhesion strength–based, label-free isolation of human pluripotent stem cells,” (Nature Methods, 2013). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.2437

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1365331607 2013-04-07 10:46:47 1475896439 2016-10-08 03:13:59 0 0 news A new separation process that depends on an easily-distinguished physical difference in adhesive forces among cells could help expand production of stem cells generated through cell reprogramming. By facilitating new research, the separation process could also lead to improvements in the reprogramming technique itself and help scientists model certain disease processes.

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2013-04-07T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-07T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-07 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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204931 204961 204921 204951 204981 204931 image <![CDATA[Stem cell separation microfluidics1]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894861 2016-10-08 02:47:41 204961 image <![CDATA[Stem cell separation device closeup]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894861 2016-10-08 02:47:41 204921 image <![CDATA[Stem cell separation researchers]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894861 2016-10-08 02:47:41 204951 image <![CDATA[Stem cell separation microfluidics2]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894861 2016-10-08 02:47:41 204981 image <![CDATA[Stem cell separation human fibroblast cells]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894861 2016-10-08 02:47:41
<![CDATA[Project Will Improve Heat Dissipation in 3-D Microelectronic Systems]]> 27303 Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have won a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to develop three-dimensional chip-cooling technology able to handle heat loads as much as ten times greater than systems commonly used today.

In addition to higher overall chip heat dissipation demands, the new approach will also have to handle on-chip hot-spots that dissipate considerably more power per unit area than the remainder of the device. Such cooling demands may be needed for future generations of high-performance integrated circuits embedded in a wide range of military equipment.

“There is really no good way to address this heat dissipation need with existing technology, and the problem is getting worse because computing power is increasing and the capabilities being put on chips are expanding,” said Yogendra Joshi, a professor in Georgia Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the project’s principal investigator. “There is a real need for developing schemes that can address high power on the whole chip coupled with very high power dissipation areas that are only a few millimeters square.”

DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, which provided the three-year $2.9 million contract, is seeking techniques to dissipate heat of as much as one kilowatt per square centimeter in the overall integrated circuit, and five kilowatts per square centimeter on smaller areas. The research is part of DARPA’s Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool) program.

“The approaches that we are talking about are relatively high-risk,” said Joshi, who specializes in electronic cooling from the chip-level on up to full-sized data centers. “They have not been tried before, so there are real questions of reliability – whether they can hold up under repeated cycles of being powered up and powered down.”

In addition to Joshi, the research team includes:

While applications for the high-powered chips aren’t specified, their installation in systems intended for field use will add to the level of challenge.

“For speed and performance issues, this computing power may be embedded where it is needed in the field,” Joshi said. “The challenges of cooling these high performance integrated circuits will be even more challenging because they will operate in environments that may be adverse compared to an office or computer room situation.”

Among the significant challenges ahead are:

“It is well known that cooling constraints play a critical role in designing electronic systems,” said Bakir. “Often a favorable electronic system configuration may not be realizable due to lack of adequate cooling. The novel microscale thermal technologies that will result from this project will address the most demanding thermal needs of future heterogeneous 3-D nanoelectronic systems and will enable new levels of performance and energy efficiency.”

Beyond the technology challenges, the researchers will also need to develop a detailed and fundamental understanding of how liquids boil at the micron size scale.

“The physics of how liquids boil has been well studied for large systems such as power plant boilers,” Joshi noted. “What we are talking about here is boiling that will take place in passages that are produced by microfabrication techniques that may be only 50 micrometers by 50 micrometers. The physics of what will be going on there is very different than what happens at the large scale, and how these liquids boil in the passages of interest will result in new scientific insights.”

Selecting an appropriate coolant able to provide the necessary phase change performance – while not damaging the silicon chips – will be part of the project. In an earlier research program supported by the Office of Naval Research, Georgia Tech developed new coolant candidates that will be considered along with traditional dielectric fluids.

The research will be done in collaboration with industry partner Rockwell-Collins, a major manufacturer of electronic systems for the military. That collaboration will help ensure that solutions developed will be compatible with defense system requirements.

“The challenges for material characterization and physics-based modeling are to consider the larger features of the electronic system without overlooking the micrometer and sub-micrometer scale features that are the main locations for fracture and failure,” said Sitaraman. “Mechanical characterization and physics-based modeling will be important to understanding the reliability of microelectronic systems operating with fluid passages.”

Beyond meeting the project requirements, the research will produce technology advances that should be broadly useful for future microsystems.

“The technologies we have proposed aim to explore uncharted territory in multiple science and technology domains to bring about an order-of-magnitude improvement in the current state-of-the-art,” said Fedorov. “The project represents a significant challenge on the most fundamental level of materials and fluid behavior down to the sub-micron scale. We’re confident that this project will produce some really new technologies to address the needs of future 3-D microsystems.”

This research is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under contract HR0011-13-2-0008. Any conclusions or opinions expressed in this article are those of the principal investigator and do not necessarily represent the official views of DARPA.

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1364896144 2013-04-02 09:49:04 1475896439 2016-10-08 03:13:59 0 0 news Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have won a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to develop three-dimensional chip cooling technology able to handle heat loads as much as ten times greater than systems commonly used today.

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2013-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-02 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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203761 203761 image <![CDATA[3D Cooling]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894859 2016-10-08 02:47:39
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Researchers Attend White House Event Announcing New BRAIN Initiative]]> 27224 President Barack Obama today announced a major new commitment to fund research to map the activity of the human brain. The goal of this grand challenge project is to develop new technologies that reveal in real time how brain cells and neural circuits interact to process information. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative will be launched with $100 million in the President's FY 2014 Budget.

Two researchers from Georgia Tech were invited by the White House to hear the announcement live. Robert E. Guldberg, executive director for the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and mechanical engineering professor along with Craig Forest, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, were present to hear President Obama’s pledge.

“To hear the President’s announcement was exciting," Guldberg said. “Neuroengineering is a major strength at Georgia Tech and along with our state-wide partners, we are well poised to make significant contributions to this new initiative."

The project is modeled after previous scientific grant challenges, such as the Human Genome Project which mapped the human genome. Francis Collins, director, National Institute of Health, called the potential advancements from this research the next “greatest scientific frontier.”

Unlocking the human brain has the potential to impact dozens of diseases including, Parkinson’s disease, eye diseases, mental health, traumatic brain injury, to name just a few. The NIH committed $40 million from its budget for the project and other government agencies, including the National Science Foundation as well as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency also made commitments. Additional funds will come from foundations and other non-profits.

“BRAIN represents a massive challenge across an interdisciplinary spectrum, for example, neuroengineering tool development, neuroscientific interpretation of the deluge of data to arise, and computing challenges in storage and processing,” said Forest who is currently conducting research in this area. “The magnitude of the undertaking by mankind is analogous to the Apollo Space Program or Manhattan Project in its breadth, depth, technical complexity and the need for large teams focused on ‘big science.’”

Forest recently collaborated with MIT to develop a way to automate the process of finding and recording information from individual neurons in the living brain. He was featured on CNN earlier this week for this work.

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1364908587 2013-04-02 13:16:27 1475896439 2016-10-08 03:13:59 0 0 news President Barack Obama today announced a major new commitment to fund research to map the activity of the human brain. The goal of this grand challenge project is to develop new technologies that reveal in real time how brain cells and neural circuits interact to process information. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative will be launched with $100 million in the President's FY 2014 Budget.

]]>
2013-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-02 00:00:00 Megan Graziano McDevitt

Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

Georgia Institute of Technology

]]>
203911 204051 204061 203911 image <![CDATA[Obama BRAIN Announcement]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894859 2016-10-08 02:47:39 204051 image <![CDATA[Bob Guldberg at the White House]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894859 2016-10-08 02:47:39 204061 image <![CDATA[White House Brain Mapping Press Conference]]> image/jpeg 1449179967 2015-12-03 21:59:27 1475894859 2016-10-08 02:47:39 <![CDATA[Neural Recordings: Robot Reveals the Inner Workings of Brain Cells]]> <![CDATA[Forest Featured on CNN]]> <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[Hang Lu Delivers 2013 Saville Lectureship]]> 27741 On Wednesday, March 27, Hang Lu, Associate Professor and James R. Fair Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, delivered the 2013 Dudley A. Saville Lectureship at Princeton University. Her lecture was titled “Microtechnologies for High-throughput High-content Developmental Biology and Neurogenetics.”

Lu's lab is interested in engineering micro systems to address questions in systems neuroscience, developmental biology, and cell biology that are difficult to answer with conventional techniques. Microtechnologies provide the appropriate length scale for investigating molecules, cells, and small organisms; moreover, one can also take advantage of unique phenomena associated with small-scale flow and field effects, as well as unprecedented parallelization and automation, to gather quantitative and large-scale data about complex biological systems.

Her lecture showed microfluidic systems coupled with artificial intelligence for automated high-resolution imaging and high-throughput genetic screens in C. elegans, as well as chips for imaging embryos and cells for developmental and functional studies.  She presented micro systems for optogenetic experiments to dissect the function of neural circuits and behavioral output. Lu’s research group’s methods enable such systems level studies 100-1,000 times faster than traditionally done and, in many occasions, yield unique quantitative data that cannot be obtained otherwise.

Princeton University’s Department of Chemical Engineering established the Dudley A. Saville Lectureship for exceptional early-career chemical engineers and scientists. Inspired by his family and colleagues, this series reflects Dudley Saville’s longtime association with Princeton, his uncompromising pursuit of excellence, and his commitment to helping young people begin their academic careers.

]]> Katie Brown 1 1364812001 2013-04-01 10:26:41 1475896435 2016-10-08 03:13:55 0 0 news 2013-04-01T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-01T00:00:00-04:00 2013-04-01 00:00:00 Katie Brown
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
(404) 385-2299
news@chbe.gatech.edu 

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130251 130251 image <![CDATA[Hang Lu]]> image/jpeg 1449178647 2015-12-03 21:37:27 1475894757 2016-10-08 02:45:57 <![CDATA[Lu lab]]> <![CDATA[Dudley A. Saville Lectureship]]>
<![CDATA[New Nanotechnology Research Study Turns Brain Tumors Blue]]> 27462 Researchers from Georgia Tech and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have developed a technique that assists in identifying tumors from normal brain tissue during surgery by staining tumor cells blue.

The technique could be critically important for hospitals lacking sophisticated equipment in preserving the maximum amount of normal tissue and brain function during surgery.

Published this week in the journal Drug Delivery and Translational Medicine, the research was led by Dr. Barun Brahma, M.D., Children's neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer, and Ravi Bellamkonda, the Carol Ann and David D. Flanagan Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Brahma initially approached the Georgia Tech-based laboratory of Bellamkonda to see if it would be possible to manually distinguish a tumor from normal tissue during surgery without using complex equipment that might be unavailable to some health facilities.

Bellamkonda’s lab developed a nanocarrier made of fat that carried a clinically approved dye called Evans Blue. The team demonstrated that these nanocarriers leak out of blood vessels in the tumor margin and stain brain tumors blue. Using tumor cells injected into a rat brain, the team proved nanocarriers are able to find their way to the brain tumor and selectively dye it blue while excluding normal brain tissue.

The findings are significant for hospitals worldwide that lack machines to help guide tumor removal, such as an intraoperative MRI machine. This new technique could help neurosurgeons remove brain tumors in children more accurately all over the world, the researchers said.

Brahma, Bellamkonda and other collaborators are developing a range of nanotechnologies designed to treat brain tumors and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Other authors on the article include researchers from the Bellamkonda lab and Phil Santangelo, assistant professor and optical imaging expert in the joint biomedical engineering department at Georgia Tech and Emory University. The collaboration embodies the power and potential of the rapidly growing partnership between Children's, Georgia Tech and Emory.

The research effort is in collaboration with the Children's Neurosciences Center. This effort is part of the Emory+Children’s Pediatric Research Center led by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University, including partnerships with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Morehouse School of Medicine. The research was funded by Ian’s Friends Foundation in Atlanta and the Georgia Cancer Coalition. 

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta 
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a not-for-profit organization, is dedicated to making kids better today and healthier tomorrow. The facility’s specialized care helps children get better faster and live healthier lives. Managing more than half a million patient visits annually at three hospitals and 17 neighborhood locations, Children’s is the largest healthcare provider for children in Georgia and one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country. Children’s offers access to more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs and is ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s has made an impact in the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world. Visit www.choa.org for more information.

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1364373303 2013-03-27 08:35:03 1475896435 2016-10-08 03:13:55 0 0 news Georgia Techn and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta announce new technique that increases precision in brain tumor removal.

]]>
2013-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-27 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
laura.diamond@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-660-2926

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202351 202351 image <![CDATA[Staining Tumors Blue]]> image/jpeg 1449179952 2015-12-03 21:59:12 1475894856 2016-10-08 02:47:36 <![CDATA[Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering]]>
<![CDATA[IRI Intros: 5 Questions with Bob Guldberg]]> 27268 You’ve probably heard that Georgia Tech has a number of Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs) – but do you know much about them? 

This article is the second in a series of Q&As to introduce the Tech community to the eight IRIs and their faculty leaders. In this installment, Executive Director Bob Guldberg answers questions about the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.

Q: What is unique about the bioengineering and bioscience community at Georgia Tech and what has made the Petit Institute such a success?

A: Georgia Tech’s Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience was created in 1995 as a new model to facilitate interdisciplinary research among faculty and students from different academic units on campus. The Petit Biotechnology Building was opened in 1999 and was uniquely designed to break down barriers to working across disciplines by creating open research neighborhoods composed of investigators with common collaborative interests – from different schools and colleges.

Over the years, the Petit Institute has grown beyond the walls of the initial building and now serves as the heart of the biotechnology complex. Part of the uniqueness of the Institute lies in the amazing breadth of research, spanning from cancer biotechnologies, regenerative medicine, and drug delivery, to multi-scale biomechanics, molecular biophysics, and chemical biology. The Petit Institute currently supports 16 interdisciplinary research centers focused on applications related to pediatric healthcare, military medicine, cardiovascular disease, stem cell engineering, and even the origins of life itself.    

The Petit Institute's success can be attributed first to a clear mission to add value by catalyzing research and education initiatives at the interface of bioengineering and the biosciences. As one example, the income from our endowment provided through the generosity of alumnus Parker H. “Pete” Petit is used to support collaborative seed grants between faculty from different colleges at Georgia Tech.  We also support a broad range of experimental core facilities, conferences and seminars, industry interactions, student activities, and outreach, combining to create a truly dynamic culture and ecosystem for interdisciplinary research. Another critical element of the Petit Institute's success has been coordination and partnership with participating academic units on campus as well as with external entities such as Emory and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Q: How is the Petit Institute making an impact locally, nationally, and internationally?

A: In the coming decades, our society will face the multifaceted challenges of providing energy, sustainable food sources, and cost-effective, accessible health care for 9 billion people worldwide. The complexity of these challenges will require solutions that draw on research conducted at the intersection of the life sciences, the physical sciences, and engineering: a concept called convergent science that is being promoted by the National Academies and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Petit Institute is actively contributing to these discussions and was recently recognized as a national model for promoting interdisciplinary research and education in partnership with academic departments.

Internationally, the Petit Institute partners with institutions that share our ideology. Through various partnerships, we have held international workshops with researchers in Ireland, China, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Switzerland, Singapore, Norway, Egypt, and Canada, to name a few. Out of those events, research proposals are emerging, and the Petit Institute’s global footprint is continually expanding.

Locally, the Petit Institute acts as a liaison to our thriving local partnerships with the member institutions of the Georgia Research Alliance (Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Regents University, Clark-Atlanta University, and the University of Georgia) as well as other institutions such as Morehouse School of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Shepherd Center and Georgia Bio.    

Q: How does the Petit Institute support interdisciplinary research?

A: An important part of the Petit Institute’s mission is to provide a collaborative culture and environment that catalyzes the formation of new interdisciplinary activities and research centers. The Petit Institute, with its unique environment and entrepreneurial spirit, facilitates collaboration between engineers and scientists to create new opportunities through its seed grant programs, innovative education programs, and staff support of grants, facilities, public relations, proposals, and industry relations. Out of these types of collaboration, true interdisciplinary activities and innovations emerge.

At the core of our community is the shared core facilities, which facilitate and enhance the research taking place throughout the bio-complex. These facilities and their powerful capabilities, allow Georgia Tech researchers to take their interdisciplinary research to the next level, giving Tech a competitive advantage over our peer institutions. As a technology-driven research institute, it is also the Petit Institute’s mission to support the advancement of fundamental knowledge and help drive the translation of new research discoveries into applications that benefit human health and society.

Innovative scientific research in the 21st century requires three critical factors:  the ability to form and deploy teams having diverse skill sets, the availability of state-of-the-art facilities, and the engagement of the world’s brightest minds to understand and solve complex research problems. The Petit Institute, through its faculty, trainees, and partners, is fortunate to possess all of these essential ingredients. There are now over 140 faculty and nearly 1,000 graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral fellows who make up and contribute to the Petit Institute community. 

Q: How does the Petit Institute support education throughout the bio-community?

A: The Petit Institute supports nontraditional education programs in a variety of ways and focuses on providing opportunities and experiences for students at all levels that extend beyond formal courses, integrating science and engineering principles into educational experiences.  

Although the Petit Institute is not a school or department with traditional classes, we are involved in graduate student education on many levels. The Petit Institute invests in education experiences to support the bio-community's growing graduate student population. For instance, the Petit Institute is home to four research training grants that provide scholarships, fellowships, or stipends for graduate and postdoctoral fellows. Graduate students who are supported by training grants often get to experience deeper relationships with industry through internships and often develop an understanding of a specific field – all while building their life experiences. The Petit Institute is also the administrative home for both the Bioengineering Graduate Program and the Bioinformatics Graduate Program.

In addition, the Petit Institute is home to the Bioengineering and Bioscience Unified Graduate Students (BBUGS) group. The Petit Institute supports this group, which organizes over 30 of their own events each year as well as provides graduate students with a more well-rounded training experience, integrating social, policy, and industry activities into the classroom and lab work.

The Petit Institute is also supportive of undergraduate initiatives, one of which is the Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, a competitive scholarship program for top undergraduates majoring in any of the bioscience or bioengineering fields. The program offers undergraduates a 12-month mentored research opportunity, providing a solid foundation to pursue advanced degrees in science or engineering. After graduating, 80 percent of Petit Scholars go on to obtain advanced degrees. Since its inception in 2000, the program has supported hundreds of top undergraduate researchers who have established distinguished careers in research, medicine, and industry.

Q: What will the bioengineering and bioscience community look like in the decade to come?

A: We look forward to continuing to strengthen and build the Georgia Tech bio-community as we head into a bright future. Since its investment in bioscience and bioengineering began almost 20 years ago, Georgia Tech has been at the forefront of the convergent science revolution. In 2015, we will see our bio-community expand with the addition of the Engineered Biosystems Building and recruitment of new faculty who believe in our mission. Talent is flocking to Georgia Tech to be a part of the culture we've established and the regional growth in integrated biosciences and bioengineering. Together, we will quicken the pace of new discoveries, while promoting the commercialization and growth of biotechnologies in Georgia to benefit human health and society in the years ahead.  

]]> Kirk Englehardt 1 1364425184 2013-03-27 22:59:44 1475896435 2016-10-08 03:13:55 0 0 news This article is the second in a series of Q&As to introduce the Tech community to the eight IRIs and their directors. In this installment, Executive Director Bob Guldberg answers five questions about the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience.

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2013-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-27 00:00:00 Kirk Englehardt

Research Communications

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202631 202631 image <![CDATA[Bob Guldberg]]> image/jpeg 1449179952 2015-12-03 21:59:12 1475894856 2016-10-08 02:47:36 <![CDATA[Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]> <![CDATA[The Interdisciplinary Research Institutes of Georgia Tech]]>
<![CDATA[Assistant Professor Mark Styczynski Receives NSF CAREER Award]]> 27741 Mark Styczynski, an assistant professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, has been awarded the Early Faculty Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his research into into developing a versatile, widely applicable approach to engineering cells to produce valuable products such as biofuels or pharmaceuticals.

The CAREER Program offers NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of their organization’s mission. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Styczynski, who is the 15th CAREER Award recipient in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, says that his project, “An Integrated, Metabolomics-based Method for Metabolic Engineering,” will use measurement of biochemical intermediates of cellular metabolism, or metabolites, to identify improved routes to engineer cells that can yield valuable products.

“While people routinely use the measurement of one or a few metabolites to drive metabolic engineering, surprisingly no one has developed an effective approach to use measurements of many metabolites from across all of metabolism, called ‘metabolomics,’ for this purpose,” Styczynski says. “We will take this metabolomics data and combine it with mathematical models of metabolism, as well as machine learning, to establish a process where alternating experimental and computational iterations will enable us to engineer cells more effectively.”

As part of the CAREER Award, Styczynski received a grant, which will be used to synthesize his current research with metabolic goals in order to tackle the larger problems in biotechnology.

“One of the direct impacts of the grant will be enabling a biofuels-oriented metabolic engineering application of the approach we will develop,” Styczynski says. “More broadly, this will enable us to expand the scope of what can be produced biologically rather than chemically, which would have significant industrial and environmental impacts.”

While the award helps aid future research, Styczynski says it will also support his collaborations with elementary, middle, and high schools, including Lambert High School in Forsyth County, Ga.

The school is starting a team for the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation’s Synthetic Biology competition, and the award will provide them with critical supplies over the next five years, with the hope of establishing an active, successful team. “Without this award, those students might struggle for access to resources for their projects,” he says.

]]> Katie Brown 1 1364289880 2013-03-26 09:24:40 1475896435 2016-10-08 03:13:55 0 0 news Mark Styczynski, an assistant professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, has been awarded the Early Faculty Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his research into into developing a versatile, widely applicable approach to engineering cells to produce valuable products such as biofuels or pharmaceuticals.

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2013-03-26T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-26T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-26 00:00:00 Katie Brown
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
(404) 385-2299
news@chbe.gatech.edu 

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68544 68544 image <![CDATA[Dr. Mark Styczynski]]> image/jpeg 1449177185 2015-12-03 21:13:05 1475894594 2016-10-08 02:43:14 <![CDATA[National Science Foundation]]> <![CDATA[Styczynski's Research Website]]>
<![CDATA[NIH Biotechnology Training Program in Cell and Tissue Engineering (CTEng)]]> 27195 The Georgia Tech CTEng program provides advanced and integrated training for pre-doctoral engineering students in cell and tissue engineering to develop future leaders for the biotechnology industries.

CTEng supports PhD students from participating programs during their 2nd and 3rd years.  The training program includes integrative bioengineering courses, interactions with cell and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine faculty at Georgia Tech and Emory University School of Medicine, industrial fellowships and site visits, Graduate Leadership program, journal club and discussion groups, and exposure to clinical applications and industrial perspectives.  Graduates of this program will be well-positioned to significantly contribute to biomedical and biotechnological applications.

NOMINATIONS DUE APRIL 5!

Interested students should contact Andrés García, PhD, (CTEng Director) for more information. Nominations for new trainees can only be made by participating faculty.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1364387219 2013-03-27 12:26:59 1475896435 2016-10-08 03:13:55 0 0 news NIH Biotechnology Training Program in Cell and Tissue Engineering (CTEng) - Accepting nominations through April 5th

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2013-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-27 00:00:00 Andres Garcia, PhD

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202531 202531 image <![CDATA[Research at Georgia Tech]]> image/jpeg 1449179952 2015-12-03 21:59:12 1475894856 2016-10-08 02:47:36
<![CDATA["Terradynamics" Could Help Designers Predict How Legged Robots Will Move on Granular Media]]> 27303 Using a combination of theory and experiment, researchers have developed a new approach for understanding and predicting how small legged robots – and potentially also animals – move on and interact with complex granular materials such as sand.

The research could help create and advance the field of “terradynamics” – a name the researchers have given to the science of legged animals and vehicles moving on granular and other complex surfaces. Providing equations to describe and predict this type of movement – comparable to what has been done to predict the motion of animals and vehicles through the air or water – could allow designers to optimize legged robots operating in complex environments for search-and-rescue missions, space exploration or other tasks.

“We now have the tools to understand the movement of legged vehicles over loose sand in the same way that scientists and engineers have had tools to understand aerodynamics and hydrodynamics,” said Daniel Goldman, a professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We are at the beginning of tools that will allow us to do the design and simulation of legged robots to not only predict their performance, but also to optimize designs and allow us to create new concepts.”

The research behind “terradynamics” was described in the March 22 issue of the journal Science. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation Physics of Living Systems program, the Army Research Office, the Army Research Laboratory, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science of the University of California, Berkeley.

Robots such as the Mars Rover have depended on wheels for moving in complex environments such as sand and rocky terrain. Robots envisioned for autonomous search-and-rescue missions also rely on wheels, but as the vehicles become smaller, designers may need to examine alternative means of locomotion, Goldman said.

Existing techniques for describing locomotion on surfaces are complex and can’t take into account the intrusion of legs into a granular surface. To improve and simplify the understanding, Goldman and collaborators Chen Li and Tingnan Zhang examined the motion of a small legged robot as it moved on granular media. Using a 3-D printer, they created legs in a variety of shapes and used them to study how different configurations affected the robot’s speed along a track bed. They then measured granular force laws from experiments to predict forces on legs, and created simulation to predict the robot’s motion.

The key insight, according to Goldman, was that the forces applied to independent elements of the robot legs could be simply summed together to provide a reasonably accurate measure of the net force on a robot moving through granular media. That technique, known as linear superposition, worked surprisingly well for legs moving in diverse kinds of granular media.

“We discovered that the force laws affecting this motion are generic in a diversity of granular media, including poppy seeds, glass beads and natural sand,” said Li, who is now a Miller postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley. “Based on this generalization, we developed a practical procedure for non-specialists to easily apply terradynamics in their own studies using just a single force measurement made with simple equipment they can buy off the shelf, such as a penetrometer.”

For more complicated granular materials, although the terradynamics approach still worked well, an additional factor – perhaps the degree to which particles resemble a sphere – may be required to describe the forces with equivalent accuracy.

Beyond understanding the basic physics principles involved, the researchers also learned that convex legs made in the shape of the letter “C” worked better than other variations.

“As long as the legs are convex, the robot generates large lift and small body drag, and thus can run fast,” Goldman said. “When the limb shape was changed to flat or concave, the performance dropped. This information is important for optimizing the energy efficiency of legged robots.”

Aerodynamic designers have long used a series of equations known as Navier-Stokes to describe the movement of vehicles through the air. Similarly, these equations also allow hydrodynamics designers to know how submarines and other vehicles move through water.

“Terradynamics” could provide designers with an efficient technique for understanding motion through media that flows around legs of terrestrial animals and robots.

“Using terradynamics, our simulation is not only as accurate as the established discrete element method (DEM) simulation, but also much more computationally efficient,” said Zhang, who is a graduate student in Goldman’s laboratory. “For example, to simulate one second of robot locomotion on a granular bed of five million poppy seeds takes the DEM simulation a month using computers in our lab. Using terradynamics, the simulation takes only 10 seconds.”

The six-legged experimental robot was just 13 centimeters long and weighed about 150 grams. Robots of that size could be used in the future for search-and-rescue missions, or to scout out unknown environments such as the surface of Mars. They could also provide biologists with a better understanding of how animals such as sand lizards run and kangaroo rats hop on granular media.

“From a biological perspective, this opens up a new area,” said Goldman, who has studied a variety of animals to learn how their locomotion may assist robot designers. “These are the kinds of tools that can help understand why lizards have feet and bodies of certain shapes. The problems associated with movement in sandy environments are as important to many animals as they are to robots.”

Beyond optimizing the design of future small robots, the work could also lead to a better understanding of the complex environment through which they will have to move.

“We think that the kind of approach we are taking allows us to ask questions about the physics of granular materials that no one has asked before,” Goldman added. “This may reveal new features of granular materials to help us create more comprehensive models and theories of motion. We are now beginning to get the rules of how vehicles move through these materials.”

This research was supported by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Army Research Laboratory Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA W911NF-08-2-004), the Army Research Office (W911NF-11-1-0514), the National Science Foundation (NSF) Physics of Living Systems program (PHY-1150760) and the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Any conclusions are those of the principal investigators, and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Army Research Laboratory, the Army Research Office or the NSF.

CITATION: Chen Li, Tingnan Zhang, Daniel I. Goldman. “A Terradynamics of Legged Locomotion on Granular Media,” Science (2013): http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1229163.

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1363872017 2013-03-21 13:20:17 1475896435 2016-10-08 03:13:55 0 0 news Using a combination of theory and experiment, researchers have developed a new approach for understanding and predicting how small legged robots – and potentially also animals – move on and interact with complex granular materials such as sand.

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2013-03-21T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-21T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-21 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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201321 201311 201331 201341 201321 image <![CDATA[Terradynamics robots running]]> image/jpeg 1449179943 2015-12-03 21:59:03 1475894856 2016-10-08 02:47:36 201311 image <![CDATA[Terradynamics experimental data]]> image/jpeg 1449179943 2015-12-03 21:59:03 1475894856 2016-10-08 02:47:36 201331 image <![CDATA[terradynamics force testing]]> image/jpeg 1449179943 2015-12-03 21:59:03 1475894856 2016-10-08 02:47:36 201341 image <![CDATA[Terradyamics simulated robot]]> image/jpeg 1449179943 2015-12-03 21:59:03 1475894856 2016-10-08 02:47:36
<![CDATA[Mechanical Forces Control Assembly and Disassembly of a Key Cell Protein]]> 27303 Researchers have for the first time demonstrated that mechanical forces can control the depolymerization of actin, a critical protein that provides the major force-bearing structure in the cytoskeletons of cells. The research suggests that forces applied both externally and internally may play a much larger role than previously believed in regulating a range of processes inside cells.

Using atomic force microscopy (AFM) force-clamp experiments, the research found that tensile force regulates the kinetics of actin dissociation by prolonging the lifetimes of bonds at low force range, and by shortening bond lifetimes beyond a force threshold. The research also identified a possible molecular basis for the bonds that form when mechanical forces create new interactions between subunits of actin.

Found in the cytoskeleton of nearly all cells, actin forms dynamic microfilaments that provide structure and sustain forces. A cell’s ability to assemble and disassemble actin allows it to rapidly move or change shape in response to the environment.

The research was reported March 4 in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“For the first time, we have shown that mechanical force can directly regulate how actin is assembled and disassembled,” said Larry McIntire, chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and corresponding author of the study. “Actin is fundamental to how cells accomplish most of their functions and processes. This research gives us a whole new way of thinking about how a cell can do things like rearrange its cytoskeleton in response to external forces.”

The external forces affecting a cell could arise from such mechanical actions as blood flow, trauma to the body, or the loading of bones and other tissue as organisms move around.

“Forces are applied to cells all the time, and often they are directional, not uniformly applied in a certain direction,” said McIntire. “The cell can rearrange its cytoskeleton to either accommodate the forces that are being applied, or apply its own forces to do something – such as moving to go after food.”

Because these forces regulate the polymerization and depolymerization of actin, they load the actin fibers in a specific direction, affecting the duration of bonds that may influence cellular growth in one direction, he said.

For instance, tensile forces applied to the actin produce catch bonds, in which the bond lifetime increases as the force increases. These catch bonds have been shown to exist in other proteins, but actin is the most important protein known to form the structures. Most bonds at the cellular level are slip bonds which, unlike catch bonds, dissociate more quickly with application of force.

The researchers used a specially-constructed AFM to conduct their experiments. The tip was coated with actin monomers, while a polystyrene surface below the AFM tip was coated with either monomeric or filamentous actin. To study the catch-slip bonds, the tip was driven close to the surface to allow bond formation, then retracted to pull on the bond. The tension was held stationary to measure the bond lifetime at a constant force.

The research team also used molecular dynamics simulations to predict the specific amino acids likely to be important in forming the catch bonds. Experiments using specialized reagents confirmed the molecular mechanism, a lysine-glutamic acid-salt bridge believed to be responsible for forming long-lived bonds between actin sub-units when force is applied to them.

“What we found was that when you apply force, the force induces additional interactions at the atomic scale,” said Cheng Zhu, a Regents’ professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and co-corresponding author of the paper. “When you apply force, you find that residues that had previously not been making contact are now interacting. These are force-induced interactions.”

Proof that force application can play a role in the internal functions of cells demonstrates the growing importance of a relatively new field of research known as mechano-biology, which studies how mechanical activities affect living tissues.

“We know that the cell can sense the mechanical environment around it,” said Zhu, who holds the J. Erskine Love Endowed Chair in Engineering. “One of the cell’s responses to the mechanical environment is to change shape and reorganize the actin cytoskeleton. Previously, it was thought that sensory molecules at the cell surface were required to convert the mechanical cues into biochemical signals before the actin cytoskeleton could be altered. The mechanism we describe can bypass the cellular signaling mechanisms because actin bears the force in the cell.”

The work sets the stage for additional research into other biochemical reactions that may be produced by the application of force.

“It’s becoming more and more clear that the ability of the cell to vary its mechanical environment, in addition to responding to what’s going on outside it, is crucial to a lot of what goes on with the biochemistry in the cell functions,” McIntire added. “If you can change the structure of the amino acids by pulling on them, and that force is applied to an enzymatic site, you can increase or decrease the enzymatic activity by changing the local structure of the amino acids.”

The research was inspired by a 2005 paper from the Shu Chien lab at the University of California at San Diego, and was carried out by Georgia Tech graduate student Cho-yin Lee (now at the National Taiwan University Hospital) and research scientist Jizhong Lou (now at the Chinese Academy of Sciences), with intellectual input from Suzanne B. Eskin from Georgia Tech and Shoichiro Ono from Emory University.  Kuo-kuang Wen and Melissa McKane from the laboratory of Peter A. Rubenstein at the University of Iowa provided actin mutants used in the research.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under grants HL18672, HL70537, HL091020, HL093723, AI077343, AI044902, AR48615 and DC8803, and by the National Natural Science Foundation of China grants 31070827, 31222022 and 81161120424. The conclusions are those of the principal investigators and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

CITATION: Lee, Cho-Yin, et. al., “Actin depolymerization under force is governed by lysine 113:glutamic acid 195-mediated catch-slip bonds,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013). http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/03/01/1218407110


Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1363790917 2013-03-20 14:48:37 1475896431 2016-10-08 03:13:51 0 0 news Researchers have for the first time demonstrated that mechanical forces can control the depolymerization of actin, a critical protein that provides the major force-bearing structure in the cytoskeletons of cells. The research suggests that forces applied both externally and internally may play a much larger role than previously believed in regulating a range of processes inside cells.

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2013-03-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-20T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-20 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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200951 200971 200951 image <![CDATA[AFM Cantilever for Actin Study]]> image/jpeg 1449179943 2015-12-03 21:59:03 1475894853 2016-10-08 02:47:33 200971 image <![CDATA[Protein Progression in Actin]]> image/jpeg 1449179943 2015-12-03 21:59:03 1475894853 2016-10-08 02:47:33
<![CDATA[Startup Launched from Georgia Tech-Emory University Research Receives $7.9 Million]]> 27303 Clearside Biomedical, Inc. an Atlanta-based ophthalmic pharmaceutical company launched from research at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, has received $7.9 million in funding to continue drug and technology development for treatment of ocular diseases.

The new funding is in addition to a $4 million venture capital investment received by Clearside Biomedical in early 2012 that served as the foundation for the startup company.

Santen Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd in Osaka, Japan, will fund Clearside’s technology development, and has also entered into a research collaboration agreement for posterior ocular diseases. Santen, along with new investor Mountain Group Capital and its affiliates, joins current investors Hatteras Venture Partners in Durham, NC, the Georgia Research Alliance Venture Fund, and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler Business School Private Equity Fund.

Clearside Biomedical is developing microinjection technology that uses hollow microneedles to precisely deliver drugs to a targeted area at the back of the eye. If the technique proves successful in clinical trials and wins regulatory approval, it could provide an improved method for treating diseases including age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, as well as other ocular conditions related to diabetes.

The technology was developed in a collaboration between the research groups of Henry Edelhauser, PhD, professor of ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine, and Mark Prausnitz, PhD, a Regents’ professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The National Institutes of Health sponsored research leading to development of the technology.

In contrast to standard treatments, this microneedle technology provides a more targeted approach for treating retinal diseases that confines the drug to the site of disease and reduces side effects from exposing other parts of the eye. Prior to the development of this technology, drugs could be delivered to the retinal tissues at the back of the eye in three ways: injection by hypodermic needle into the eye’s vitreous humor (the gelatinous material that fills the eyeball); eye drops, which have limited ability to reach the back of the eye; and pills taken by mouth that expose the whole body to the drug.

The technology developed by Georgia Tech and Emory uses a hollow micron-scale needle to inject drugs into the suprachoroidal space located between the outer surface of the eye – known as the sclera – and the choroid, a deeper layer that provides nutrients to the rest of the eye. Preclinical research has shown that fluid can flow between the two layers, where it can spread out along the circumference of the eye, targeting structures like the choroid and retina that are now difficult to reach.

By targeting the suprachoroidal space using microscopic needles, the researchers believe they can reduce trauma to the eye, make drugs more effective and reduce complications. The new delivery method could help advance a new series of drugs being developed to target the retina, choroid and other structures in the back of the eye.

“I cannot imagine a better alliance as we continue to understand the role the suprachoroidal space will play in dosing medicine directly to the site of retinal disease in patients experiencing retinal blindness,” says Daniel White, president and CEO of Clearside Biomedical. “The collaboration with Santen prepares an avenue to develop state-of-the-art medications for the critical treatment of sight-threatening diseases.”

In November 2012, Clearside announced its first successful human dosing with the device in a safety and tolerability study in patients with retinal disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed Clearside Biomedical to pursue testing related to its Investigational New Drug (IND) Application for CLS1001 (triamcinolone acetonide) Suprachoroidal Injectable Suspension. This IND would treat sympathetic ophthalmia, temporal arteritis, uveitis and ocular inflammatory conditions unresponsive to topical corticosteroids. Clinical testing is scheduled to proceed within the next few months.

Samirkumar Patel and Vladimir Zarnitsyn, researchers from the Prausnitz lab who were involved in development of the ocular drug delivery technique, have joined Clearside Biomedical. Edelhauser serves as vice president of scientific affairs and Prausnitz serves on the board of directors of Clearside Biomedical.

The company was formed with the assistance of Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program, Georgia Tech’s center for commercialization, serving faculty, staff and students who want to form startup companies based upon their research or invention.

Henry Edelhauser, Samirkumar Patel, Mark Prausnitz, Vladimir Zarnitsyn, Emory University and Georgia Tech have financial interests in Clearside Biomedical and its ocular platform and own equity in Clearside. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Emory University and Georgia Tech in accordance with their conflict of interest policies.

Research News

Georgia Institute of Technology

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Media Relations Contacts: Georgia Tech, John Toon (jtoon@gatech.edu)(404-894-6986) or Emory University, Holly Korschun (hkorsch@emory.edu)(404-727-3990).

Writer: Holly Korschun

]]> John Toon 1 1363611677 2013-03-18 13:01:17 1475896431 2016-10-08 03:13:51 0 0 news Clearside Biomedical, Inc. an Atlanta-based ophthalmic pharmaceutical company launched from research at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, has received $7.9 million in funding to continue drug and technology development for treatment of ocular diseases.

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2013-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-18 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Graduate Programs Recognized Nationally]]> 27560 The Georgia Institute of Technology graduate programs have earned high marks from U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings.

The Institute’s College of Engineering is ranked No. 5 and all 11 Engineering programs ranked within the top 10, including industrial engineering (No. 1), biomedical and bioengineering (No. 2), civil (No. 4), aerospace (No. 5), electrical (No. 5), environmental (No. 5) computer (No. 5), mechanical (No. 5), materials (No. 9), chemical (No. 10) and nuclear (No. 10).

“Georgia Tech’s continued recognition within the U.S. News & World Report graduate rankings is a reflection of the consistent quality and ongoing success of our graduate programs,” said Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson.

The Scheller College of Business MBA program ranked No. 27, while the part-time evening MBA program also ranked highly at No. 24.

]]> Jason Maderer 1 1363075638 2013-03-12 08:07:18 1475896428 2016-10-08 03:13:48 0 0 news U.S. News and World Report's annual rankings have tabbed Georgia Tech's College of Engineering as the 5th best program in the nation.

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2013-03-12T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-12T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-12 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
laura.diamond@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-660-2926

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<![CDATA[U.S. News World and World Report Rankings]]>
<![CDATA[Neural “Synchrony” May be Key to Understanding How the Human Brain Perceives]]> 27303 Despite many remarkable discoveries in the field of neuroscience during the past several decades, researchers have not been able to fully crack the brain’s “neural code.” The neural code details how the brain’s roughly 100 billion neurons turn raw sensory inputs into information we can use to see, hear and feel things in our environment.

In a perspective article published in the journal Nature Neuroscience on Feb. 25, 2013, biomedical engineering professor Garrett Stanley detailed research progress toward “reading and writing the neural code.” This encompasses the ability to observe the spiking activity of neurons in response to outside stimuli and make clear predictions about what is being seen, heard, or felt, and the ability to artificially introduce activity within the brain that enables someone to see, hear, or feel something that is not experienced naturally through sensory organs.

Stanley also described challenges that remain to read and write the neural code and asserted that the specific timing of electrical pulses is crucial to interpreting the code. He wrote the article with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Stanley has been developing approaches to better understand and control the neural code since 1997 and has published about 40 journal articles in this area.

“Neuroscientists have made great progress toward reading the neural code since the 1990s, but the recent development of improved tools for measuring and activating neuronal circuits has finally put us in a position to start writing the neural code and controlling neuronal circuits in a physiological and meaningful way,” said Stanley, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

With recent reports that the Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, progress toward breaking the neural code could begin to accelerate.

The potential rewards for cracking the neural code are immense. In addition to understanding how brains generate and manage information, neuroscientists may be able to control neurons in individuals with epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease or restore lost function following a brain injury. Researchers may also be able to supply artificial brain signals that provide tactile sensation to amputees wearing a prosthetic device.

Stanley’s paper highlighted a major challenge neuroscientists face: selecting a viable code for conveying information through neural pathways. A longstanding debate exists in the neuroscience community over whether the neural code is a “rate code,” where neurons simply spike faster than their background spiking rate when they are coding for something, or a “timing code,” where the pattern of the spikes matters. Stanley expanded the debate by suggesting the neural code is a “synchrony code,” where the synchronization of spiking across neurons is important.

A synchrony code argues the need for precise millisecond timing coordination across groups of neighboring neurons to truly control the circuit. When a neuron receives an incoming stimulus, an electric pulse travels the neuron’s length and triggers the cell to dump neurotransmitters that can spark a new impulse in a neighboring neuron. In this way, the signal gets passed around the brain and then the body, enabling individuals to see, touch, and hear things in the environment. Depending on the signals it receives, a neuron can spike with hundreds of these impulses every second.

“Eavesdropping on neurons in the brain is like listening to a bunch of people talk—a lot of the noise is just filler, but you still have to determine what the important messages are,” explained Stanley. “My perspective is that information is relevant only if it is going to propagate downstream, a process that requires the synchronization of neurons.”

Neuronal synchrony is naturally modulated by the brain. In a study published in Nature Neuroscience in 2010, Stanley reported finding that a change in the degree of synchronous firing of neurons in the thalamus altered the nature of information as it traveled through the pathway and enhanced the brain’s ability to discriminate between different sensations. The thalamus serves as a relay station between the outside world and the brain’s cortex.

Synchrony induced through artificial stimulation poses a real challenge for creating a wide range of neural representations. Recent technological advances have provided researchers with new methods of activating and silencing neurons via artificial means. Electrical microstimulation had been used for decades to activate neurons, but the technique activated a large volume of neurons at a time and could not be used to silence them or separately activate excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Stanley compared the technique with driving a car that has the gas and brake pedals welded together.

New research methods, such as optogenetics, enable activation and silencing of neurons in close proximity and provide control unavailable with electrical microstimulation. Through genetic expression or viral transfection, different cell types can be targeted to express specific proteins that can be activated with light.

“Moving forward, new technologies need to be used to stimulate neural activity in more realistic and natural scenarios and their effects on the synchronization of neurons need to be thoroughly examined,” said Stanley. “Further work also needs to be completed to determine whether synchrony is crucial in different contexts and across brain regions.”

This study was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (IIS-0904630 and IOS-1131948) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)(2R01NS048285). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigator and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF or NIH.

CITATION: Stanley, Garrett B., “Reading and writing the neural code,” Nature Neuroscience (2013): http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3330.

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: Abby Robinson

]]> John Toon 1 1363006046 2013-03-11 12:47:26 1475896428 2016-10-08 03:13:48 0 0 news In a perspective article published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, biomedical engineering professor Garrett Stanley detailed research progress toward “reading and writing the neural code.” The neural code details how the brain’s roughly 100 billion neurons turn raw sensory inputs into information we can use to see, hear and feel things in our environment.

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2013-03-11T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-11T00:00:00-04:00 2013-03-11 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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198401 198411 198401 image <![CDATA[Neural Synchrony]]> image/jpeg 1449179918 2015-12-03 21:58:38 1475894851 2016-10-08 02:47:31 198411 image <![CDATA[Neural Synchrony2]]> image/jpeg 1449179918 2015-12-03 21:58:38 1475894851 2016-10-08 02:47:31
<![CDATA[Medical and Biological Engineering Group Names Bellamkonda President-Elect]]> 27281 The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has named Ravi Bellamkonda as the organization’s president-elect. He will begin his term as president in 2014.

Bellamkonda represents the fourth Georgia Tech bioengineer elected to serve as president of the prestigious organization, reflecting the Institute’s leadership in biological and medical engineering. He follows in the footsteps of Georgia Tech’s Robert Nerem, Don Giddens and Larry McIntire.

Bellamkonda is the Carol Ann and David D. Flanagan Chair in Georgia Tech and Emory University’s Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), where he directs the Neurological Biomaterials and Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory. He also serves as Georgia Tech’s associate vice president for research and is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar.

Headquartered in in Washington, D.C., AIMBE provides leadership and advocacy in medical and biological engineering.

]]> Lisa Grovenstein 1 1362959822 2013-03-10 23:57:02 1475896428 2016-10-08 03:13:48 0 0 news The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has named Ravi Bellamkonda as the organization’s president-elect. He will begin his term as president in 2014.

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2013-03-10T00:00:00-05:00 2013-03-10T00:00:00-05:00 2013-03-10 00:00:00 72314 72314 image <![CDATA[Ravi Bellamkonda]]> 1449177454 2015-12-03 21:17:34 1475894656 2016-10-08 02:44:16 <![CDATA[AIMBE Announcement]]>
<![CDATA[BioEngineering Graduate Program Announced 2013 Awardees]]> 27195 The 2013 BioEngineering Graduate Program awards were announced during the poster session which was held to welcome potential new recruits to the program.  This is the second year that the program has honored graduate students with the Best Thesis and Paper awards and a faculty advisor whose dedication advising and mentoring graduate students in the program goes above and beyond.

Sarah Sharpe, Ph.D. candidate in Dan Goldman’s laboratory in the School of Physics, was awarded the Best Paper Award for a journal article featured in the Journal of Experimental Biology entitled, “Environmental interaction influences muscle activation strategy during sand-swimming in the sandfish lizard Scincus scincus.”  Sarah’s work has been ground breaking because while there has been a lot of work looking at organisms swimming in fluids, flying, and running on relatively flat rigid hard ground, there has been much less work done on the movement of organisms on and within materials like sand that can behave as fluids and solids.  

Catherine Rivet, a Ph.D. graduate student supervised by Melissa Kemp, Ph.D., (BME) and Hang Lu, Ph.D., (ChBE), received the Best Thesis Award for her dissertation entitled, “Impaired Signaling in Senescing T Cells: Investigation of the Role of Reactive Oxygen Species Using Mircrofluidic Platforms and Computational Modeling.” This research resulted in 5 publications and Rivet was also named as the 2012 Suddath award winner.  

Faculty member, Todd McDevitt, Ph.D., (BME) was recognized with the Best Advisor Award. Supporting letters for McDevitt were provided by both his graduate students as well as trainees in the National Science Foundation (NSF)- funded Integrated Graduate Education Research Training (IGERT) program which he co-directs.  

Graduate students and advisors are nominated by students in the program for contributions during the 2012 calendar year, and the nominations are evaluated by the Faculty Advisory Committee. Winners receive monetary prizes and commemorative plaques.

“We had very strong nominations for each of the award categories and the awardees are very deserving and reflect the strong interdisciplinary, cutting-edge, and collaborative nature of the program,” said the director of the BioEngineering Graduate Program, Andrés García, Ph.D. (ME).

In the first BioE Awards presented last year, Rolando Gittens (Barbara Boyan advisor) and Ed Phelps (Andrés García advisor) received the Best Paper and Best Thesis awards, respectively. Melissa Kemp, Ph.D., (BME) was recognized with the Best Advisor Award.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1362997131 2013-03-11 10:18:51 1475896428 2016-10-08 03:13:48 0 0 news BioEngineering Graduate Program Announced 2013 Awardees - Awards given for Best Thesis, Best Paper and Best Advisor

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2013-03-08T00:00:00-05:00 2013-03-08T00:00:00-05:00 2013-03-08 00:00:00 Megan McDevitt
Director Communications & Marketing
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

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198351 198361 198351 image <![CDATA[Bioengineering program director, Andres Garcia, PhD, and Best Paper awardee, Sarah Sharpe]]> image/jpeg 1449179918 2015-12-03 21:58:38 1475894851 2016-10-08 02:47:31 198361 image <![CDATA[BioEngineering program director, Andres Garcia, and Best Advisor awardee, Todd McDevitt]]> image/jpeg 1449179918 2015-12-03 21:58:38 1475894851 2016-10-08 02:47:31 <![CDATA[BioEngineering website]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Study Adhesion System of Remora Fish to Create Bio-Inspired Adhesive]]> 27303 When a shark is spotted in the ocean, humans and marine animals alike usually flee. But not the remora – this fish will instead swim right up to a shark and attach itself to the predator using a suction disk located on the top of its head. While we know why remoras attach to larger marine animals – for transportation, protection and food – the question of how they attach and detach from hosts without appearing to harm them remains unanswered.

A new study led by researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) provides details of the structure and tissue properties of the remora’s unique adhesion system. The researchers plan to use this information to create an engineered reversible adhesive inspired by the remora that could be used to create pain- and residue-free bandages, attach sensors to objects in aquatic or military reconnaissance environments, replace surgical clamps and help robots climb.

“While other creatures with unique adhesive properties – such as geckos, tree frogs and insects – have been the inspiration for laboratory-fabricated adhesives, the remora has been overlooked until now,” said GTRI senior research engineer Jason Nadler. “The remora’s attachment mechanism is quite different from other suction cup-based systems, fasteners or adhesives that can only attach to smooth surfaces or cannot be detached without damaging the host.”

The study results were presented at the Materials Research Society’s 2012 Fall Meeting and will be published in the meeting’s proceedings. The research was supported by the Georgia Research Alliance and GTRI.

The remora’s suction plate is a greatly evolved dorsal fin on top of the fish’s body. The fin is flattened into a disk-like pad and surrounded by a thick, fleshy lip of connective tissue that creates the seal between the remora and its host. The lip encloses rows of plate-like structures called lamellae, from which perpendicular rows of tooth-like structures called spinules emerge. The intricate skeletal structure enables efficient attachment to surfaces including sharks, sea turtles, whales and even boats.

To better understand how remoras attach to a host, Nadler and GTRI research scientist Allison Mercer teamed up with researchers from the Georgia Tech School of Biology and Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering to investigate and quantitatively analyze the structure and form of the remora adhesion system, including its hierarchical nature.

Remora typically attach to larger marine animals for three reasons: transportation – a free ride that allows the remora to conserve energy; protection – being attacked when attached to a shark is unlikely; and food – sharks are very sloppy eaters, often leaving plenty of delectable morsels floating around for the remora to gobble up.

But whether this attachment was active or passive had been unclear. Results from the GTRI study suggest that remoras utilize a passive adhesion mechanism, meaning that the fish do not have to exert additional energy to maintain their attachment. The researchers suspect that drag forces created as the host swims actually increase the strength of the adhesion.

Dissection experiments showed that the remora’s attachment or release from a host could be controlled by muscles that raise or lower the lamellae. Dissection also revealed light-colored muscle tissue surrounding the suction disk, indicating low levels of myoglobin. For the remora to maintain active muscle control while attached to a marine host over long distances, the muscle tissue should display high concentrations of myoglobin, which were only seen in the much darker swimming muscles.

“We were very excited to discover that the adhesion is passive,” said Mercer. “We may be able to exploit and improve upon some of the adhesive properties of the fish to produce a synthetic material.”

The researchers also developed a technique that allowed them to collect thousands of measurements from three remora specimens, which yielded new insight into the shape, arrangement and spacing of their features. First, they imaged the remoras in attached and detached states using microtomography, optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. From the images, the researchers digitally reconstructed each specimen, measured characteristic features, and quantified structural similarities among specimens with significant size differences.

Detailed microtomography-based surface renderings of the lamellae showed a row of shorter, more regularly spaced and more densely packed spinules and another row of longer, less densely spaced spinules. A quantitative analysis uncovered similarities in suction disk structure with respect to the size and position of the lamellae and spinules despite significant specimen size differences. One of the fish’s disks was more than twice as long as the others, but the researchers observed a length-to-width ratio of each specimen’s adhesion disk that was within 16 percent of the average.

Through additional experiments, the researchers found that the spacing between the spinules on the remoras and the spacing between scales on mako sharks was remarkably similar.

“Complementary spacing between features on the remora and a shark likely contributes to the larger adhesive strength that has been observed when remoras are attached to shark skin compared to smoother surfaces,” said Mercer.

The researchers are planning to conduct further tests to better understand the roles of the various suction disk structural elements and their interactions to create a successful attachment and detachment system in the laboratory.

“We are not trying to replicate the exact remora adhesion structure that occurs in nature,” explained Nadler. “We would like to identify, characterize and harness its critical features to design and test attachment systems that enable those unique adhesive functions. Ultimately, we want to optimize a bio-inspired adhesive for a wide variety of applications that have capabilities and performance advantages over adhesives or fasteners available today.”

In addition to those already mentioned, the following researchers also contributed to this work: Georgia Tech mechanical engineering research engineer Angela Lin, professor Robert Guldberg and graduate student Michael Culler; Georgia Tech biology graduate student Ryan Bloomquist and associate professor Todd Streelman; GTRI research scientist Keri Ledford, and Georgia Aquarium Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Alistair Dove.

 


Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contacts: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu) or Lance Wallace (404-407-7280)(lance.wallace@gtri.gatech.edu).

Writer: Abby Robinson

]]> John Toon 1 1361398102 2013-02-20 22:08:22 1475896420 2016-10-08 03:13:40 0 0 news A new study provides details of the structure and tissue properties of the unique adhesion system used by remora fish to attach themselves to sharks and other marine animals. The information could lead to a new engineered reversible adhesive that could be used to create pain- and residue-free bandages, attach sensors to objects in aquatic or military reconnaissance environments, replace surgical clamps and help robots climb.

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2013-02-21T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-21T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-21 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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194101 194111 194121 194101 image <![CDATA[Remora adhesive disk]]> image/jpeg 1449179891 2015-12-03 21:58:11 1475894843 2016-10-08 02:47:23 194111 image <![CDATA[Remora adhesive disk2]]> image/jpeg 1449179891 2015-12-03 21:58:11 1475894843 2016-10-08 02:47:23 194121 image <![CDATA[Remora adhesive disk3]]> image/jpeg 1449179891 2015-12-03 21:58:11 1475894843 2016-10-08 02:47:23
<![CDATA[Molecules Assemble in Water, Hint at Origins of Life]]> 27560 The base pairs that hold together two pieces of RNA, the older cousin of DNA, are some of the most important molecular interactions in living cells. Many scientists believe that these base pairs were part of life from the very beginning and that RNA was one of the first polymers of life. But there is a problem. The RNA bases don’t form base pairs in water unless they are connected to a polymer backbone, a trait that has baffled origin-of-life scientists for decades. If the bases don’t pair before they are part of polymers, how would the bases have been selected out from the many molecules in the “prebiotic soup” so that RNA polymers could be formed?

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are exploring an alternate theory for the origin of RNA: they think the RNA bases may have evolved from a pair of molecules distinct from the bases we have today. This theory looks increasingly attractive, as the Georgia Tech group was able to achieve efficient, highly ordered self-assembly in water with small molecules that are similar to the bases of RNA. These “proto-RNA bases” spontaneously assemble into gene-length linear stacks, suggesting that the genes of life could have gotten started from these or similar molecules. The research is published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Georgia Tech Professor Nicholas Hud, who has been trying for years to find simple molecules that will assemble in water and be capable of forming RNA or its ancestor. Hud’s group knew that they were on to something when they added a small chemical tail to a proto-RNA base and saw it spontaneously form linear assemblies with another proto-RNA base. In some cases, the results produced 18,000 nicely ordered, stacked molecules in one long structure.

“Thinking about the origin of RNA reminds me of the paradox of your grandfather’s ax,” said Hud, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “If your father changed the handle and you changed the head, is it the same ax? We see RNA the same way. Its chemical structure might have changed over time, but it was in continual use so we can consider it to be the same molecule.”

Hud concedes that scientists may never be 100 percent sure what existed four billion years ago when a complex mixture of chemicals started to work together to start life. His next goal is to determine whether the proto-RNA bases can be linked by a backbone to form a polymer that could have functioned as a genetic material.

Georgia Tech partnered with the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain on the project. The proto-RNA’s two-component, self-assembling system consisted of cyanuric acid (CA) and TAPAS, a derivative of triaminopyrimidine (TAP).

In addition to addressing the origin-of-life questions, Hud suggests the self-assembly process could be used in the future to create new materials, such as nanowires.

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA (Award Number CHE-1004570), and by NASA Exobiology (Award Number NNX08A014G). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF or NASA.

]]> Jason Maderer 1 1361360390 2013-02-20 11:39:50 1475896420 2016-10-08 03:13:40 0 0 news Researchers have spontaneously assemble "proto-RNA bases" in water,  suggesting that the genes of life could have gotten started from these or similar molecules.

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2013-02-20T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-20T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-20 00:00:00 Jason Maderer
Media Relations
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966

 

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193731 193731 image <![CDATA[Nicholas Hud in lab]]> image/jpeg 1449179891 2015-12-03 21:58:11 1475894843 2016-10-08 02:47:23 <![CDATA[JACS study]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences]]>
<![CDATA[Petit Institute Announces its 2013 Class of Petit Scholars]]> 27195 The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech announces its 2013 class of Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars.  The "Petit Scholars" are top undergraduate students from Atlanta-area universities chosen from a highly competitive selection process to conduct independent research projects for a full year at the Petit Institute.

The Petit Scholars program is administered by the Petit Institute and Todd McDevitt, a Petit Faculty Fellow and associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, who serves as the faculty advisor for the program.

"This year we saw the largest and most diverse applicant pool to date," McDevitt said.  "With the program's prestige growing within the biotech research community, we had an extremely competitive application process.  From the generosity of our supporters, we were able to award sixteen research scholarships for 2013."

From January through December of 2013, each of the 16 scholars will be mentored by a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in a Petit Institute laboratory.  During this period, the scholars will work to develop their own research projects which they themselves have selected after a thorough interview process with potential mentors.  Research is conducted within the areas of cancer biology, biomaterials, drug design, development and delivery, molecular evolution, molecular cellular and tissue biomechanics, regenerative medicine, stem cell engineering and systems biology.  Many scholars will have made enough progress in their research by the end of the year to participate on scientific publications and/or present at conferences.  

The class of 2013 is represented by students from Georgia Tech, Emory University, Morehouse College and Agnes Scott College.

2013 Class of Petit Scholars:
Derrius Anderson - Morehouse
Rebecca Byler - GT
Marisa Casola - GT
Dabin Choi - Emory
Camden Esancy - Agnes Scott College
Meredith Fay - GT
David Heaner - GT
Jaheda Khanam - GT
Alicia Lane - GT
Bryant Menn - GT
Ivan Morales - GT
Dylan Richards - GT
Sanjay Sridaran - GT
Max Stockslager - GT
Aditya Suresh - GT
Jose Vasquez Porto-Viso - GT

Since its inception in 2000, the program has supported hundreds of top undergraduate researchers who have gone on to distinguished careers in research, medicine and industry.  Originally established as a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for Tissue Engineering, the program was expanded to a full year research opportunity and has now funded nearly two hundred students.

Funding for the Petit Scholars is supported by Atlanta area community members, including the Friends of the Petit Institute, as well as corporate sponsorship.  If you are interested in donating to this valuable program, please contact us.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1354184527 2012-11-29 10:22:07 1475896398 2016-10-08 03:13:18 0 0 news Petit Institute Announces its 2013 Class of Petit Scholars - Sixteen top undergraduate scholars awarded full-year research opportunity

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2013-02-19T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-19T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-19 00:00:00 Colly Mitchell - Program administrator

Todd McDevitt, PhD - Program faculty advisor

 

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193451 193451 image <![CDATA[Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars Class of 2013]]> image/jpeg 1449179879 2015-12-03 21:57:59 1475894843 2016-10-08 02:47:23 <![CDATA[Petit Scholars website]]> <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[Designer Blood Clots: Artificial Platelets Could Treat Injured Soldiers on the Battlefield]]> 27303 When it comes to healing the terrible wounds of war, success may hinge on the first blood clot – the one that begins forming on the battlefield right after an injury.

Researchers exploring the complex stream of cellular signals produced by the body in response to a traumatic injury believe the initial response – formation of a blood clot – may control subsequent healing. Using that information, they’re developing new biomaterials, including artificial blood platelets laced with regulatory chemicals that could be included in an injector device the size of an iPhone. Soldiers wounded in action could use the device to treat themselves, helping control bleeding, stabilizing the injury and setting the right course for healing.

Formation of “designer” blood clots from the artificial platelets would be triggered by the same factor that initiates the body’s natural clotting processes. In animal models, the synthetic platelets reduced clotting time by approximately 30 percent, though the materials have not yet been tested in humans.

“The idea is to have on the battlefield technologies that would deliver a biomaterial capable of finding where the bleeding is happening and augmenting the body’s own clotting processes,” said Thomas Barker, an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “Simultaneously, the material would help instruct the biochemistry and biophysics of the clot structure that would govern subsequent healing.”

Barker presented information on the research Friday, Feb. 15 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The research has been sponsored in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Center for Advanced Bioengineering for Soldier Survivability at Georgia Tech, and by an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship to Ashley Brown, a postdoctoral fellow working on the project.

After an injury, the most critical need is to stop the bleeding. But as traumatic injuries heal, they often produce significant scarring that is difficult to treat. Georgia Tech researchers are working on both sides of the problem, developing cell signaling techniques that may head off the formation of scars – as well as techniques for addressing the fibrosis that is often the long-term result. Beyond helping halt the bleeding, the synthetic platelets would deliver regulatory chemicals designed to prevent scarring.

“The blood clot actually ends up directing how the entire wound healing process is going to occur,” Barker said. “The initial clot matrix instructs very specific cellular behaviors which have consequences for the next wave of cells that comes in to do specific jobs, which have consequences for the next wave of cells. If we can modify that initial clot, it can become the three-dimensional matrix needed to build the regenerated or repaired tissue.”

The synthetic platelets, made from tiny structures known as hydrogels, could be injected into the bloodstream where they would circulate until activated by the body’s own clotting processes. Once activated, the particles – which are about one micron in diameter – would change shape, converting to a thin film that would help seal wounds. To develop these hydrogels, Barker is collaborating with Andrew Lyon, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The bloodstream contains proteins known as fibrinogen that are the precursors for fibrin, the polymer that provides the basic structure for natural blood clots. When they receive the right signals from a protein called thrombin, these precursors polymerize at the site of the bleeding. To prevent unintended activation of their synthetic platelets, the researchers use the same trigger.

The researchers followed a process known as molecular evolution to develop an antibody that could be attached to the hydrogels to cause their form to change when they encounter thrombin-activated fibrin. The resulting antibody has high affinity for the polymerized form of fibrin and low affinity for the precursor.

“We knew the molecule that we wanted and we knew the domains that were critical for recognition,” Barker said. “The primary design concept was the ability to recognize an active, forming clot from the soluble, inactive precursor.”

The artificial platelets have so far been tested in rats, and separately using in vitro simulated endothelial systems in the laboratory of Wilbur Lam, an assistant professor at Emory University in Atlanta. Though the work is a long way from a device that could be used on the battlefield, Barker envisions transitioning the research to a startup company that develop the technology to improve survivability for wounded soldiers.

“You could have it literally in the pocket of any soldier, who could pop it out when needed,” Barker explained. “As the needle is extended, you would break the package of freeze-dried particles. The device would then be placed on the abdomen, where the particles would be injected into the bloodstream. They would circulate inactive until they encountered the initiation of clotting.”

Once the bleeding was stopped, cytokines and anti-inflammatory compounds within the “designer” clot could help determine the phenotype that should be adopted by healing cells and regulate their behavior. That would set the stage for the subsequent healing process.

To help soldiers already suffering from the effects of fibrosis – the contraction of scarred tissue – the researchers are developing a polymer to which a natural peptide is attached. The peptide helps regulate the repair process that produces scars and could ultimately help reduce or reverse the effects of fibrosis. The technique has reversed the effects of pulmonary fibrosis in an animal model.

Though the research focuses on the needs of soldiers injured on the battlefield, many of the technologies could ultimately find civilian use. Because the artificial platelets would only activate when the encounter thrombin-activated fibrin, they could be used by emergency medical technicians treating patients in which internal bleeding is suspected, Barker said.

This research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under contract R21EB013743 and by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) under contract W81XWH110306. The conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the DoD.

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1360873089 2013-02-14 20:18:09 1475896417 2016-10-08 03:13:37 0 0 news When it comes to healing the terrible wounds of war, success may hinge on the first blood clot – the one that begins forming on the battlefield right after an injury.

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2013-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-15 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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<![CDATA[Sticky Cells: Cyclic Mechanical Reinforcement Extends Longevity of Bonds Between Cells]]> 27303 Research carried out by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and The University of Manchester has revealed new insights into how cells stick to each other and to other bodily structures, an essential function in the formation of tissue structures and organs. It’s thought that abnormalities in their ability to do so play an important role in a broad range of disorders, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The study’s findings are outlined in the journal Molecular Cell and describe a surprising new aspect of cell adhesion involving the family of cell adhesion molecules known as integrins, which are found on the surfaces of most cells. The research uncovered a phenomenon termed “cyclic mechanical reinforcement,” in which the length of time during which bonds exist is extended with repeated pulling and release between the integrins and ligands that are part of the extracellular matrix to which the cells attach.

Professor Martin Humphries, dean of the faculty of life sciences at the University of Manchester and one of the paper’s co-authors, says the study suggests some new capabilities for cells: “This paper identifies a new kind of bond that is strengthened by cyclical applications of force, and which appears to be mediated by complex shape changes in integrin receptors. The findings also shed light on a possible mechanism used by cells to sense extracellular topography and to aggregate information through ‘remembering’ multiple interaction events.”

The cyclic mechanical reinforcement allows force to prolong the lifetimes of bonds, demonstrating a mechanical regulation of receptor-ligand interactions and identifying a molecular mechanism for strengthening cell adhesion through cyclical forces.

“Many cell functions such as differentiation, growth and the expression of particular genes depend on cell interaction with the ligands of the intracellular matrix,” said Cheng Zhu, a professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and the study’s corresponding author.  “The cells respond to their environment, which includes many mechanical aspects. This study has extended our understanding of how connections are made and how mechanical forces regulate interactions.”

The research was published online by the journal on February 14th. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Wellcome Trust.

Cells of the body regulate adhesion in response to both internally- and externally-applied forces. This is particularly important to adhesion mediated by proteins such as integrins that connect the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton – and provide cells with both mechanical anchorages and the means to initiate signaling.

Using delicate force measuring equipment, researchers in Zhu’s lab and the laboratory of Andres Garcia – a professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech – collaborated to study adhesion between integrin and fibronectin, a protein component of the extracellular matrix. What they found was that cyclic forces applied to the bond switch it from a short lived state – with lifetimes of about one second – to a long-lived state that can exist for more than a hundred seconds.

“Force can be very important in biology,” said Zhu. “Force has direction, magnitude and duration, so in describing its effects on biological systems, you have to use a more complete language.”

Zhu, Garcia and Georgia Tech graduate students Fang Kong, William Parks and David Dumbauld – along with postdoctoral fellow Zenhai Li – used two different mechanical techniques to study the strength of bonds between integrin and fibronectin. One technique measured the bond strengths in purified molecules, while the other studied the effects of them in their native cellular environment.

“We have very precise force transducers that allow us to measure force on the scale of pico-newtons,” said Zhu. “We prepare the samples in such a way that we engage only one bond, then we control the application of force and observe what happens.”

The researchers first used an atomic force microscope to bring the integrin molecule together with the fibronectin, then separate the two. Instruments measured the pico-newton forces required to separate the molecules, and found that the duration of the bonds increased with the repetition of the contacts.

The second technique, known as BFP, involved the use of a fibronectin-bearing glass bead attached to a red blood cell aspirated by a micropipette. Integrin expressed on the micropipette-aspirated cell was pressed into the bead, then pulled away over repeated cycles.Lifetime measurement confirmed that repeated pulling increased the longevity of the bonds.

The researchers studied two integrins, part of a family of 24 related molecules that operate in humans. In future work, they hope to determine whether or not the cyclic mechanical reinforcement they observed is a universal property of many cellular adhesion molecules.

The researchers also hope to explore how cells use this cyclic mechanical reinforcement. Because many disease processes result from abnormal cellular adhesion mechanisms, a better understanding could provide insights into how cardiovascular disease, cancer and immune system disorders operate.

“The findings of the paper have deep implications for our understanding of force-regulated signaling,” added Humphries. “There is abundant biological evidence for profound effects of extracellular tensility and elasticity in controlling processes such as cancer cell proliferation and stem cell differentiation, but the mechanisms whereby this information is transduced across the outer cell membrane are unclear.”

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under grants AI44902 and GM065918. The conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

CITATION: Kong, F., et al., Cyclic Mechanical Reinforcement of Integrin-Ligand Interactions, Molecular Cell (2013). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2013.01.015

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

 

]]> John Toon 1 1360866757 2013-02-14 18:32:37 1475896417 2016-10-08 03:13:37 0 0 news A new study provides insights into how cells stick to each other and to other bodily structures, an essential function in the formation of tissue structures and organs. It’s thought that abnormalities in their ability to do so play an important role in a broad range of disorders.

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2013-02-14T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-14T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-14 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Cross Discusses Resources that Support Researchers]]> 27445 Every day, researchers at Tech are hard at work discovering new information and creating new devices. But what happens after the research is completed — and what impact does it have on the world around us?  

“Georgia Tech has always had a focus on industry and economic development,” said Steve Cross, executive vice president for research. “We seek to grow our impact in ways that directly support the research enterprise and maximize the benefit Georgia Tech brings to our region, state, nation and the world.”

In part two of this Q&A, Cross elaborates on the resources that Tech has in place to help faculty, staff and students ensure that their research has an impact once the lab work is completed.

What is an Interdisciplinary Research Institute supposed to be, and how does it contribute?  
An Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRI) is a research organization that includes representation from across Tech and that administratively reports to me. Each IRI is led by a research-active faculty member who is a thought leader in a core research area and is committed to supporting those doing research in that area. Additionally, IRIs provide laboratory and shared administrative support, as well as new collaborative research opportunities, to faculty-led research centers and groups that elect to be affiliated with the IRI.

What has Tech done so far to advance the commercialization/startup process?
After the strategic plan was published, we created strategic initiatives to look at what we could do to move us closer to our vision. One of the efforts was to experiment with accelerated startup formations, and that resulted in the Georgia Tech Integrated Program for Startups (GT:IPS), where faculty members can license their intellectual property much more quickly to create a startup company. Another example is Flashpoint, a startup accelerator for our region. Tech also won a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be among a select group of universities to host the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. I-Corps is an accelerator for NSF grantees at universities around the country.

In the past, 16 or 17 companies were created annually with help from Tech. Just last year, Tech participated in projects that supported the formation of more than 100 new companies. They are not all based on Institute research, but with a combination of Flashpoint, I-Corps, GT:IPS and other activities already in place, we have increased the number of startup companies being formed in our region. We have also attracted venture capital from parts of the country that have never before invested in the Southeast.

Why is economic development so woven into the research strategy? Are we talking about that more than we used to?
The Institute was created to support economic development in the state of Georgia, and, today, research universities are recognized as key elements in regional innovation ecosystems, which are vital to economic development. In this regard, we have several competitive advantages at Tech, including our state-sponsored economic development functions in the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2). Additionally, the Advanced Technology Development Center — incidentally the first and largest university-based incubator in the country — is consistently rated as one of the top 10 facilitators of startup companies. We now seek to link each core research area to economic development opportunities, while increasing our industry sponsorship and opening new facilities like the Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Building to directly support industry work.

It is also significant that our students are seeking more opportunities to engage in entrepreneurial activities. The InVenture Prize and Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Conference, in part, address this.

People are starting to use the term “innovation ecosystem.” How do you define that?
An ecosystem consists of many different organizations (companies, government entities, nonprofits, universities, etc.) each with different goals that are aligned to do something for the greater good. In this case, the greater good is to provide an environment in which innovation can thrive, while leading to successful commercialization activity and societal benefit in this region and beyond.

What progress has been made with regard to the innovation ecosystem?
Companies such as NCR, Panasonic, General Motors, Coca-Cola and AT&T are increasing their work with Tech as a direct result of our role in helping lead our regional innovation ecosystem. Other countries have taken note. The Republic of Korea has entered into an agreement with Tech to help incubate companies in Technology Square. Our Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and its regional partners recently dedicated the Lafayette Institute to pursue the same kind of opportunities in Europe.

The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) also plays a key role in our innovation ecosystem. GRA co-funds chairs through its Eminent Scholar Program. There are more than 75 Eminent Scholars across five universities in Georgia; more than half of them are at Georgia Tech. GRA also funds infrastructure for equipment and laboratories, supports our Georgia Tech-focused incubator (Venture Lab), and provides funding (via a competitive selection process) for startups from Georgia Tech research. GRA is a very important partner in our research strategy, and we are grateful for its ongoing support.

Five years from now, what successes are you hoping this initiative will produce?
Tech should have a more diversified sponsorship base and have doubled its level of industry-sponsored research. We should also have more facilities around the perimeter of campus where industry can work with us and engage with students. We will have an integrated industry relations team providing unparalleled service to our industry partners, and we’ll be regarded as one of the country’s most industry-friendly research universities. We will be recognized as the best in the world for use-inspired and translational research in our core research areas.
I’m confident that the strategic vision will become reality as long as we continue to develop a professional support structure to help faculty develop large proposals, access state-of-the-art facilities, complete the administrative requirements associated with many research contracts and move their research from the lab to the real-world.

Submit questions and comments regarding research at Tech at
www.gatech.edu/research/contact
. To read the Q&A, in its entirety, click here.

]]> Amelia Pavlik 1 1359994461 2013-02-04 16:14:21 1475896413 2016-10-08 03:13:33 0 0 news In part two of this Q&A, Steve Cross, executive vice president for research, elaborates on the resources that Tech has in place to help faculty, staff and students ensure that their research has an impact once the lab work is completed.

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2013-02-04T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-04T00:00:00-05:00 2013-02-04 00:00:00 Kirk Englehardt
Research Communications

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<![CDATA[Study Finds Substantial Microorganism Populations in the Upper Troposphere]]> 27303 In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers used genomic techniques to document the presence of significant numbers of living microorganisms – principally bacteria – in the middle and upper troposphere, that section of the atmosphere approximately four to six miles above the Earth’s surface.

Whether the microorganisms routinely inhabit this portion of the atmosphere – perhaps living on carbon compounds also found there – or whether they were simply lofted there from the Earth’s surface isn’t yet known. The finding is of interest to atmospheric scientists, because the microorganisms could play a role in forming ice that may impact weather and climate. Long-distance transport of the bacteria could also be of interest for disease transmission models.

The microorganisms were documented in air samples taken as part of NASA’s Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) program to study low- and high-altitude air masses associated with tropical storms. The sampling was done from a DC-8 aircraft over both land and ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and portions of the Atlantic Ocean. The sampling took place before, during and after two major tropical hurricanes – Earl and Karl – in 2010.

The research, which has been supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation, was published online January 28th by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We did not expect to find so many microorganisms in the troposphere, which is considered a difficult environment for life,” said Kostas Konstantinidis, an assistant professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “There seems to be quite a diversity of species, but not all bacteria make it into the upper troposphere.”

Aboard the aircraft, a filter system designed by the research team collected particles – including the microorganisms – from outside air entering the aircraft’s sampling probes. The filters were analyzed using genomic techniques including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gene sequencing, which allowed the researchers to detect the microorganisms and estimate their quantities without using conventional cell-culture techniques.

When the air masses studied originated over the ocean, the sampling found mostly marine bacteria. Air masses that originated over land had mostly terrestrial bacteria. The researchers also saw strong evidence that the hurricanes had a significant impact on the distribution and dynamics of microorganism populations.

The study showed that viable bacterial cells represented, on average, around 20 percent of the total particles detected in the size range of 0.25 to 1 microns in diameter. By at least one order of magnitude, bacteria outnumbered fungi in the samples, and the researchers detected 17 different bacteria taxa – including some that are capable of metabolizing the carbon compounds that are ubiquitous in the atmosphere – such as oxalic acid.

The microorganisms could have an impact on cloud formation by supplementing (or replacing) the abiotic particles that normally serve as nuclei for forming ice crystals, said Athanasios Nenes, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

“In the absence of dust or other materials that could provide a good nucleus for ice formation, just having a small number of these microorganisms around could facilitate the formation of ice at these altitudes and attract surrounding moisture,” Nenes said. “If they are the right size for forming ice, they could affect the clouds around them.”

The microorganisms likely reach the troposphere through the same processes that launch dust and sea salt skyward. “When sea spray is generated, it can carry bacteria because there are a lot of bacteria and organic materials on the surface of the ocean,” Nenes said.

The research brought together microbiologists, atmospheric modelers and environmental researchers using the latest technologies for studying DNA. For the future, the researchers would like to know if certain types of bacteria are more suited than others for surviving at these altitudes. The researchers also want to understand the role played by the microorganisms – and determine whether or not they are carrying on metabolic functions in the troposphere.

“For these organisms, perhaps, the conditions may not be that harsh,” said Konstantinidis. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there is active life and growth in clouds, but this is something we cannot say for sure now.”

Other researchers have gathered biological samples from atop mountains or from snow samples, but gathering biological material from a jet aircraft required a novel experimental setup. The researchers also had to optimize protocols for extracting DNA from levels of biomass far lower than what they typically study in soils or lakes.

“We have demonstrated that our technique works, and that we can get some interesting information,” Nenes said. “A big fraction of the atmospheric particles that traditionally would have been expected to be dust or sea salt may actually be bacteria. At this point we are just seeing what’s up there, so this is just the beginning of what we hope to do.”

The Georgia Tech team also included Natasha DeLeon-Rodriguez and Luis-Miguel Rodriguez-R from the Georgia Tech School of Biology, Terry Lathem from the Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and James Barazesh and Michael Bergin from the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Georgia Tech team received assistance from researchers Bruce Anderson, Andreas Beyersdorf, and Luke Ziemba with the Chemistry and Dynamics Branch/Science Directorate at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

CITATION: Natasha DeLeon-Rodriguez, et al., “Microbiome of the upper troposphere: Species composition and prevalence, effects of tropical storms, and atmospheric implications,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2013): www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1212089110

This research was supported, in part, by NASA grant number NNX10AM63G, by a GAANN Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, a NASA-NESSF fellowship, and by a National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate research fellowship. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NASA, the Department of Education or the NSF.

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1359310631 2013-01-27 18:17:11 1475896413 2016-10-08 03:13:33 0 0 news In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers used genomic techniques to document the presence of significant numbers of living microorganisms – principally bacteria – in the middle and upper troposphere, that section of the atmosphere approximately four to six miles above the Earth’s surface.

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2013-01-28T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-28T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-28 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Cross Explains Tech’s Evolving Research Strategy]]> 27445 From leading the way in cybersecurity to improving flood predictions in developing nations, Georgia Tech researchers are internationally known for their discoveries.  

But there is still much to be done to make it easier for faculty members, students and others to pursue the well-respected research that occurs at Tech.   

“Our goal is for people around the world to ask ‘What does Georgia Tech think?’ when they have a question or problem,” said Steve Cross, executive vice president for research. “To do this, we need to find new ways for faculty, students and post docs to explore and solve exciting problems by working together across traditional academic disciplines.”  

In this two-part Q&A series, Cross will discuss Tech’s relationship with research and respond to common questions. In this installment, he explains the Institute’s evolving research strategy and the establishment of 12 core research areas.

Is research separate from the educational component of Georgia Tech?  
They are intimately linked. We do research because it is reputationally important (helping attract the best faculty, students, and postdocs) and because of its importance in economic development. But, of course, research is also key to enhancing our educational role. Our main product is, and will always be, well-educated students. It is significant that this focus remains connected to our history, specifically the initial shops and foundries of Tech. When the Institute opened its doors, students worked in those shops and foundries in parallel with their coursework — as is the case today with the research many of our students do in campus laboratories.

What is Georgia Tech’s research strategy?
The research strategy has three objectives. The first is pursuing transformative research. We want to make it even easier to pursue research that is game-changing and leading edge, and have people asking, “What does Georgia Tech think?” The second objective is strengthening collaborative partnerships with industry, government and nonprofits. We want to be viewed as leaders who define grand challenges and engage communities in collaborative problem solving. The third objective is maximizing the economic and societal impact of our research. This strategy involves the entire Tech research enterprise: the colleges and schools, the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the Enterprise Innovation Institute, our contracting and licensing operations, our development and support functions, and our Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs). We strive to be a research environment that is powered by ideas, led by faculty, energized by students and supported by professionals as “one Georgia Tech.”

What do you see as your role in this?
My main role, and that of my team, is to support those who do the research. We are behind the scenes helping make others successful. I also have an important role in communicating and marketing the impact of our research to various stakeholders, including sponsors and alumni. In addition, I serve as an internal advocate for faculty and students, and sometimes I challenge us to do more than we may think possible. 

How do you define interdisciplinary research? How does the Institute support it?
An interdisciplinary pursuit can be contrasted with a multidisciplinary one where two or more existing disciplines are involved in achieving some outcome. IRIs were created to provide intellectual crossroads where different academic pursuits could merge to explore and solve problems. They provide an environment where interaction among traditional academic disciplines is natural. It is the intersection of these fields at the boundaries of their knowledge that creates new ways of thinking about problems and new ways to solve them. 

Explain our 12 core research areas.
Shortly after I was selected for this position, I was looking at a website that listed many of the centers, labs and groups across Tech. There was not much rhyme or reason to how they were grouped, and many were not even listed. Unless you had intimate knowledge about the Institute’s internal structure, it did not make much sense. Given my role in communicating and marketing our research capabilities, I wanted a better way to describe our research to the outside world. So, with help from the associate deans of research and school chairs, we constructed a master list of all the centers, labs, groups and institutes. A list of around 300 dictated that we group many into similar thematic areas. Out of this distillation process came 12 areas. It is not cast in concrete and can change when it makes sense to describe it differently. 

Submit questions and comments regarding research at Tech at www.gatech.edu/research/contact. To read the Q&A, in its entirety, click here.

]]> Amelia Pavlik 1 1358947483 2013-01-23 13:24:43 1475896409 2016-10-08 03:13:29 0 0 news From leading the way in cybersecurity to improving flood predictions in developing nations, Georgia Tech researchers are internationally known for their discoveries.

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2013-01-21T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-21T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-21 00:00:00 Kirk Englehardt
Research Communications

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<![CDATA[Craig Forest awarded Engineer of the Year in Education]]> 27195 The Georgia Society of Professional Engineer (GSPE) and the 2013 Georgia Engineers Week Planning Committee has selected Dr. Craig Forest as the 2013 Engineer of the Year in Education recipient.  Dr. Forest's nomination entry was selected by engineers representing various engineering organizations and educational institutions.

The Georgia Engineers Week is a cooperative effort of the professional engineering organizations in the State of Georgia, and is coordinated through the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers. This week is dedicated to the annual Engineers Week programs in the State of Georgia and additional programs across the Nation. These programs are designed to promote the engineering disciplines to students, help expand public recognition of the engineering profession and celebrate engineering accomplishments.

The GSPE and the Engineers Week Planning Committee will host the Annual Engineers Week Awards Gala on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta, during which Dr. Forest will recieve his well-deserved award.

Congratulations to Dr. Forest for being selected as the Engineer of the Year in Education.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1358426157 2013-01-17 12:35:57 1475896409 2016-10-08 03:13:29 0 0 news Craig Forest, PhD, awarded Engineer of the Year in Education - Presented by the Georgia Society of Professional Engineer (GSPE)

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2013-01-16T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-16T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-16 00:00:00 Melissa Zbeeb

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68626 68626 image <![CDATA[Craig Forest, PhD - Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering]]> image/jpeg 1449177185 2015-12-03 21:13:05 1475894597 2016-10-08 02:43:17 <![CDATA[Forest lab]]>
<![CDATA[Study Quantifies the Size of Holes Antibacterials Create in Cell Walls to Kill Bacteria]]> 27303 The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has initiated a quest for alternatives to conventional antibiotics. One potential alternative is PlyC, a potent enzyme that kills the bacteria that causes strep throat and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. PlyC operates by locking onto the surface of a bacteria cell and chewing a hole in the cell wall large enough for the bacteria’s inner membrane to protrude from the cell, ultimately causing the cell to burst and die.

Research has shown that alternative antimicrobials such as PlyC can effectively kill bacteria. However, fundamental questions remain about how bacteria respond to the holes that these therapeutics make in their cell wall and what size holes bacteria can withstand before breaking apart. Answering those questions could improve the effectiveness of current antibacterial drugs and initiate the development of new ones.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland recently conducted a study to try to answer those questions. The researchers created a biophysical model of the response of a Gram-positive bacterium to the formation of a hole in its cell wall. Then they used experimental measurements to validate the theory, which predicted that a hole in the bacteria cell wall larger than 15 to 24 nanometers in diameter would cause the cell to lyse, or burst. These small holes are approximately one-hundredth the diameter of a typical bacterial cell.  

“Our model correctly predicted that the membrane and cell contents of Gram-positive bacteria cells explode out of holes in cell walls that exceed a few dozen nanometers. This critical hole size, validated by experiments, is much larger than the holes Gram-positive bacteria use to transport molecules necessary for their survival, which have been estimated to be less than 7 nanometers in diameter,” said Joshua Weitz, an associate professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech. Weitz also holds an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech.

The study was published online on Jan. 9, 2013 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The work was supported by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Common Gram-positive bacteria that infect humans include Streptococcus, which causes strep throat; Staphylococcus, which causes impetigo; and Clostridium, which causes botulism and tetanus. Gram-negative bacteria include Escherichia, which causes urinary tract infections; Vibrio, which causes cholera; and Neisseria, which causes gonorrhea.

Gram-positive bacteria differ from Gram-negative bacteria in the structure of their cell walls. The cell wall constitutes the outer layer of Gram-positive bacteria, whereas the cell wall lies between the inner and outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and is therefore protected from direct exposure to the environment.

Georgia Tech biology graduate student Gabriel Mitchell, Georgia Tech physics professor Kurt Wiesenfeld and Weitz developed a biophysical theory of the response of a Gram-positive bacterium to the formation of a hole in its cell wall. The model detailed the effect of pressure, bending and stretching forces on the changing configuration of the cell membrane due to a hole. The force associated with bending and stretching pulls the membrane inward, while the pressure from the inside of the cell pushes the membrane outward through the hole.

“We found that bending forces act to keep the membrane together and push it back inside, but a sufficiently large hole enables the bending forces to be overpowered by the internal pressure forces and the membrane begins to escape out and the cell contents follow,” said Weitz.

The balance between the bending and pressure forces led to the model prediction that holes 15 to 24 nanometers in diameter or larger would cause a bacteria cell to burst. To test the theory, Daniel Nelson, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, used transmission electron microscopy images to measure the size of holes created in lysed Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria cells following PlyC exposure.

Nelson found holes in the lysed bacteria cells that ranged in diameter from 22 to 180 nanometers, with a mean diameter of 68 nanometers. These experimental measurements agreed with the researchers’ theoretical prediction of critical hole sizes that cause bacterial cell death.

According to the researchers, their theoretical model is the first to consider the effects of cell wall thickness on lysis.

“Because lysis events occur most often at thinner points in the cell wall, cell wall thickness may play a role in suppressing lysis by serving as a buffer against the formation of large holes,” said Mitchell.

The combination of theory and experiments used in this study provided insights into the effect of defects on a cell’s viability and the mechanisms used by enzymes to disrupt homeostasis and cause bacteria cell death. To further understand the mechanisms behind enzyme-induced lysis, the researchers plan to measure membrane dynamics as a function of hole geometry in the future.

CITATION: Mitchell GJ, Wiesenfeld K, Nelson DC, Weitz JS, “Critical cell wall hole size for lysis in Gram-positive bacteria,” J R Soc Interface 20120892 (2013): http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2012.0892.

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: Abby Robinson

]]> John Toon 1 1357770292 2013-01-09 22:24:52 1475896406 2016-10-08 03:13:26 0 0 news Researchers recently created a biophysical model of the response of a Gram-positive bacterium to the formation of a hole in its cell wall, then used experimental measurements to validate the theory, which predicted that a hole in the bacteria cell wall larger than 15 to 24 nanometers in diameter would cause the cell to lyse, or burst.

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2013-01-09T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-09T00:00:00-05:00 2013-01-09 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Petit Institute Announces 2013 Suddath Symposium Award Winners]]> 27195 The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience awarded the 2013 Suddath Symposium Awards to three graduate students for their grand achievements in biological or biochemical research at the molecular or cellular level.

"The applicant pool was extremely competitive and we received the most number of applications ever this year," said Nick Hud, associate director for the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The first place award was given to Melissa Kinney who is pursuing her PhD in biomedical engineering in the lab of Todd McDevitt, PhD.  Kinney was selected from amongst numerous submissions in the most competitive selection process to date for the award.  Her research is focused on understanding the complexity of embryonic stem cell interactions within three dimensional microenvironments in order to control spatial and temporal aspects of pluripotent cell fate and morphogenesis and ultimately enable the derivation of complex, functional tissues for the replacement or regeneration of damaged tissue.  Kinney was a NSF Pre-Doctoral Fellow 2009-2012, and more recently was awarded an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. She currently has six publications, one more currently in revision, and is the coauthor of a textbook chapter on pluripotent stem cells, and co-inventor on a patent.
 
“I am very honored to receive the prestigious Suddath award,” said Kinney.  “I am thankful to the reviewers for recognizing my accomplishments and grateful for all of the opportunities and resources that have been provided through my advisor, Todd McDevitt, as well as through Georgia Tech’s BME department and the Petit Institute.”

Kinney will receive a $1,000 as the first place awardee and will give a research presentation to the Petit Institute community at the 2013 Suddath Symposium to be held on February 21, 2013 at Georgia Tech.  She will also have her name added to the Suddath Award recognition plaque at the Petit Institute.

“Melissa is a stellar student in all regards - diligent, creative, inquisitive and persistent.  Her innate leadership skills and intuitions consistently have and will guide her intellectual pursuits as she continues to develop into a successful, young independent scientist," said her advisor, Todd McDevitt, PhD.

Berkley Gryder received the 2nd place award for his research in bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry and drug design in the lab of Yomi Oyelere, PhD. He has developed gold nanoparticle conjugates to target prostate cancer, novel proteasome inhibitors for treating cancers and M. tuberculosis infections, triazole-based histone deacetylase inhibitors for cancer and antimalarial treatment, and duel-acting conjugates that bind hormone receptors for drug delivery.  During his time at Georgia Tech, Gryder has been a CD4 GAANN fellow, and most recently a School of Chemistry and Biochemistry GAANN fellow.  Over the past 3 years, these projects have resulted in 5 publications (with 4 more in preparation) and 3 patent applications.

James Kratzer, a doctoral student in the school of Biology, was recognized for a 3rd place award for his leadership in the lab of Eric Gaucher, PhD, where he conducts research in the field of evolutionary synthetic biology, protein engineering, ancestral sequence reconstruction and directed evolution.  Kratzer was a member of the TI:GER program in biotechnology and he played a major role in the establishment of General Genomics, a startup company that has recently received funding from Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs.

Kratzer and Gryder will each receive cash awards.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1355932307 2012-12-19 15:51:47 1475896406 2016-10-08 03:13:26 0 0 news Three trainees honored from McDevitt, Oyelere and Gaucher labs

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2012-12-19T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-19T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-19 00:00:00 Colly Mitchell

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178721 178721 image <![CDATA[2013 Suddath Award Winner, Melissa Kinney, with Lee Suddath]]> image/png 1449179039 2015-12-03 21:43:59 1475894825 2016-10-08 02:47:05 <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]> <![CDATA[McDevitt Research Lab]]> <![CDATA[Oyelere lab]]> <![CDATA[Gaucher Group]]>
<![CDATA[2012 Petit Institute “Above and Beyond” Award Winners Announced]]> 27195 The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience announced the winners of its annual “Above and Beyond” awards given annually to staff, a junior faculty member, a senior faculty member, a staff member, and, for the first time in 2012, to three graduate student or postdoc trainees.

Todd Streelman, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Biology, received the senior faculty award for his time and dedication in the planning phase one of the portion of the bio-complex on Georgia Tech’s biotechnology campus.

Manu Platt, PhD, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, was the junior faculty member recognized for his leadership and organization of the new Graduate and Postdoc (GaP) Seminar Series as well as numerous minority outreach activities, including the new ENGAGE program and diversity events for Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

The trainee awards were given to graduate students, Ashley Allen, Stacie Gutowski and Jenna Wilson for their dedication to the broader community through graduate student group activities as well as volunteering.

Allen, from the lab of Bob Guldberg, PhD, was recognized for her numerous volunteer activities over the years.  She served as chair and member of Bioengineering Graduate Student Association (BGSAC) for two years, and as chair of the outreach committee for the Bioengineering and Bioscience Unified Graduate Students (BBUGS).  

Gutowski, who also gives generously of her time to volunteering in many capacities, has been very active in BBUGS, serving as the organization’s co-chair for two years as well as the co-chair for the education and outreach committee.  She was the co-chair for the biotechnology career fair and served as a trainee and then a mentor for the graduate leadership program (GLP) on campus.  Gutowski's adviser, Andres Garcia, PhD, nominated her for the award.

Wilson, a doctoral student in the lab of Todd McDevitt, PhD, is another standout amongst Petit Institute trainees.  She served as event chair of BGSAC, volunteered for numerous outreach activities with BBUGS, was a leader for the IGERT mentoring meetings, a graduate student mentor for Georgia Tech’s BMES, a mentor for Georgia Tech’s Women in Engineering and served on the graduate recruitment committee for BMES.

The staff awards were given to James Godard, Administrative Manager II, and Matthew Myskowski, web developer for the Petit Institute.

The "Above and Beyond" Awards were started in 2009 to recognize team-based individuals who demonstrate exemplary service to the institute and contribute to its collegial, collaborative environment.  All awardees are selected by the Petit Institute Faculty Steering Committee.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1355932611 2012-12-19 15:56:51 1475896406 2016-10-08 03:13:26 0 0 news Senior faculty, junior faculty, trainees and staff recognized

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2012-12-19T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-19T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-19 00:00:00 Colly Mitchell

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178711 178711 image <![CDATA[2012 Petit Institute "Above and Beyond" Trainee Award Winners - Jenna Wilson, Stacie Gutowski and Ashley Allen]]> image/png 1449179039 2015-12-03 21:43:59 1475894825 2016-10-08 02:47:05 <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech's Bioengineering Graduate Program Accepts Nominations for Annual Awards]]> 27195 Georgia Tech's Bioengineering (BioE) graduate program is accepting nominations for its annual best student paper, best PhD thesis and best advisor awards. 

Criteria
Best BioE Student Paper

        
Best BioE Ph.D. Thesis


Best BioE Advisor


Nominations should be submitted to Chris Ruffin in the BioE Office. Nominations will be reviewed by the BioE Faculty Advisory Committee and winners will be announced at the BioE Reception on March 8, 2013 (Recruitment Day).

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1355301801 2012-12-12 08:43:21 1475896402 2016-10-08 03:13:22 0 0 news GT's BioE Program accepts nominations for annual awards - January 31st deadline for nominations

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2012-12-12T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-12T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-12 00:00:00 Chris Ruffin

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120721 120721 image <![CDATA[Bioengineering Graduate Students]]> image/jpeg 1449178279 2015-12-03 21:31:19 1475894741 2016-10-08 02:45:41 <![CDATA[BioEngineering website]]>
<![CDATA[Seven Named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science]]> 27303 Seven Georgia Institute of Technology faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. They were awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

This year’s AAAS Fellows were announced in the journal Science on November 30, 2012. The new AAAS Fellows from Georgia Tech are:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world.

]]> John Toon 1 1354476264 2012-12-02 19:24:24 1475896398 2016-10-08 03:13:18 0 0 news Seven Georgia Tech faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society.

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2012-12-02T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-02T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-02 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center Awards 11 Collaborative Seed Grants]]> 27195 The Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center recently awarded 11 seed grants, totaling $630,000, for promising new research in regenerative medicine. The seed grants focus on how the body—including bone, muscle, nerves, blood vessels and tissues—can harness its own potential to heal or regenerate following trauma or disease.


“We looked for projects along the innovation spectrum, including early-stage projects for which the potential payoffs justified taking the risk and projects supported by preliminary data that were at an advanced preclinical or early clinical stage,” said Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center Co-Director Robert Guldberg, a mechanical engineering professor at Georgia Tech. Guldberg is also executive director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech.


Twenty-eight seed grant proposals from across the Georgia Tech and Emory campuses were submitted and those with the strongest potential for impacting the field of regenerative medicine were selected for funding.


“We are very excited that the funded proposals will initiate new partnerships among regenerative medicine researchers at institutions across Atlanta,” said Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center Co-Director W. Robert Taylor, the Marcus Chair in Vascular Medicine and Director of the Division of Cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine. Taylor is also a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.


The collaborative regenerative medicine initiative at Georgia Tech and Emory University began in 1998 with the establishment of the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues (GTEC), a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. Since then, more than 15 technologies have been licensed, 13 startup companies have been formed and three clinical trials are under way.


Today, more than 40 researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University are working together as members of the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center, which launched in 2011, to develop integrated technologies and therapies that harness the body’s own cells and repair mechanisms to heal itself.


An interdisciplinary team of stem cell biologists, stem cell engineers and a surgeon from Georgia Tech, Emory University and Morehouse College received one of the $50,000 seed grants. The team plans to improve the quality of stem cells derived from the bone marrow of individuals with critical limb ischemia so that they can be used as a cellular therapy to prevent amputation in this patient population. Critical limb ischemia—a severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities that reduces blood flow—affects more than 500,000 people annually and can cause pain, tissue loss and lead to amputation.


“Mesenchymal stem cells derived from the bone marrow of healthy individuals have been shown to support new blood vessel growth and help re-establish blood flow to an affected area, but the quality of mesenchymal stem cells in individuals with critical limb ischemia is known to be poor because of the typical patient’s age and medical condition,” said Luke Brewster, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Emory University.


To overcome this challenge, the research team plans to develop techniques for rejuvenating mesenchymal stem cells cultured from amputated ischemic patient limbs in a novel manner that will enhance cell expansion and reduce the inflammatory response.


In addition to Brewster, the research team also includes Todd McDevitt, an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University; Ian Copland, an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University; and Alex Peister, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Morehouse College.


Julie Champion, an assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, received a $50,000 seed grant to create an innovative biomaterial capable of suppressing immune activity in the body. The material, which is made from engineered regulatory T-cell proteins, will operate through direct contact with immune cells.


The success of many regenerative medicine therapies is limited because the introduction of foreign biomaterials, cells or tissues into the body causes an inflammatory response. According to Champion, the new material she is developing could be incorporated into regenerative biomaterials directly, combined with cell or tissue therapies, or used as pre-treatments prior to regenerative therapy to suppress immune activity.


“This project demonstrates a new biomaterials platform that will interact directly with the immune system in both a physical and biological manner and could lead to innovative immune therapies for injured or sick patients that require regenerative medicine to heal and restore function,” said Champion.


A committee of investigators from Georgia Tech, Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the University of Georgia awarded the grants that spanned basic science and translational research to researchers from a broad range of disciplines including engineering, medicine and biology.


Scores were based on the following primary criteria:


“The seed grants also allow the unique blend of engineers, scientists and clinicians at Georgia Tech and Emory University who have a successful history of collaboration in regenerative engineering and medicine to help train the next generation of leaders in this rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field,” said Guldberg.

By: Abby Robinson, writer

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1354182015 2012-11-29 09:40:15 1475896398 2016-10-08 03:13:18 0 0 news Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center Awards 11 Collaborative Seed Grants, totaling $630,000. Grants focus on how the body harnesses its own potential to heal or regenerate following trauma or disease.

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2012-12-20T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-20T00:00:00-05:00 2012-12-20 00:00:00 Megan McDevitt
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience

John Toon
Institute Communications

 

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178371 178351 178361 178371 image <![CDATA[Julie Champion]]> image/jpeg 1449179039 2015-12-03 21:43:59 1475894825 2016-10-08 02:47:05 178351 image <![CDATA[Todd McDevitt, Luke Brewster, Jenna Wilson]]> image/jpeg 1449179039 2015-12-03 21:43:59 1475894825 2016-10-08 02:47:05 178361 image <![CDATA[Bob Guldberg]]> image/jpeg 1449179039 2015-12-03 21:43:59 1475894825 2016-10-08 02:47:05 <![CDATA[Regenerative Engineering & Medicine Website]]> <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]> <![CDATA[McDevitt Research Lab]]> <![CDATA[Champion Research Lab]]> <![CDATA[W. Robert Taylor, Director]]> <![CDATA[Guldberg Musculoskeletal Research Lab]]>
<![CDATA[Research Will Study How Diversity Helps Microbial Communities Respond to Change]]> 27303 Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how complex microbial systems use their genetic diversity to respond to human-induced change. The work is important because these microbial communities play critical roles in the environment, breaking down pollutants, recycling nutrients – and serving as major sources of nitrogen and carbon.

Despite the importance of the microbes, relatively few among the thousands of species that make up a typical microbial community have been studied extensively. The relatively unknown organisms within these communities may have genes that could help address critical environmental, energy and other challenges.

“We are all dependent on these microbes,” said Kostas Konstantinidis, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the grant’s principal investigator. “There are many different species and a huge amount of diversity out there. This project will allow us to look at the details of how this diversity is generated, how redundant it is and how these microbes are changing in response to perturbations in the environment.”

The funding, from the NSF’s “Dimensions of Biodiversity” program, will support a collaborative effort involving Konstantinidis and two other Georgia Tech researchers: Eberhardt Voit and Jim Spain. Voit holds the David D. Flanagan Chair in Biological Systems within the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. Spain is a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The research will initially focus on Lake Lanier, a large man-made lake located near Atlanta. Beyond the experimental work, the research will involve extensive mathematical modeling of the complex microbial communities.

“We want to see how the microbial communities of the lake change over time, and how the perturbations affect that,” said Konstantinidis, who holds the Carlton S. Wilder Chair in Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. “We then want to extend our understanding to other ecosystems, such as the Gulf of Mexico.”

The researchers will set up mesocosms – bioreactors – in the laboratory with microbial populations from Lake Lanier. They will feed these populations pollutants such as hydrocarbons, antibiotics and pesticides to see how they respond and how they deal with compounds to which they may not have been exposed.

“Sometimes they may not have the genes to break down the pollutants and may not encode the right enzymes,” Konstantinidis said. “But if you give them enough time, these microbes somehow innovate. We want to understand the genetic mechanisms that allow the microbes to break down a compound that they are seeing for the first time.”

The grant will allow the Georgia Tech researchers to expand knowledge of “rare” microbes, largely unknown organisms that may harbor useful genes.

“We think these unusual microbes may be the key ones,” Konstantinidis said. “Though they may be low in abundance, the whole community may depend on them. When you have a new pollutant, these rare microbes may become more important by providing the genetic diversity needed.”

Extending this understanding will be challenging, however, because few species can be cultured in the laboratory. That difficulty is leading Konstantinidis and his team to develop new tools that allow studying the organisms in the field, without culturing them under laboratory settings. Addressing those challenges may lead to the creation of additional techniques that could benefit other areas of biology, engineering and medicine.

“One of the most common techniques is to take the microbial DNA and decode it,” he explained. “From the DNA, we can tell what the organism is and what it may be doing in the environment.”

But studying DNA brings another set of challenges. The genes are rarely recovered intact based on these genomic techniques, and frequently include only part of the genome or are contaminated by DNA from other species.

“Bioinformatics is a big issue for us, because that is how we can put the pieces together,” Konstantinidis explained. “We have to make sense of pieces of DNA from perhaps thousands of organisms. This is where biology, computing and engineering are merging to find clever ways to accomplish such tasks.”

Part of investigating how the microbial community responds to change will include assessing the effects of rising temperatures. Will global climate change cause increased respiration among the microbes and therefore boost carbon dioxide output, or will temperature change lead the organisms to store carbon, pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere?

“A big part of the scientific community is working on questions like this to get a better understanding and better model of how microbial systems will respond,” Konstantinidis said.

Modeling will be important to understand not only how microbial communities will respond to broad climate changes, but also how they might react to such dramatic perturbations as large oil spills.

“From small experiments in the lab, the goal is to eventually model whole ecosystems – how Lake Lanier works or how the Gulf of Mexico works in terms of the microbes that are there,” he said. “We want to have a more predictive model of how these communities that are so diverse will respond to a perturbation like an oil spill or rising tempeartures. With so many thousands of organisms from different species, we need modeling to put it all together.”

This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant DEB-1241046 . The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).
Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1353932999 2012-11-26 12:29:59 1475896394 2016-10-08 03:13:14 0 0 news Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how complex microbial systems use their genetic diversity to respond to human-induced change. The work is important because these microbial communities play critical roles in the environment, breaking down pollutants, recycling nutrients – and serving as major sources of nitrogen and carbon.

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2012-11-26T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-26T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-26 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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173011 173021 173031 173041 173011 image <![CDATA[Microbial diversity]]> image/jpeg 1449178999 2015-12-03 21:43:19 1475894814 2016-10-08 02:46:54 173021 image <![CDATA[Microbial diversity2]]> image/jpeg 1449178999 2015-12-03 21:43:19 1475894814 2016-10-08 02:46:54 173031 image <![CDATA[Microbial diversity3]]> image/jpeg 1449178999 2015-12-03 21:43:19 1475894814 2016-10-08 02:46:54 173041 image <![CDATA[Microbial diversity4]]> image/jpeg 1449178999 2015-12-03 21:43:19 1475894814 2016-10-08 02:46:54
<![CDATA[Microneedle Patch May Advance World Measles Vaccination Effort]]> 27303 Measles vaccine given with painless and easy-to-administer microneedle patches can immunize against measles at least as well as vaccine given with conventional hypodermic needles, according to research done by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the study, the researchers developed a technique to dry and stabilize the measles vaccine – which depends on a live attenuated virus – and showed that it remained effective for at least 30 days after being placed onto the microneedles. They also demonstrated that the dried vaccine was quickly released in the skin and able to prompt a potent immune response in an animal model.

The microneedle technique could provide a new tool for international immunization programs against measles, which killed nearly 140,000 children in 2010. The research was reported online October 5 in the journal Vaccine, and will appear in a special issue of the journal. The research was supported by the Georgia Research Alliance – and indirectly by the Division of Viral Diseases and Animal Resources Branch of the CDC, and by the National Institutes of Health through its support of efforts to develop a microneedle-based influenza vaccine.  

“We showed in this study that measles vaccine delivered using a microneedle patch produced an immune response that is indistinguishable from the response produced when the vaccine is delivered subcutaneously,” said Chris Edens, the study’s first author and a graduate student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Measles immunization programs now use conventional hypodermic needles to deliver the vaccine. Large global immunization programs therefore require significant logistical support because the vaccine must be kept refrigerated, large numbers of needles and syringes must be shipped, and the ten-dose vaccine vials must be reconstituted with sterile water before use.

Because it requires a hypodermic needle injection, measles immunization programs must be carried out by trained medical personnel. Finally, used needles and syringes must be properly disposed of to prevent potential disease transmission or reuse.

Use of microneedle patches could eliminate the need to transport needles, syringes and sterile water, reducing logistical demands. Vaccination could be done by personnel with less medical training, who would simply apply the patches to the skin and remove them after several minutes, making possible door-to-door campaigns similar to those used in polio vaccination. Single-use patches could also reduce the waste of vaccine that occurs when all ten doses in a vial cannot be used.

“A major advantage would be the ease of delivery,” said Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and one of the inventors of the microneedle patch. “Microneedles would allow us to move away from central locations staffed by health care personnel to the use of minimally-trained personnel who would go out to homes to administer the vaccine.”

Many countries in the Western Hemisphere have eliminated endemic transmission of the disease, though travelers often serve as sources for imported cases. However, measles remains the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death among children elsewhere in the world, prompting interest in alternative vaccination techniques.

“Measles is extremely infectious, and we need an immunization coverage rate of around 95 percent to interrupt its transmission,” said Dr. Paul Rota, Measles Laboratory Team Lead of CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases and one of the study’s co-authors. “Microneedles represent a real potential game-changer in developing strategies to get high global coverage for a measles vaccine.”

In their study, the CDC-Georgia Tech team first faced the challenge of converting a liquid vaccine to a formulation that could be readily applied to stainless steel microneedles and dried for packaging. The work was made more difficult by the fact that the vaccine contains an attenuated live virus whose integrity had to be maintained.

The researchers began by studying materials that could be combined with the vaccine to improve its stability in dry form. Ultimately, they obtained the best results by adding a sugar known as trehalose to the liquid vaccine. That formulation was applied to the microneedles – which were about 750 microns long – by dipping them into the solution and allowing the liquid to dry. The vaccine dose on the microneedles was controlled by the number of times the microneedles were dipped into the solution.

Cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) used in the study were divided into seven groups of five animals each for the testing. The comparison showed that vaccination with the microneedle technique produced an immune response that was statistically indistinguishable from that produced by vaccination with the hypodermic needles.

“The two major accomplishments of this study are that the vaccine can be stabilized on microneedles, and that it could dissolve in the skin to provide a good immune response,” Rota said.

To advance the microneedle technique, the researchers are now working to improve the stability of the dry vaccine with the goal of eliminating the need for refrigeration. They are also studying the use of polymer-based microneedles that would fully dissolve in the skin, removing the need to dispose of potentially infectious waste.

Ultimately, a microneedle-based measles vaccine will need to be evaluated for safety and efficacy in a non-human primate model and in several clinical trials before it can be used routinely in humans.

Microneedles are also being studied for administration of vaccines against influenza, polio, rotavirus, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B. The microneedle measles vaccine would likely find its first use in the developing world as part of measles elimination campaigns, and would probably not replace the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine used in the United States.

“This represents a different direction for us, which is campaign-mode global health vaccination,” said Prausnitz. “I see the greatest impact of the measles patch being in developing-country vaccination programs where the logistical advantages of this simple-to-use technology will have the most public health benefit.”

In addition to those already mentioned, the research team included Marcus L. Collins and Jessica Ayers, both from the CDC.

This research is supported by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) with indirect support from the Division of Viral Diseases and Animal Resources Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH, CDC or GRA.

Mark Prausnitz is an inventor on patents and has a significant financial interest in a company that is developing microneedle-based products. This potential conflict of interest has been disclosed and is being managed by Georgia Tech and Emory University.

CITATION: Edens C., et al. “Measles vaccination using a microneedle patch,” Vaccine (2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.09.062

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  30332-0181

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu)

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1354015503 2012-11-27 11:25:03 1475896394 2016-10-08 03:13:14 0 0 news Measles vaccine given with painless and easy-to-administer microneedle patches can immunize against measles at least as well as vaccine given with conventional hypodermic needles, according to research done by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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2012-11-27T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-27T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-27 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[NIH awards Georgia malaria research consortium up to $19.4 million contract]]> 27560 The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a five-year contract of up to $19.4 million, depending on contract options exercised, to establish the Malaria Host-Pathogen Interaction Center (MaHPIC).

The consortium includes researchers at Emory University, with partners at the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia (UGA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University will administer the contract.

The MaHPIC team will use the comprehensive research approach of systems biology to study and catalog in molecular detail how malaria parasites interact with their human and animal hosts. This knowledge will be fundamental to developing and evaluating new diagnostic tools, antimalarial drugs and vaccines for different types of malaria. The project will integrate data generated by malaria research, functional genomics, proteomics, lipidomics and metabolomics cores via informatics and computational modeling cores.

MaHPIC combines Emory investigators’ interdisciplinary experience in malaria research, metabolomics, lipidomics and human and non-human primate immunology and pathogenesis with UGA’s expertise in pathogen bioinformatics and large database systems, and Georgia Tech’s experience in mathematical modeling and systems biology. The CDC will provide support in proteomics and malaria research, including nonhuman primate and vector/mosquito infections.

The principal investigator is Mary Galinski, PhD, professor of medicine, infectious diseases and global health at Emory University School of Medicine and director of Emory’s International Center for Malaria Research, Education & Development (ICMRED). She has been leading malaria research projects at the Emory Vaccine Center and Yerkes for 15 years.

“We are thankful to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for recognizing the enormous potential of taking a systems biology approach to studying malaria infections,” Galinski says.

“This project will help us better understand malaria as a disease in depth and pave the way for new preventive and therapeutic measures. We expect to provide a groundbreaking wealth of information that will address current challenges in fighting malaria. The Georgia team we have assembled is outstanding and we also look forward to working closely with prominent international partners from malaria endemic countries.”

A prestigious international Scientific Consultation Group is also involved, and met with the MaHPIC team at Emory recently, following the annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference held in Atlanta.

The MaHPIC project involves studying both nonhuman primate infections and clinical samples from humans around the world. For the study of malaria, “systems biology” means first collecting comprehensive data on how a Plasmodium parasite infection produces changes in host and parasite genes, proteins, lipids, the immune response and metabolism.

Computational researchers will then design mathematical models to simulate and analyze what’s happening during an infection and to find patterns that predict the course of the disease and its severity. Together, the insights will help guide the development of new interventions. Co-infections and morbidities will also come into play, as well as different cultural and environmental backgrounds of the communities involved.

The team will use metabolomics techniques that will allow scientists to detect, analyze and make crucial associations with thousands of chemicals detectable in the blood via mass spectrometry. The techniques were developed at Emory by Dean Jones, PhD, professor and director of the Clinical Biomarkers Laboratory and MaHPIC’s metabolomics core leader.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to integrate multiple types of rich biological data into dynamic models that will help scientists around the world devise novel strategies to help control not just malaria but other infectious diseases,” says Greg Gibson, PhD, professor and director of the Center of Integrative Genomics at Georgia Tech.

“MaHPIC will generate experimental, clinical and molecular data associated with malaria infections in nonhuman primates on an unprecedented scale,” says Jessica Kissinger, PhD, who will direct the project’s informatics team. Kissinger is professor of genetics at UGA and director of UGA’s Institute of Bioinformatics.

“In addition to mining the massive quantities of integrated data for trends and patterns that may help us understand host and pathogen interaction biology, we may identify potential targets for early and species-specific diagnosis of malaria, which is critical for proper treatment,” Kissinger says.

The MaHPIC team will develop an informative public website and specialized web portal to share the project’s data and newly developed data analysis tools with the scientific community worldwide.

“The sheer amount of detailed, high-quality information amassed by the experimental groups will be unprecedented. With this project we have an incredible opportunity to integrate data with modern computational tools of dynamic modeling,” says Eberhard Voit, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering and cofounder of the Integrative BioSystems Institute at Georgia Tech. “This integration will allow us to analyze the complex networks of interactions between hosts and parasites in a manner never tried before. Systems biology will be the foundation for this integration.”

Georgia Tech's involvement:

Greg Gibson, PhD, professor and director of the Center of Integrative Genomics, will be the director of the functional genomics core. Eberhard Voit, PhD., professor and David D. Flanagan Chair in biological systems, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, and cofounder of the Integrative BioSystems Institute, will be the director of the computational modeling core.  Mark Styczynski, an assistant professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, will serve as deputy director of the computational modeling core.

]]> Jason Maderer 1 1353342234 2012-11-19 16:23:54 1475896394 2016-10-08 03:13:14 0 0 news The research team will use the comprehensive research approach of systems biology to study and catalog in molecular detail how malaria parasites interact with their human and animal hosts.

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2012-11-19T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-19T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-19 00:00:00 Jason Maderer
Media Relations
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966

 

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<![CDATA[Kistenberg Provides Prostheses to People in Need]]> 27445 A one-time good deed that involved providing a man in Belize with prosthetic legs has evolved into an ongoing — and ever growing — nonprofit effort for Robert Kistenberg.

It all started while Kistenberg, co-director of the Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) program in the School of Applied Physiology, was teaching at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern in Dallas in the 1990s. 

“A friend of mine was doing medical mission work in Belize when she met a man without legs, who had managed to make do with getting around on a skateboard,” he said. “When she asked if I could help, I told her that I couldn’t send him a set of legs, that he’d have to come to the United States and that I couldn’t promise anything. Within three days, she’d raised the money, and Adrian was on his way.” 

Although the fittings were a success, Kistenberg was concerned about how he’d do follow-up visits with the man to ensure that the prostheses were successful, given the distance. 

“I started taking an annual trip to do follow-up with Adrian in 1996, and before I knew it, we had established a permanent clinic — which remains the only prosthetic clinic in Belize,” he said. “The name of the organization in Belize is called Project Hope Belize. The 501(c)(3) organization in the United States is Prosthetic Hope International, an organization that allows us to provide prostheses to people abroad and right here in Atlanta.” 

Recently, The Whistle had a chance to learn more about Kistenberg and his time at Georgia Tech.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I always liked to take things apart and try to put them back together again. In college, I realized that I wanted to do something related to health care. My sophomore year, I decided to talk to a physical therapist at my university about his field. During our discussion, he told me that I’d be a perfect fit for working with prosthetics and orthotics. As I learned more, I realized that this field offered me a position in the health care industry — that allowed me to “play” in a workshop, too.

How did you arrive at Georgia Tech?

I worked with Chris Hovorka at UT Southwestern in Dallas. When Chris started the MSPO program at Tech in 2002, he asked me to come and work with him. I started in 2003 and have been here ever since. 

How do you make learning engaging for your students?

Throughout their coursework, students are working with patient models to create prostheses. I also take students with me to Belize to work in the clinic. These opportunities to work firsthand with patients are the best way to help students learn the material in an engaging way.

What is one misconception people have about your field?

People think most of our patients are the amputees you see in the Olympics or soldiers who are returning from war, when in reality, they are older — and often diabetic — adults. Folks also tend to confuse the words “prosthetist” and “prostitute,” which can be problematic.  

What is the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without?

Remote desktop access, because it allows me to do work from anywhere in the world. 

Where is your favorite place to have lunch?

If I’m being good, it’s the salad bar in the Student Center. If I’m not being good, it’s Rocky Mountain Pizza.  

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken — did it pay off? 

In 2010, I had an opportunity to teach a short course in upper limb prosthetics in Tehran, Iran. I was very conflicted about going but went, and it was a phenomenal experience. 

Tell us something about yourself that others might not be aware of.

One of my professors would mold leftover plastic from prostheses into objects, which gave me the idea to start making mushrooms out of the leftovers. I hate waste, and this allows me to recycle what’s not being used. I’ve included the mushrooms and other plastic sculptures in a couple of art shows, but I primarily give them as gifts.

]]> Amelia Pavlik 1 1352734403 2012-11-12 15:33:23 1475896390 2016-10-08 03:13:10 0 0 news A one-time good deed that involved providing a man in Belize with prosthetic legs has evolved into an ongoing — and ever growing — nonprofit effort for Robert Kistenberg.

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2012-11-12T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-12T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-12 00:00:00 Amelia Pavlik
Institute Communications
404-385-4142

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Awarded $1.2 Million Diabetes Training Grant]]> 27224 The Georgia Institute of Technology has been awarded $1.2 million by the National Institutes of Health for a training program for post-doctoral fellows to develop bioengineering skills and leadership applicable to research into type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).  The Innovation and Leadership in Engineering Technologies and Therapies (ILET2) for diabetes postdoctoral training grant is a cross-disciplinary training program in cell- and tissue-based therapies and novel insulin delivery technologies.

Ten faculty members from Georgia Tech and Emory University will participate in the program, which is expected to train four postdoctoral fellows per year over a period of five years.  Athanassios Sambanis, a professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, will direct the effort, which will be administratively supported by the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.  

“The expertise of Georgia Tech researchers in biomaterials and cell therapies, combined with the clinical expertise of our Emory colleagues, should enable the development of new technologies and solutions to this complex health care problem,” Sambanis said.  “As engineers and researchers, it is our job to look at obstacles in new ways and find improved answers.”

IDDM is a health condition affecting millions of people worldwide.  The disease often has a much greater impact on a person’s life than the more common, type 2 adult onset form of diabetes because it can begin in childhood.  IDDM patients are dependent on a careful diet and insulin to regulate the amount of glucose in their blood. Fluctuations in blood glucose levels put patients at risk of sugar build up, which can affect eye sight, kidneys, and cardiovascular disease; inadvertent reduction in sugar levels could, on the other hand, result in a coma. 

Compared to current insulin treatments based on injections or infusion by a pump, new generation therapies have the potential to provide a less invasive and ultimately less costly regulation of blood glucose levels, potentially reducing long-term complications in diabetes care.  

“Upon successful completion of the program, the postdoctoral fellows will be prepared to move into leadership positions in industry and academia and develop new, cutting-edge technologies and therapies for diabetics aimed at improving their quality of life and reducing the economic burden on the diabetic population as well as the overall healthcare costs,” Sambanis concluded.  


“Research reported in this article was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under grant numbers 1R90DK098981-01 and 1T90DK097787-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1352371587 2012-11-08 10:46:27 1475896386 2016-10-08 03:13:06 0 0 news The Innovation and Leadership in Engineering Technologies and Therapies for diabetes postdoctoral training grant is a cross-disciplinary training program in cell- and tissue-based therapies and novel insulin delivery technologies.

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2012-11-08T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-08T00:00:00-05:00 2012-11-08 00:00:00 Megan Graziano McDevitt
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience,
Georgia Institute of Technology
404-385-7001

John Toon
Institute Communications
Georgia Institute of Technology
404-894-6986

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169481 169481 image <![CDATA[Athanassios Sambanis]]> image/png 1449178968 2015-12-03 21:42:48 1475894809 2016-10-08 02:46:49
<![CDATA[Blood Testing Predicts Level of Enzymes that Facilitate Disease Progression]]> 27303 Predicting how atherosclerosis, osteoporosis or cancer will progress or respond to drugs in individual patients is difficult. In a new study, researchers took another step toward that goal by developing a technique able to predict from a blood sample the amount of cathepsins—protein-degrading enzymes known to accelerate these diseases—a specific person would produce.

This patient-specific information may be helpful in developing personalized approaches to treat these tissue-destructive diseases.

“We measured significant variability in the amount of cathepsins produced by blood samples we collected from healthy individuals, which may indicate that a one-size-fits-all approach of administering cathepsin inhibitors may not be the best strategy for all patients with these conditions,” said Manu Platt, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

The study was published online on Oct. 19, 2012 in the journal Integrative Biology. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Georgia Cancer Coalition, Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center.

Platt and graduate student Keon-Young Park collected blood samples from 14 healthy individuals, removed white blood cells called monocytes from the samples and stimulated those cells with certain molecules so that they would become macrophages or osteoclasts in the laboratory. By doing this, the researchers recreated what happens in the body—monocytes receive these cues from damaged tissue, leave the blood, and become macrophages or osteoclasts, which are known to contribute to tissue changes that occur in atherosclerosis, cancer and osteoporosis.

Then the researchers developed a model that used patient-varying kinase signals collected from the macrophages or osteoclasts to predict patient-specific activity of four cathepsins: K, L, S and V.  

“Kinases are enzymes that integrate stimuli from different soluble, cellular and physical cues to generate specific cellular responses,” explained Platt, who is also a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar. “By using a systems biology approach to link cell differentiation cues and responses through integration of signals at the kinase level, we were able to mathematically predict relative amounts of cathepsin activity and distinguish which blood donors exhibited greater cathepsin activity compared to others.”

Predictability for all cathepsins ranged from 90 to 95 percent for both macrophages and osteoclasts, despite a range in the level of each cathepsin among the blood samples tested.

“We were pleased with the results because our model achieved very high predictability from a simple blood draw and overcame the challenge of incorporating the complex, unknown cues from individual patients’ unique genetic and biochemical backgrounds,” said Platt.

According to Platt, the next step will be to assess the model’s ability to predict cathepsin activity using blood samples from individuals with the diseases of interest: atherosclerosis, osteoporosis or cancer.

“Our ultimate goal is to create an assay that will inform a clinician whether an individual’s case of cancer or other tissue-destructive disease will be very aggressive from the moment that individual is diagnosed, which will enable the clinician to develop and begin the best personalized treatment plan immediately,” added Platt.

Weiwei A. Li, who received her bachelor’s degree from the Coulter Department in 2010, also contributed to this study.

Research reported in this publication was supported in part by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number UL1TR000454 and the Office of the Director of the NIH under award number 1DP2OD007433. The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

CITATION: Park, Keon-Young et al., “Patient specific proteolytic activity of monocyte-derived macrophages and osteoclasts predicted with temporal kinase activation states during differentiation,” Integrative Biology (2012): http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C2IB20197F.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia  USA  30332-0177

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).
Writer: Abby Robinson

]]> John Toon 1 1351779125 2012-11-01 14:12:05 1475896386 2016-10-08 03:13:06 0 0 news Researchers are developing a technique for predicting from a simple blood sample the amount of cathepsins—protein-degrading enzymes known to accelerate certain diseases—a specific person would produce. This patient-specific information may be helpful in developing personalized approaches to treat these tissue-destructive diseases.

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2012-11-01T00:00:00-04:00 2012-11-01T00:00:00-04:00 2012-11-01 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Low-Resistance Connections Facilitate Use of Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes for Interconnects]]> 27303 Using a new method for precisely controlling the deposition of carbon, researchers have demonstrated a technique for connecting multi-walled carbon nanotubes to the metallic pads of integrated circuits without the high interface resistance produced by traditional fabrication techniques.

Based on electron beam-induced deposition (EBID), the work is believed to be the first to connect multiple shells of a multi-walled carbon nanotube to metal terminals on a semiconducting substrate, which is relevant to integrated circuit fabrication. Using this three-dimensional fabrication technique, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology developed graphitic nanojoints on both ends of the multi-walled carbon nanotubes, which yielded a 10-fold decrease in resistivity in its connection to metal junctions.

The technique could facilitate the integration of carbon nanotubes as interconnects in next-generation integrated circuits that use both silicon and carbon components. The research was supported by the Semiconductor Research Corporation, and in its early stages, by the National Science Foundation. The work was reported online October 4, 2012, by the journal IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology.

“For the first time, we have established connections to multiple shells of carbon nanotubes with a technique that is amenable to integration with conventional integrated circuit microfabrication processes,” said Andrei Fedorov, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. “Connecting to multiple shells allows us to dramatically reduce the resistance and move to the next level of device performance.”

In developing the new technique, the researchers relied on modeling to guide their process parameters. To make it scalable for manufacturing, they also worked toward technologies for isolating and aligning individual carbon nanotubes between the metal terminals on a silicon substrate, and for examining the properties of the resulting structures. The researchers believe the technique could also be used to connect multi-layered graphene to metal contacts, though their published research has so far focused on carbon nanotubes.

The low-temperature EBID process takes place in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) system modified for material deposition. The SEM’s vacuum chamber is altered to introduce precursors of the materials that researchers would like to deposit. The electron gun normally used for imaging of nanostructures is instead used to generate low energy secondary electrons when the high energy primary electrons impinge on the substrate at carefully chosen locations. When the secondary electrons interact with hydrocarbon precursor molecules introduced into the SEM chamber, carbon is deposited in desired locations.

Unique to the EBID process, the deposited carbon makes a strong, chemically-bonded connection to the ends of the carbon nanotubes, unlike the weakly-coupled physical interface made in traditional techniques based on metal evaporation. Prior to deposition, the ends of the nanotubes are opened using an etching process, so the deposited carbon grows into the open end of the nanotube to electronically connect multiple shells. Thermal annealing of the carbon after deposition converts it to a crystalline graphitic form that significantly improves electrical conductivity.

“Atom-by-atom, we can build the connection where the electron beam strikes right near the open end of the carbon nanotubes,” Fedorov explained. “The highest rate of deposition occurs where the concentration of precursor is high and there are a lot of secondary electrons. This provides a nanoscale sculpturing tool with three-dimensional control for connecting the open ends of carbon nanotubes on any desired substrate.”

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes offer the promise of higher information delivery throughput for certain interconnects used in electronic devices. Researchers have envisioned a future generation of hybrid devices based on traditional integrated circuits but using interconnects based on carbon nanotubes.  

Until now, however, resistance at the connections between the carbon structures and conventional silicon electronics has been too high to make the devices practical.

“The big challenge in this field is to make a connection not just to a single shell of a carbon nanotube,” said Fedorov. “If only the outer wall of a carbon nanotube is connected, you really don’t gain much because most of the transmission channel is under-utilized or not utilized at all.”

The technique developed by Fedorov and his collaborators produces record low resistivity at the connection between the carbon nanotube and the metal pad. The researchers have measured resistance as low as approximately 100 Ohms – a factor of ten lower than the best that had been measured with other connection techniques.

“This technique gives us many new opportunities to go forward with integrating these carbon nanostructures into conventional devices,” he said. “Because it is carbon, this interface has an advantage because its properties are similar to those of the carbon nanotubes to which they are providing a connection.”

The researchers don’t know exactly how many of the carbon nanotube shells are connected, but based on resistance measurements, they believe at least 10 of the approximately 30 conducting shells are contributing to electrical conduction.

However, handling carbon nanotubes poses a significant challenge to their use as interconnects. When formed through the electric arc technique, for example, carbon nanotubes are produced as a tangle of structures with varying lengths and properties, some with mechanical defects. Techniques have been developed to separate out single nanotubes, and to open their ends.

Fedorov and his collaborators – current and former graduate students Songkil Kim, Dhaval Kulkarni, Konrad Rykaczewski and Mathias Henry, along with Georgia Tech professor Vladimir Tsukruk – developed a method for aligning the multi-walled nanotubes across electronic contacts using focused electrical fields in combination with a substrate template created through electron beam lithography. The process has a significantly improved yield of properly aligned carbon nanotubes, with a potential for scalability over a large chip area.

Once the nanotubes are placed into their positions, the carbon is deposited using the EBID process, followed by graphitization. The phase transformation in the carbon interface is monitored using Raman spectroscopy to ensure that the material is transformed into its optimal nanocrystalline graphite state.

“Only by making advances in each of these areas can we achieve this technological advance, which is an enabling technology for nanoelectronics based on carbon materials,” he said. “This is really a critical step for making many different kinds of devices using carbon nanotubes or graphene.”

Before the new technique can be used on a large scale, researchers will have to improve their technique for aligning carbon nanotubes and develop EBID systems able to deposit connectors on multiple devices simultaneously. Advances in parallel electron beam systems may provide a way to mass-produce the connections, Fedorov said.

“A major amount of work remains to be done in this area, but we believe this is possible if industry becomes interested,” he noted. “There are applications where integrating carbon nanotubes into circuits could be very attractive.”

CITATION: Songkil Kim, et.al, Fabrication of an Ultra-Low-Resistance Ohmic Contact to MWCNT-Metal Interconnect Using Graphitic Carbon by Electron Beam Induced Deposition (EBID), IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology (2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TNANO.2012.2220377

This research has been supported by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) under GRC grant 2008OJ1864.1281 and in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant DMI 0403671. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF or the SRC.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia 30308  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1351593067 2012-10-30 10:31:07 1475896386 2016-10-08 03:13:06 0 0 news Using a new method for precisely controlling the deposition of carbon, researchers have demonstrated a technique for connecting multi-walled carbon nanotubes to the metallic pads of integrated circuits without the high interface resistance produced by traditional fabrication techniques.

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2012-10-30T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-30T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-30 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Study Shows How a Hopping Robot Could Conserve its Energy]]> 27303 A new study shows that jumping can be much more complicated than it might seem. In research that could extend the range of future rescue and exploration robots, scientists have found that hopping robots could dramatically reduce their power demands by adopting a unique two-part “stutter jump.”

Taking a short hop before a big jump could allow spring-based “pogo-stick” robots to reduce their power demands as much as ten-fold. The formula for the two-part jump was discovered by analyzing nearly 20,000 jumps made by a simple laboratory robot under a wide range of conditions.

“If we time things right, the robot can jump with a tenth of the power required to jump to the same height under other conditions,” said Daniel Goldman, an assistant professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “In the stutter jumps, we can move the mass at a lower frequency to get off the ground. We achieve the same takeoff velocity as a conventional jump, but it is developed over a longer period of time with much less power.”

The research was reported October 26 in the journal Physical Review Letters. The work was supported by the Army Research Laboratory’s MAST program, the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the GEM Fellowship.

Jumping is an important means of locomotion for animals, and could be important to future generations of robots. Jumping has been extensively studied in biological organisms, which use stretched tendons to store energy.

The Georgia Tech research into robot jumping began with a goal of learning how hopping robots would interact with complicated surfaces – such as sand, granular materials or debris from a disaster. Goldman quickly realized he’d need to know more about the physics of jumping to separate the surface issues from the factors controlled by the dynamics of jumping.

Inspired by student-directed experiments on the dynamics of hopping in his nonlinear dynamics and chaos class, Goldman asked Jeffrey Aguilar, a graduate student in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, to construct the simplest jumping robot.

Aguilar built a one-kilogram robot that is composed of a spring beneath a mass capable of moving up and down on a thrust rod. Aguilar used computer controls to vary the starting position of the mass on the rod, the amplitude of the motion, the pattern of movement and the frequency of movement applied by an actuator built into the robot’s mass. A high-speed camera and a contact sensor measured and recorded the height of each jump.

Aguilar and Goldman then collaborated with theorists Professor Kurt Wiesenfeld and Alex Lesov, from the Georgia Tech School of Physics, to explain the results of the experiments.

The researchers expected to find that the optimal jumping frequency would be related to the resonant frequency of the spring and mass system, but that turned out not to be true. Detailed evaluation of the jumps showed that frequencies above and below the resonance provided optimal jumping – and additional analysis revealed what the researchers called the “stutter jump.”

“The preparatory hop allows the robot to time things such that it can use a lower power to get to the same jump height,” Goldman explained. “You really don’t have to move the mass rapidly to get a good jump.”

The amount of energy that can be stored in batteries can limit the range and duration of robotic missions, so the stutter jump could be helpful for small robots that have limited power. Optimizing the efficiency of jumping could therefore allow the robots to complete longer and more complex missions.

But because it requires longer to perform than a simple jump, the two-step jump may not be suitable for all conditions.

“If you’re a small robot and you want to jump over an obstacle, you could use low power by using the stutter jump even though that would take longer,” said Goldman. “But if a hazard is threatening, you may need to generate the additional power to make a quick jump to get out of the way.”

For the future, Goldman and his research team plan to study how complicated surfaces affect jumping. They are currently studying the effects of sand, and will turn to other substrates to develop a better understanding of how exploration or rescue robots can hop through them.

Goldman’s past work has focused on the lessons learned from the locomotion of biological systems, so the team is also interested in what the robot can teach them about how animals jump. “What we have learned here can function as a hypothesis for biological systems, but it may not explain everything,” he said.

The simple jumping robot turned out to be a useful system to study, not only because of the interesting behaviors that turned up, but also because the results were counter to what the researchers had expected.

“In physics, we often study the steady-state solution,” Goldman noted. “If we wait enough time for the transient phenomena to die off, then we can study what’s left. It turns out that in this system, we really care about the transients.”

This research is supported by the Army Research Laboratory under cooperative agreement number W911NF-08-2-004, by the Army Research Office under cooperative agreement W911NF-11-1-0514, and by the National Science Foundation under contract PoLS PHY-1150760. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Army Research Laboratory, the Army Research Office or the National Science Foundation.

CITATION: Aguilar, Jeffrey et al., “Lift-off dynamics in a simple jumping robot,” Physical Review Letters (2012): http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v109/i17/e174301

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu)
Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1351265114 2012-10-26 15:25:14 1475896382 2016-10-08 03:13:02 0 0 news A new study shows that jumping can be much more complicated than it might seem. In research that could extend the range of future rescue and exploration robots, scientists have found that hopping robots could dramatically reduce their power demands by adopting a unique two-part “stutter jump.”

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2012-10-26T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-26T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-26 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News  & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[GT Chemists Ranked as Best in World]]> 27267 Georgia Tech has some of the best chemists in the world according to rankings published by Thomson Reuters Science Watch. For the past decade, 2000-2010, four professors in Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry have been recognized as part of the Top 100 on their lists of Chemists and Materials Scientists.

Younan Xia, professor of chemistry with a joint appointment in the Georgia Tech/Emory Department of Biomedical Engineering, is ranked No. 4 on the Top 100 Materials Scientists list and No. 35 on the Top 100 Chemists list.

Mostafa El-Sayed, professor and director of the Laser Dynamics Laboratory, is ranked as No. 17 on the list of Top 100 Chemists.

Professor John Reynolds is No. 69 on the list of Top 100 Materials Scientists. He holds a joint appointment with the School of Materials Science and Engineering.

Jean-Luc Bredas, professor and co-director of the Center for Computational Molecular Science and Technology, is listed as No. 84 on Top 100 Materials Scientists.

Xia, who came to Tech this spring from Washington University in St. Louis, studies the chemistry of nanomaterials, from making them to using nanomaterials in biomedical research as well as in environmentally friendly technologies such as solar cells and fuel cells. He is currently a Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Eminent Scholar in Nanomedicine and the Brock Family Chair.

El-Sayed has been at Tech since 1994 and studies the conversion of electronic energy in a wide variety of structures such as semiconductors (quantum dots) and metallic nanostructures. Among his most promising areas of research are using lasers and gold nanorods to detect and fight cancerous tumors under the skin.

In 2007, El-Sayed received the U.S. National Medal of Science by then-President George W. Bush. His citation reads: “for his seminal and creative contributions to our understanding of the electronic and optical properties of nano-materials and to their applications in nano-catalysis and nano-medicine, for his humanitarian efforts of exchange among countries and for his role in developing the scientific leadership of tomorrow.” The next year, he was listed among the 100 most influential people in the state of Georgia.

El-Sayed is currently a Regents’ Professor and the Julius Brown Chair.

Reynolds arrived at Tech this spring from the University of Florida. He is widely considered to be an international leader in the field of polymer synthesis and electro-active polymers.

Bredas has been a Yellow Jacket since 2003. His work seeks to uncover the chemical and physical properties of novel organic materials and includes research on organic solar cells as well as organic light-emitting diodes for potential use in visual displays and lighting.

Bredas is a Regents’ professor and a member of the Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics. He is also a GRA Eminent Scholar and holds the GRA-Vasser Woolley Chair in Molecular Design. In addition, he holds an extraordinary professorship at the University of Mons in Belgium and an honorary professorship at the Institute of Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

]]> Thomas Becher 1 1351077517 2012-10-24 11:18:37 1475896382 2016-10-08 03:13:02 0 0 news 2012-10-24T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-24T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-24 00:00:00 David Terraso
Director of Communications, College of Sciences
david.terraso@cos.gatech.edu
404-385-1393

]]>
164831 164851 164871 164881 164831 image <![CDATA[Younan Xia is ranked No. 4 on the Top 100 Materials Scientists list and No. 35 on the Top 100 Chemists list.]]> image/jpeg 1449178920 2015-12-03 21:42:00 1475894801 2016-10-08 02:46:41 164851 image <![CDATA[Mostafa El-Sayed is ranked as No. 17 on the list of Top 100 Chemists.]]> image/jpeg 1449178920 2015-12-03 21:42:00 1475894801 2016-10-08 02:46:41 164871 image <![CDATA[John Reynolds is No. 69 on the list of Top 100 Materials Scientists.]]> image/jpeg 1449178920 2015-12-03 21:42:00 1475894801 2016-10-08 02:46:41 164881 image <![CDATA[Jean-Luc Bredas is listed as No. 84 on Top 100 Materials Scientists.]]> image/jpeg 1449178920 2015-12-03 21:42:00 1475894801 2016-10-08 02:46:41
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech and Emory University Host Annual Biomedical Engineering Meeting]]> 27462 Nearly 4,000 biomedical engineers, faculty and students from around the world will gather in Atlanta Oct. 24-27 for the Biomedical Engineering Society’s annual conference, hosted by the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. 

It is slated to be the largest Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) meeting in history with a record number of abstracts submitted, 919 oral presentations and 1550 poster presentations, representing the broadest range of research tracks to date. More than 200 research presentations at the conference, including 122 oral and 85 posted presentations, will come from the growing partnership between the Emory University School of Medicine and Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering.

The two schools formed the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering in 1997 and today the department’s undergraduate and graduate programs in biomedical engineering are ranked second in the nation, according to the most recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

Conference Highlights include:

Hanjoong Jo, Ada Lee and Pete Correll Professor in Biomedical Engineering in the Coulter Department, serves as this year’s conference chair. Coulter Department Associate Professor Julia Babensee is the program chair. 

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1350906095 2012-10-22 11:41:35 1475896382 2016-10-08 03:13:02 0 0 news Nearly 4,000 biomedical engineers from around the world will gather in Atlanta Oct. 24-27 for the annual conference, hosted by the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. 

]]>
2012-10-22T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-22T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-22 00:00:00 Adrianne Proeller, Coutler Department, 404-894-2357

]]>
72624 84971 72624 image <![CDATA[Gilda Barabino]]> image/jpeg 1449177942 2015-12-03 21:25:42 1475894661 2016-10-08 02:44:21 84971 image <![CDATA[Larry McIntire]]> 1449178102 2015-12-03 21:28:22 1475894706 2016-10-08 02:45:06 <![CDATA[Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering]]> <![CDATA[Biomedical Engineering Society]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech, MIT and Allen Institute for Brain Science Receive $4.3 Million NIH Grant]]> 27304 An interdisciplinary team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Allen Institute for Brain Science was awarded a $4.3 million National Institutes of Health grant. Led by Edward Boyden (associate professor, Media Lab and McGovern Institute, MIT), Hongkui Zeng (senior director, research science, Allen Institute for Brain Science), and Craig Forest (assistant professor, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech), the team will undertake a five-year effort (2012-2017) to develop new precision robotics, as well as relevant methods of use, that will enable biologists and clinicians to automatically assess the gene expression profile, shape and electrical properties of individual cells embedded in intact tissues such as the brain. 

By enabling the automated characterization of cells in complex organ systems, the technology will empower scientists across biology to map the cell types present in organ systems (e.g., brain circuits) in disease states, enabling new mechanistic understandings of disease and enabling new molecular drug targets to be identified.  These robotic tools will also enable new kinds of biopsy analysis and diagnostic, helping empower personalized medicine in arenas ranging from epilepsy to cancer, to utilize information about cellular diversity in disease states to improve patient care.

 The grant was awarded through the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number R01EY023173.

]]> Matthew Nagel 1 1349790209 2012-10-09 13:43:29 1475896374 2016-10-08 03:12:54 0 0 news An interdisciplinary team from the Georgia Tech, MIT and the Allen Institute for Brain Science was awarded a $4.3 million National Institutes of Health grant. 

]]>
2012-10-09T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-09T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-09 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
laura.diamond@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-660-2926

]]>
128501 68626 128501 image <![CDATA[Craig Forest robotic neural recordings]]> image/jpeg 1449178622 2015-12-03 21:37:02 1475894751 2016-10-08 02:45:51 68626 image <![CDATA[Craig Forest, PhD - Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering]]> image/jpeg 1449177185 2015-12-03 21:13:05 1475894597 2016-10-08 02:43:17 <![CDATA[National Institutes of Health]]> <![CDATA[Craig Forest]]>
<![CDATA[Squeezing Ovarian Cancer Cells to Predict Metastatic Potential]]> 27560 New Georgia Tech research shows that cell stiffness could be a valuable clue for doctors as they search for and treat cancerous cells before they’re able to spread. The findings, which are published in the journal PLoS One, found that highly metastatic ovarian cancer cells are several times softer than less metastatic ovarian cancer cells.

Assistant Professor Todd Sulchek and Ph.D. student Wenwei Xu used a process called atomic force microscopy (AFM) to study the mechanical properties of various ovarian cell lines. A soft mechanical probe “tapped” healthy, malignant and metastatic ovarian cells to measure their stiffness.

“In order to spread, metastatic cells must push themselves into the bloodstream. As a result, they must be highly deformable and softer,” said Sulchek, a faculty member in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “Our results indicate that cell stiffness may be a useful biomarker to evaluate the relative metastatic potential of ovarian and perhaps other types of cancer cells.”

Just as previous studies on other types of epithelial cancers have indicated, Sulchek also found that cancerous ovarian cells are generally softer and display lower intrinsic variability in cell stiffnesss than non-malignant cells.

Sulchek’s lab partnered with the molecular cancer lab of Biology Professor John McDonald, who is also director of Georgia Tech’s newly established Integrated Cancer Research Center.

“This is a good example of the kinds of discoveries that only come about by integrating skills and knowledge from traditionally diverse fields such as molecular biology and bioengineering,” said McDonald. “Although there are a number of developing methodologies to identify circulating cancer cells in the blood and other body fluids, this technology offers the added potential to rapidly determine if these cells are highly metastatic or relatively benign.”

Sulchek and McDonald believe that, when further developed, this technology could offer a huge advantage to clinicians in the design of optimal chemotherapies, not only for ovarian cancer patients but also for patients of other types of cancer.

This project was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award Number CBET-0932510). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.

]]> Jason Maderer 1 1349348106 2012-10-04 10:55:06 1475896374 2016-10-08 03:12:54 0 0 news New Georgia Tech research shows that cell stiffness could be a valuable clue for doctors as they search for and treat cancerous cells before they’re able to spread. The findings, which are published in the journal PLoS One, found that highly metastatic ovarian cancer cells are several times softer than less metastatic ovarian cancer cells.

]]>
2012-10-05T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-05T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-05 00:00:00 Jason Maderer
Media Relations
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966

]]>
159221 159211 159231 159251 159221 image <![CDATA[Squeezing Cancer Cells 1]]> image/jpeg 1449178896 2015-12-03 21:41:36 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34 159211 image <![CDATA[Squeezing Cancer Cells 2]]> image/jpeg 1449178896 2015-12-03 21:41:36 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34 159231 image <![CDATA[Todd Sulchek and John McDonald]]> image/jpeg 1449178896 2015-12-03 21:41:36 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34 159251 image <![CDATA[Todd Sulchek]]> image/jpeg 1449178896 2015-12-03 21:41:36 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34
<![CDATA[Petit Institute Seeking Mentors for Incoming Class of 2013 Petit Scholars]]> 27195 The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience is accepting project submissions from graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in mentoring a member of the incoming class of 2013 Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars.  

The Petit Scholars program is a competitive scholarship program that offers highly innovative research opportunities to top undergraduate students for a full year.  The Petit Scholars mentoring program offers the mentor a unique, full-year mentoring and project management experience while simultaneously furthering their own research interests.  Mentors also receive travel funds and funds for materials and supplies.

Interested candidates must be currently conducting their own research in an IBB laboratory and must be available from January through December of 2013.  Faculty approval will be required.

Online project submissions will be accepted through Friday, October 19, 2012 and should outline an independent research project for a potential undergraduate scholar.   For full details about the Petit Mentor program, visit the website below.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1349708218 2012-10-08 14:56:58 1475896374 2016-10-08 03:12:54 0 0 news Petit Institute Seeking Mentors for Incoming Class of 2013 Petit Scholars

]]>
2012-10-05T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-05T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-05 00:00:00 Colly Mitchell, Program Administrator
Todd McDevitt, PhD, Program Faculty Advisor

 

]]>
146471 146471 image <![CDATA[Kevin Parsons and Matthew Nipper, Petit Scholar and Mentor]]> image/jpeg 1449178751 2015-12-03 21:39:11 1475894779 2016-10-08 02:46:19 <![CDATA[IBB Petit Mentor website]]>
<![CDATA[Researcher Andrés García Recognized as Top Biomaterials Scientist]]> 27224 Andrés J. García, a faculty member at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Clemson Award for Basic Research from the Society for Biomaterials.  This national award is given to an outstanding community member who has demonstrated significant contributions to and understanding of the interaction of materials with tissues within a biological environment.

"I am truly honored by this award and recognition,” said García, who is a Woodruff Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. “The Society for Biomaterials has had a huge impact in my scientific and professional career and I am delighted to join past awardees from our community. I am also proud to represent my great colleagues along with past and present trainees from Georgia Tech who have contributed to this recognition."

The Society for Biomaterials is the oldest scientific organization in the field of biomaterials and has a mission of encouraging, fostering, promoting and advancing education, and research and development, in biomaterials science.  The society has grown to more than 2,000 members since its inception in 1974.

"García is an outstanding recipient of this award," said Buddy Ratner, Ph.D., professor of bioengineering and chemical engineering at the University of Washington, who recommended García for the Clemson award. "His strong commitment to polymeric biomaterials and to the modern biology of healing and regeneration, coupled with a fine intelligence, a charismatic personality and super-charged energy, has propelled his career and technical impact to the top of the discipline."

In addition to this award, the society announced that a pioneering publication by García was one of twenty-five articles selected as part of a special virtual edition of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research celebrating the 100th volume of the journal. The criteria for inclusion of a paper in the special issue was the identification of articles that, in their time, were considered novel, original, state-of-the-art, ground-breaking, and opened new areas of biomaterials research.

García’s work established the paradigm that cell response to material properties could be mediated by protein adsorption. This research established an experimental framework to analyze adhesive mechanisms controlling cell-surface interactions and provided a general strategy for surface-directed control of adsorbed protein activity to manipulate cell function in biomaterial and biotechnology applications.  This finding established a new strategy to direct cellular responses to biomaterials and has broad application to the engineering of materials to elicit specific biological responses.

The article, “Surface Chemistry Modulates Fibronectin Conformation and Directs Integrin Binding and Specificity to Control Cell Adhesion,” was co-authored by collaborator David M. Collard, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, and by Benjamin G. Keselowsky, who was then a graduate student in the García laboratory.  Keselowsky is now an associate professor at the University of Florida.

García’s research program focuses on engineering biomaterials that promote tissue repair and healing; quantitative analyses of mechanisms regulating cell adhesive forces; and cell-based therapies for regenerative medicine.  These integrated cellular engineering strategies have provided new insights into mechanisms regulating cell-material interactions and established new approaches for the rational design of biomaterials and cell-delivery vehicles for regenerative medicine applications, including bone repair, vascularization and inflammation.

His laboratory’s research has led to advances across many areas of regenerative medicine including applications related to the bone and cartilage, angiogenesis, neurogenesis, inflammation, and implant integration with tissues.

García has co-authored papers in leading biomaterials, tissue engineering, and cell biology journals as well as several patents and invention disclosures.  He has received several distinctions throughout his successful career, including the NSF CAREER Award, Arthritis Investigator Award, Georgia Tech’s CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biomaterials, Petit Institute Above and Beyond Award and Georgia Tech’s Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award.

Currently García serves as chair of the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program at Georgia Tech. He is also the director of a NIH/NIGMS biotechnology training grant on cell and tissue engineering.  He serves on the editorial boards of leading biomaterial and regenerative medicine journals as well as NIH and NSF review panels.  García has been recognized as a top Latino educator by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and has been elected a Fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering by the International Union of Societies of Biomaterials Science and Engineering.

García joined Georgia Tech as assistant professor in 1998.  He received a B.S. in mechanical engineering with honors from Cornell University in 1991. He received M.S.E. in 1992 and Ph.D. in 1996 in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. 

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1349282107 2012-10-03 16:35:07 1475896374 2016-10-08 03:12:54 0 0 news Andrés J. García, a faculty member at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Clemson Award for Basic Research from the Society for Biomaterials.  This national award is given to an outstanding community member who has demonstrated significant contributions to and understanding of the interaction of materials with tissues within a biological environment.

]]>
2012-10-03T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-03T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-03 00:00:00 Megan Graziano McDevitt

Marketing Communications Director

Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

Georgia Institute of Technology

]]>
48186 71140 48186 image <![CDATA[Andres Garcia and vascularization hydrogels]]> image/jpeg 1449175379 2015-12-03 20:42:59 1475894455 2016-10-08 02:40:55 71140 image <![CDATA[Andres Garcia + David Collard]]> 1449177348 2015-12-03 21:15:48 1475894630 2016-10-08 02:43:50
<![CDATA[Study Suggests Immune System Can Boost Regeneration of Peripheral Nerves]]> 27303 Modulating immune response to injury could accelerate the regeneration of severed peripheral nerves, a new study in an animal model has found. By altering activity of the macrophage cells that respond to injuries, researchers dramatically increased the rate at which nerve processes regrew.

Influencing the macrophages immediately after injury may affect the whole cascade of biochemical events that occurs after nerve damage, potentially eliminating the need to directly stimulate the growth of axons using nerve growth factors. If the results of this first-ever study can be applied to humans, they could one day lead to a new strategy for treating peripheral nerve injuries that typically result from trauma, surgical resection of tumors or radical prostectomy.

“Both scar formation and healing are the end results of two different cascades of biological processes that result from injuries,” said Ravi Bellamkonda, Carol Ann and David D. Flanagan professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and member of the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “In this study, we show that by manipulating the immune system soon after injury, we can bias the system toward healing, and stimulate the natural repair mechanisms of the body.”

Beyond nerves, researchers believe their technique could also be applied to help regenerate other tissue – such as bone. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and reported online Sept. 26, 2012, by the journal Biomaterials.

After injury, macrophages that congregate at the site of the injury operate like the conductor of an orchestra, controlling processes that remove damaged tissue, set the stage for repair and encourage the replacement of cells and matrix materials, said Nassir Mokarram, a Ph.D. student in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering. Converting the macrophages to a “pro-healing” phenotype that secretes healing compounds signals a broad range of other processes – the “players” in the symphony analogy.

“If you really want to change the symphony’s activity from generating scarring to regeneration of tissue, you need to target the conductor, not just a few of the players, and we think macrophages are capable of being conductors of the healing symphony,” said Mokarram.

Macrophages are best known for their role in creating inflammation at the site of injuries. The macrophages and other immune system components battle infection, remove dead tissue – and often create scarring that prevents nerve regeneration. However, these macrophages can exist in several different phenotypes depending on the signals they receive. Among the macrophage phenotypes are two classes – M2a and M2c – that encourage healing.

Bellamkonda’s research team used an interleukin 4 (IL-4) cytokine to convert macrophages within the animal model to the “pro-healing” phenotypes. They placed a gel that released IL-4 into hollow polymeric nerve guides that connected the ends of severed animal sciatic nerves that had to grow across a 15 millimeter gap to regenerate. The IL-4 remained in the nerve guides for 24 hours or less, and had no direct influence on the growth of nerve tissue in this short period of time.

Three weeks after the injury, the nerve guides that released IL-4 were almost completely filled with re-grown axons. The treated nerve guides had approximately 20 times more nerve regeneration than the control channels, which had no IL-4-treated macrophages.

Research is now underway to develop the technique for determining how soon after injury the macrophages should be treated, and what concentration of IL-4 would be most effective.

“We believe immune cells are the ‘master knobs’ that modulate the biochemical cascade downstream,” Mokarram said. “They are among the ‘first-responders’ to injury, and are involved for almost the whole regeneration process, secreting several factors that affect other cells. With IL-4, we are doing something very early in the process that is triggering a cascade of events whose effects last longer.”

Tissue engineering approaches have focused on encouraging the growth of nerve cells, using special scaffolds and continuous application of nerve growth factors over a period of weeks. Instead, the Bellamkonda group believes that influencing the immune system soon after injury could provide a simpler and more effective treatment able to restore nerve function.

“Beyond neural tissue engineering, the implications of this approach can be significant for other types of tissue engineering,” said Mokarram. “Neural tissue may be just a model.”

As part of their paper, the researchers defined a state they termed “regenerative bias” that predicts the probability of a regenerative outcome. The Bellamkonda group discovered that when it quantified the ratio of healing macrophages to scar-promoting macrophages at the site of injury early after the injury, the ratio – or regenerative bias – predicted whether or not the nerve regenerated after many weeks.

“The significance of this finding is that IL-4 and other factors may be used to make sure the regenerative bias is high so that nerves, and perhaps other tissues, can regenerate on their own after injury,” Bellamkonda said.

The research team also included Alishah Merchant, Vivek Mukhatyar and Gaurangkumar Patel, all from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health under grants NS44409, NS65109 and 1R41NS06777. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National lnstitutes of Health.

CITATION: Mokarram N, et al., Effect of modulating macrophage phenotype on peripheral nerve repair, Biomaterials (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.08.050


Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1349168587 2012-10-02 09:03:07 1475896374 2016-10-08 03:12:54 0 0 news Modulating immune response to injury could accelerate the regeneration of severed peripheral nerves, a new study in an animal model has found. By altering activity of the macrophage cells that respond to injuries, researchers dramatically increased the rate at which nerve processes regrew.

]]>
2012-10-02T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-02T00:00:00-04:00 2012-10-02 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

]]>
158441 158461 158431 158471 158441 image <![CDATA[Polymer Nerve Guide]]> image/jpeg 1449178883 2015-12-03 21:41:23 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34 158461 image <![CDATA[Polymer Nerve Guide2]]> image/jpeg 1449178883 2015-12-03 21:41:23 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34 158431 image <![CDATA[Growth of Axons]]> image/jpeg 1449178883 2015-12-03 21:41:23 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34 158471 image <![CDATA[Regrowth of nerve tissue]]> image/jpeg 1449178883 2015-12-03 21:41:23 1475894794 2016-10-08 02:46:34
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Joins the NSF Physics of Living Systems Student Research Network]]> 27303 The Georgia Institute of Technology has become the newest node in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Physics of Living Systems Student Research Network.

Now, Georgia Tech faculty members and graduate students who have a research interest in the physics of living systems will have the opportunity to interact with national and international peers and collectively help define the field’s research agenda. In the physics of living systems field, researchers explore the most fundamental physical processes that living systems use to perform their functions in dynamic and diverse environments.

Georgia Tech will receive $1.2 million from the NSF over the next five years to support its network activities.

“We are very excited that graduate students at Georgia Tech will be able to easily interact with other scientists in the field, share training strategies and locate potential research collaborations that could influence the physics of living systems field in the future,” said Daniel Goldman, a principal investigator on the project and an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Physics.

Additional principal investigators contributing to the network include Georgia Tech School of Physics Assistant Professors Jennifer Curtis and Harold Kim; School of Biology Associate Professor Joshua Weitz, who also holds an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics; and Assistant Professor David Hu, who holds a joint appointment in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Biology. School of Physics Professor Kurt Wiesenfeld will serve as a senior adviser for the network.

Georgia Tech will join 11 U.S. institutions and organizations from Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Singapore and the United Kingdom in the network, which is also an NSF Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) pilot project. SAVI is an innovative concept designed to foster interaction among scientists, engineers and educators around the globe to solve important societal challenges.

Through this program, Georgia Tech faculty members and graduate students will have the opportunity to visit peers at other research institutions in the network, which will expand their perspectives on how to approach difficult research topics and create collaborative ties between groups at the various sites. To further engage with other researchers in the network, Georgia Tech will host an annual meeting with network members from the other institutions and participate in monthly webinars. In addition, graduate students participating in the network will gain access to career opportunities that they might not have had otherwise.

All of the institutions in the Physics of Living Systems Student Research Network stress the use of both theoretical and experimental physics to further the understanding of biology and biomedicine.

“Georgia Tech brings to the network a strength in nonlinear science, with research programs dedicated to combining physical and biological realism at multiple scales within the same study and understanding the interaction between biological systems and their environments,” noted Goldman.

At Georgia Tech, researchers in this field seek to understand how physics can inform questions of structure, function and dynamics in biological systems. They are also studying fundamental physics questions posed by biological systems. At the heart of the effort is a philosophy that many biological systems cannot be understood without study of their interaction with the environment.

Goldman and Hu both work to reveal principles of organism locomotion on complex substrates such as granular media and vertical surfaces. Curtis studies the mechanics of cell-substrate adhesive interaction and Kim measures gene regulation in the context of the physical structure of the chromosome. Weitz studies the evolutionary ecology of microbial and viral communities, and Wiesenfeld uses nonlinear dynamic modeling to investigate the role of stochastic environments in biological systems.

“Recognition by the NSF of our growing program in biophysics is especially welcome,” said Paul Houston, dean of the Georgia Tech College of Sciences. “Being a node in the Physics of Living Systems Student Research Network will allow Georgia Tech to connect our graduate student and faculty research to that of an international group of scientists studying how physics can enhance our understanding of biology.”

Georgia Tech plans to use this program as the foundation to create a hub in the southeastern United States for physics of living systems research, said Goldman.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia  30308

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: Abby Robinson

]]> John Toon 1 1348233660 2012-09-21 13:21:00 1475896370 2016-10-08 03:12:50 0 0 news The Georgia Institute of Technology has become the newest node in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Physics of Living Systems Student Research Network.

]]>
2012-09-21T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-21T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-21 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

]]>
156071 156071 image <![CDATA[Physics of Living Systems]]> image/jpeg 1449178872 2015-12-03 21:41:12 1475894789 2016-10-08 02:46:29
<![CDATA[iPhone Attachment Designed for At-Home Diagnoses of Ear Infections]]> 27462 A new pediatric medical device being tested by Georgia Tech and Emory University could make life easier for every parent who has rushed to the doctor with a child screaming from an ear infection.

Soon, parents may be able to skip the doctor’s visit and receive a diagnosis without leaving home by using Remotoscope, a clip-on attachment and software app that turns an iPhone into an otoscope.

Pediatricians currently diagnose ear infections using the standard otoscope to examine the eardrum. With Remotoscope, parents would be able to take a picture or video of their child’s eardrum using the iPhone and send the images digitally to a physician for diagnostic review.

Wilbur Lam, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, along with his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, developed the device with plans to commercialize it. A clinical trial for the Remotoscope is currently under way at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to see if the device can obtain images of the same diagnostic quality as what a physician sees with a traditional otoscope. 

“Ultimately we think parents could receive a diagnosis at home and forgo the late-night trips to the emergency room,” said Dr. Lam, who is also a physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory School of Medicine. “It’s known that kids who get ear infections early in life are at risk for recurrent ear infections. It can be a very big deal and really affect their families’ quality of life.”

Remotoscope's clip-on attachment uses the iPhone's camera and flash as the light source. It also relies on a custom software app -- enhanced by Brian Parise, a research scientist with Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Landmarc Research Center -- that provides automatic zoom and crop, image preview and auto calibration.  The iPhone’s data transmission capabilities seamlessly send images and video to a doctor's inbox or to the patient's electronic medical record. 

The device has the potential to save money for both families and healthcare systems, Dr. Lam said. Ear infections, or otitis media, affect 75 percent of children by age 6, making it the most common diagnosis for preschoolers. They result in more than 15 million office visits per year in the United States and thousands of prescriptions for antibiotics, which are sometimes not needed.

At the initial visit with a patient, physicians say it is difficult to differentiate between ear infections caused by viruses, which resolve on their own, and those caused by bacteria, which would require antibiotics.

“As pediatricians will likely only see the child once, they often err on the side of giving antibiotics for viral infections rather than risk not giving antibiotics for a bacterial infection, which can lead to complications,” Dr. Lam said. “So, we are currently over-treating ear infections with antibiotics and consequently causing antibiotic resistance.”

Lam said Remotoscope may be able to change physicians’ prescription patterns of antibiotics for ear infections. Receiving serial images of a child’s ear over several days via the Remotoscope could allow physicians to wait and see if a child’s infection improves or whether antibiotics are warranted.

The Food and Drug Administration, through the Atlanta Pediatric Device Consortium, is partially funding the clinical trial. Andrea Shane, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics in Emory School of Medicine and a physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, is principal investigator of the study. 

Fourth-year Emory medical student Kathryn Rappaport, who is part of the research team, is helping recruit families who come into the emergency department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals for treatment of ear infection-type symptoms. Once a family agrees to be in the trial and the child has seen the emergency room doctor, Rappaport takes video of the child’s ear with Remotoscope and a traditional otoscope linked to a computer. Next, a panel of physicians will review the quality of the samples, make a diagnosis from the Remotoscope video and see if it matches the original diagnosis by the ER doctor.

As part of the clinical trial, Rappaport is also conducting a survey asking parents their opinions on using the device. 

“A lot of parents said they would want to use it, which surprised me because I think it could be scary to look in someone’s ear and because I think parents would be afraid they could hurt their child,” Rappaport said. “Parents are enthusiastic and ask me where they can get it, but we’re not there yet.”

The research team hopes to publish the trial’s results by the end of the year and then study whether the Remotoscope enables physicians to implement the “watchful waiting” plan rather than prescribing antibiotics right away.

Remotoscope has had a long journey with many players to get to where it is today. Dr. Lam and a colleague, Erik Douglas, started the project while doctoral students at UC, Berkeley. The two researchers went on to create the startup CellScope Inc., which aims to commercialize Remotoscope once clinical studies are complete and the device has FDA approval.

In 2011, when Dr. Lam joined the faculty at Georgia Tech and Emory, he brought the project with him to Atlanta. Today resources from both institutions, as well as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute, are being used to take the medical device to the next level. 

The Remotoscope is one of nine medical device projects supported by the Atlanta Pediatric Device Consortium, which is a partnership among Georgia Tech, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University. The consortium, one of four in the U.S., provides assistance with engineering design, prototype development, pre-clinical and clinical studies and commercialization for pediatric medical devices. 

“The whole goal is to create, develop and commercialize pediatric medical devices specifically for kids,” Dr. Lam said. “Kids are not just small adults. Physiologically they are different. So to only have medical devices scaled down from adult ones creates this void where there are many diseases that affect only the pediatric population but there are not any available devices to treat them.”

Dr. Wilbur Lam owns equity interest in CellScope Inc., and serves in a fiduciary role for the company. Dr. Lam is a co-inventor of the Remotoscope, which is licensed to CellScope for the purposes of development and commercialization, and he is entitled to royalties derived from CellScope’s sale of products related to the research described in this press release. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Georgia Tech and Emory University in accordance with their conflict of interest policies.

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1347973978 2012-09-18 13:12:58 1475896370 2016-10-08 03:12:50 0 0 news Soon, parents may be able to skip the doctor’s visit and receive a diagnosis without leaving home by using Remotoscope, a clip-on attachment and software app that turns an iPhone into an otoscope. 

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2012-09-18T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-18T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-18 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
laura.diamond@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-660-2926

]]>
155191 155191 image <![CDATA[Remotoscope]]> image/jpeg 1449178859 2015-12-03 21:40:59 1475894789 2016-10-08 02:46:29 <![CDATA[Remotoscope]]> <![CDATA[Wilbur Lam]]> <![CDATA[Emory University]]> <![CDATA[Children\'s Healthcare of Atlanta]]> <![CDATA[VIDEO - Remotoscope demo]]>
<![CDATA[Coulter Department, Potter Recognized by Regents]]> 27445 The Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) and Steve Potter, associate professor in the Coulter Department, are recipients of the 2013 Regents’ Teaching Excellence Awards. This marks the first time that both awards have gone to the same department.  

“The Coulter Department is an excellent example of an academic unit designing its curriculum and instructional approach to truly focus on student learning and achievement,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “It’s no surprise that the department and one of its own, Steve Potter, would be selected to receive these awards.”

The University System of Georgia (USG) Teaching Excellence Awards recognize both individual faculty and staff, and departments and programs for a strong commitment to teaching and student success.  

The Coulter Department was recognized for its design and implementation of a problem-focused curriculum.

“Problem-driven learning aims to develop empowered, self-directed inquirers who fearlessly seek and tackle local and global problems,” said Wendy Newstetter, who helped develop the award-winning BME curriculum and is now director of educational research and innovation for the College of Engineering.

A team of BME faculty, including Newstetter, BME Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies Joe Le Doux and Director of Learning Sciences Innovation and Research Barbara Fasse, are scheduled to share their curriculum design approach in March 2013 during a workshop for faculty from across the state.

Potter, director of the Laboratory for NeuroEngineering, was recognized for his self-defined “real world” approach to teaching neuroscience courses. For example, students interview experts in the field and use what they learn from experts and readings to create new neuroscience articles for Wikipedia.

“Nothing is more rewarding for me than to get an email from one of my former students telling me about where they are now and how much they still appreciate and use what they learned in a class of mine,” Potter said. “To get recognition from the USG for leaving a lasting influence on my students is icing on the cake.”

]]> Amelia Pavlik 1 1347875010 2012-09-17 09:43:30 1475896370 2016-10-08 03:12:50 0 0 news The Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) and Steve Potter, associate professor in the Coulter Department, are recipients of the 2013 Regents’ Teaching Excellence Awards.

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2012-09-17T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-17T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-17 00:00:00 Adrianne Proeller
Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

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154301 154301 image <![CDATA[Steve Potter]]> image/jpeg 1449178859 2015-12-03 21:40:59 1475894787 2016-10-08 02:46:27 <![CDATA[Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering]]>
<![CDATA[Study Identifies Genes Associated with Genomic Expansions that Cause Disease]]> 27303 A study of more than 6,000 genes in a common species of yeast has identified the pathways that govern the instability of GAA/TTC repeats. In humans, the expansions of these repeats is known to inactivate a gene – FXN – which leads to Friedreich’s ataxia, a neurodegenerative disease that is currently incurable. In yeast, long repeats also destabilize the genome, manifested by the breakage of chromosomes.  

Working with collaborators at Tufts University, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology identified genetic deficiencies associated with the instability of the repeats in four different classes of genes that control replication, transcription initiation, checkpoint response and telomere maintenance. They were surprised to find that the GAA/TTC repeats could promote gene expression in yeast, suggesting that the repeats may play both positive and negative roles in cells.

While the study examined the repeat metabolisms in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the researchers believe their discoveries may have implications for human disease because many components of genetic machinery have been conserved in evolution.  

The study was reported online Sept. 6 in the journal Molecular Cell. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The expansions occur in GAA/TTC sequences located on the FXN gene that plays a vital role in cell metabolism. Patients with Friedreich’s ataxia can have as many as 1,700 copies of the nucleotide sequence, compared to fewer than 65 copies in individuals without the genetic expansion. Although not yet observed in humans, in yeast the expanded repeats can cause chromosomal fragility, which – despite cellular repair mechanisms – can produce errors resulting in dramatic genomic rearrangements.

“How these expansions happen is a very mysterious process, and we do not know why some people get the disease and some people do not,” said Kirill Lobachev, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biology. “We are trying to develop a simplistic way to determine what individuals may be predisposed to the disease and to find the genotypes where these expansions occur with great frequency.”

At the core of the study was detailed screening of the yeast’s entire genome, some 6,000 genes in all. Conducted by graduate research assistant Yu Zhang, the exhaustive assay identified 33 genes associated with the repeats fragility and expansions.

The connection between genomic expansion and genes that initiate transcription came as a surprise.

“We found that these repeats can recruit transcription initiation factors and induce transcription,” said Lobachev. “The repeats seem to work as non-traditional promoters for an abnormal type of transcription. It turns out that this ability to drive transcription is a significant factor in their instability. That makes this a more complicated story for sure, however, it also opens new avenues to examine the repeats.”

The ability of the repeats to affect the activity of genes may indicate a broader effect on the genome, and if the effect is also seen in humans, could account for some of the subtle differences between individuals.

“By some estimates, there may be a thousand locations in our chromosomes where these repeats can expand,” said Lobachev. “Probably each person differs in the number of repeats in specific locations. This is important because of their ability to change gene expression.”

Among the next steps in the research is to determine how the expansions occur in cells that aren’t dividing, such as neurons. The genetic mechanisms involved in cell replication offer clear opportunities for repeat expansions, but the mechanism for repeat amplification in non-dividing cells remains a mystery. The researchers believe the finding that GAA/TTC repeats can promote transcription provides clues for understanding what is going on in terminally differentiated cells.

Why repeats with the detrimental ability to expand have remained a part of the genomes also remains a question. Genetic processes that hinder an organism’s competitiveness are normally eliminated during the process of evolution.

“Perhaps these repeats play a positive role in the cell when they are small, but because of their ability to expand, they sometimes get out of control and become larger,” Lobachev said.

The findings reported in the yeast, which is commonly used in wine-making and brewing, may help chart a new course in human studies. Scientists often begin genetic research with simpler organisms such as yeast, and use the findings to provide direction for examining similar mechanisms in humans.

“A lot of the processes that are going on in our cells and in yeast cells are the same,” Lobachev noted. “These processes are highly conserved throughout evolution. The history of biology tells us that most probably what we find in yeast is going to turn out to be true in humans.”

Lobachev hopes the study will lead to new research, both in yeast genetics and humans.

“We have built a map for future analysis so that when people sequence the genome and find deficiencies in particular genes, that will be a clear prediction that individuals with those deficiencies will be predisposed to instability,” Lobachev said. “There are now several directions for us and other labs to pursue to see what is really happening here.

In addition to those already mentioned, the study’s authors also included Alexander Shishkin, Dana Marcinkowski-Desmond and Sergei Mirkin from Tufts University, and Yuri Nishida, Natalie Saini and Kirill Volkov from Georgia Tech.

This work was supported by award number R01GM0825950 from NIGMS/NIH and MCB-0818122 from the NSF. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIGMS/NIH or the NSF.

CITATION: Zhang et al., Genome-wide Screen Identifies Pathways that Govern GAA/TTC Fragility and Expansions in Dividing and Nondividing Yeast Cells, Molecular Cell (2012): (dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2012.08.002)

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).
Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1347222136 2012-09-09 20:22:16 1475896367 2016-10-08 03:12:47 0 0 news A study of more than 6,000 genes in a common species of yeast has identified the pathways that govern the instability of GAA/TTC repeats. In humans, the expansions of these repeats is known to inactivate a gene – FXN – which leads to Friedreich’s ataxia, a neurodegenerative disease that is currently incurable. In yeast, long repeats also destabilize the genome, manifested by the breakage of chromosomes. 

]]>
2012-09-09T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-09T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-09 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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152681 152681 image <![CDATA[Studying Trinucleotide Repeats]]> image/jpeg 1449178848 2015-12-03 21:40:48 1475894787 2016-10-08 02:46:27
<![CDATA[A Summer of Monks, Neuroscience]]> 27445 Some spend their summers doing research abroad or enjoying family time at the beach — Lena Ting spends hers debating basic principles of neuroscience with Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in India.            

Since 2008, Ting has participated in the Emory University Tibet Science Initiative that aims to educate a cohort of monks and nuns on the basics of math, biology, neuroscience and physics.

“Many of the participants enter the monastery at age nine and only learn Buddhist philosophy,” said Ting, an associate professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. “But in neuroscience, my area,  we challenge a lot of that philosophy.”

Ting became involved with the program in fall of 2008. Since then, she has volunteered to spend much of her academic years planning lectures for the 60 hours the team spends teaching program participants over two weeks each summer.

“Most of these students are in their late 20s and 30s and have completed at least 10 years of Buddha study — similar to being on a PhD track,” Ting said. “They have a tradition of lively debate in the monasteries, which leads to some of the most engaged in-class discussions I’ve ever been a part of.”

One of the challenges Ting has faced is that these students have centuries-old explanations for things such as pain and negative emotions — explanations that don’t necessarily agree with the explanations that modern scientists, such as Ting, have to offer.

“This leads to the most interesting interactions, because who is to say who is right and who is wrong,” she added. “Both sides offer valid points.”

The program includes two five-year cohorts, one of which graduated this year and the other will next year. Members of the cohorts will go on to start science programs in monasteries.

Recently, The Whistle had an opportunity to learn more about Ting.

What did you want to be when you were a child, and how did you end up at Tech?         
I initially wanted to be an astronaut. In college, I studied mechanical engineering, and gradually I became interested in robotics and animal movement, which translated into an interest in how humans walk and the role the nervous system plays in this process. When it was time to look for a job, Georgia Tech and Emory were two of the places I wanted to work, based on the neuroscience and engineering programs offered. I’ve been at Tech for 10 years now.

Explain your research in a few sentences.    
I study how your brain controls your body, especially when it comes to standing and walking. So a lot of my research focuses on working with people who have Parkinson’s disease or have had a spinal injury or stroke.

Tell us a few things about your research that others might not be aware of.    
I took standing and managing to balance for granted — and used to think “this isn’t even a movement!” But this process is actually a lot harder than a lot of us realize. Also, I find inspiration in what animals are doing. For example, you can learn a lot from how a flamingo or an elephant moves.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
In graduate school, a peer told me to never use an alarm clock. That way, you sleep as much as your body needs to. To this day, I still try to follow this advice as often as possible, and I often share it with my students.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
I don’t leave the office much. But I really like how the green space between Clough Commons and the Student Center has developed. It’s much more open and enjoyable now.

Where is your favorite place to have lunch, and what do you order?
Ribs N Blues, and I order the rib sandwich.  

Tell us something unique about yourself that others might not be aware of.
I play ultimate Frisbee, and my team in grad school won a national championship.

]]> Amelia Pavlik 1 1346834599 2012-09-05 08:43:19 1475896367 2016-10-08 03:12:47 0 0 news Some spend their summers doing research abroad or enjoying family time at the beach — Lena Ting spends hers debating basic principles of neuroscience with Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in India.

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2012-09-04T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-04T00:00:00-04:00 2012-09-04 00:00:00 Amelia Pavlik
Institute Communications
404-385-4142

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151631 151631 image <![CDATA[Lena Ting]]> image/jpeg 1449178848 2015-12-03 21:40:48 1475894787 2016-10-08 02:46:27
<![CDATA[Boyan Named Dean of VCU School of Engineering]]> 27462 Barbara D. Boyan, currently the associate dean for research in Georgia Tech's College of Engineering and the Price Gilbert, Jr. Chair in Tissue Engineering at Georgia Tech, as well as a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, has been named as the new dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering. 

Boyan's new position will be effective Jan. 1, 2013.  She will be working with faculty, staff, students and administrators during the fall semester, however, to ensure a successful ABET accreditation site visit and forward progress on a strategic vision for the School of Engineering.

"Under Barbara's leadership as our associate dean for research and innovation, the College of Engineering has made extraordinary progress in the areas of collaborative research with Emory University, Children's Healthcare, industry, and other partners,” said Gary S. May, dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.  “She has brought a cutting edge vision to biomedical research and translational research especially in the areas of pediatric devices and regenerative medicine."

Boyan is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and in the American Institute of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering.  In 2012, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and just this past June inducted into the Fellows of the World Congress of Biomaterials. Boyan is also the recipient of numerous awards, the author of more than 370 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and book chapters and holds 14 U.S. patents.  She received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in biology from Rice University.

 

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1346082017 2012-08-27 15:40:17 1475896363 2016-10-08 03:12:43 0 0 news Barbara D. Boyan, currently the associate dean for research in Georgia Tech's College of Engineering and the Price Gilbert, Jr. Chair in Tissue Engineering at Georgia Tech, as well as a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, has been named as the new dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering. 

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2012-08-27T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-27T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-27 00:00:00 Kay Kinard, College of Engineering

404-385-7358

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109231 109231 image <![CDATA[Dr. Barbara Boyan]]> image/jpeg 1449178201 2015-12-03 21:30:01 1475894728 2016-10-08 02:45:28 <![CDATA[Barbara Boyan]]>
<![CDATA[New Video - BioEngineering Graduate Program at Georgia Tech]]> 27224 A new video has been launched for the BioEngineering Graduate program at Georgia Tech. The video showcases BioEngineering program faculty and students from different schools and departments at Georgia Tech and Emory University and highlights the diversity of research projects available within the program. The theme of the video, "BioE is the degree for me!" emphasizes the creativity and flexibility of the program.

"The program has never had marketing support before," stated Megan McDevitt, director of communications and marketing for the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. "This program is one of Georgia Tech's best kept secrets, and I look forward to telling the program's story through various communication channels."

The Georgia Tech Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program was established in 1992. Although created twenty years ago, the program reflects Georgia Tech's strategic vision as it blends traditional academic colleges and units and allows students from very different backgrounds to chart their own path by integrating engineering with life sciences.

Graduate students choose a "home school/department" in any one of the four Georgia Tech colleges, however, through the support of the BioEngineering Graduate program, they can then choose to take classes in almost any relevant subject and conduct research with any one of the over 90 participating faculty. This allows tremendous diversity and flexibility for classes, research topics and faculty advisors which literally translates into the student creating their perfect path.

"Gone are the days of traditional, prescribed graduate studies. Students need the flexibility to create their own program," said Andres Garcia, PhD, director of the program. "If a student comes from a strong engineering background, they can tailor their coursework towards the basic sciences, if they have a strong science background, they can dive into the engineering. The BioEngineering Program also provides the flexibility to do cross-disciplinary training across engineering sub-fields. It is completely up to them."

Over 185 students have graduated from the program working with faculty from the Colleges of Engineering, Computing, Sciences, and Architecture as well as Emory University School of Medicine. The program welcomes its newest class of 21 graduate students.

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1345922245 2012-08-25 19:17:25 1475896363 2016-10-08 03:12:43 0 0 news The BioE Graduate PhD and MS program is a unique and interdisciplinary program ranked 2nd in the nation by US News and World Report. Students apply through one of the 8 participating Georgia Tech home schools or departments and students are free to work with any of the 90+ participating program faculty members from the Colleges of Engineering, Computing, Sciences, and Architecture as well as Emory University School of Medicine. The BioE Graduate Program is one of the most innovative and integrative program available at Georgia Tech, giving the students the flexibility and creativity to pursue interdisciplinary research and create their own future.

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2012-08-25T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-25T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-25 00:00:00 Colly Mitchell

Special Projects

Communications, Marketing & Events

Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

Georgia Institute of Technology

 

Chris Ruffin

Academic Advisor

BioEngineering Graduate Program

 

]]>
149341 149341 image <![CDATA[BioEngineering Video Image]]> image/jpeg 1449178763 2015-12-03 21:39:23 1475894782 2016-10-08 02:46:22 <![CDATA[BioEngineering website]]> <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[More Clues About Why Chimps and Humans Are Genetically Different]]> 27560 Ninety-six percent of a chimpanzee’s genome is the same as a human’s. It’s the other 4 percent, and the vast differences, that pique the interest of Georgia Tech’s Soojin Yi. For instance, why do humans have a high risk of cancer, even though chimps rarely develop the disease?

In research published in September’s American Journal of Human Genetics, Yi looked at brain samples of each species. She found that differences in certain DNA modifications, called methylation, may contribute to phenotypic changes. The results also hint that DNA methylation plays an important role for some disease-related phenotypes in humans, including cancer and autism.

“Our study indicates that certain human diseases may have evolutionary epigenetic origins,” says Yi, a faculty member in the School of Biology. “Such findings, in the long term, may help to develop better therapeutic targets or means for some human diseases. “

DNA methylation modifies gene expression but doesn’t change a cell’s genetic information. To understand how it differs between the two species, Yi and her research team generated genome-wide methylation maps of the prefrontal cortex of multiple humans and chimps. They found hundreds of genes that exhibit significantly lower levels of methylation in the human brain than in the chimpanzee brain. Most of them were promoters involved with protein binding and cellular metabolic processes.

“This list of genes includes disproportionately high numbers of those related to diseases,” said Yi. “They are linked to autism, neural-tube defects and alcohol and other chemical dependencies. This suggests that methylation differences between the species might have significant functional consequences. They also might be linked to the evolution of our vulnerability to certain diseases, including cancer.” 

Yi, graduate student Jia Zeng and postdoctoral researcher Brendan Hunt worked with a team of researchers from Emory University and UCLA. The Yerkes National Primate Research Center provided the animal samples used in the study. It was also funded by the Georgia Tech Fund for Innovation in Research and Education (GT-FIRE) and National Science Foundation grants (MCB-0950896 and BCS-0751481). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.

]]> Jason Maderer 1 1345725506 2012-08-23 12:38:26 1475896363 2016-10-08 03:12:43 0 0 news In research published in September’s American Journal of Human Genetics, Soojin Yi looked at brain samples of each species. She found that differences in certain DNA modifications, called methylation, may contribute to phenotypic changes. The results also hint that DNA methylation plays an important role for some disease-related phenotypes in humans, including cancer and autism.

]]>
2012-08-23T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-23T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-23 00:00:00 Jason Maderer
Media Relations
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966

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99141 100361 99141 image <![CDATA[Chimpanzee]]> 1449178142 2015-12-03 21:29:02 1475894712 2016-10-08 02:45:12 100361 image <![CDATA[Dr. Soojin Yi]]> 1449178159 2015-12-03 21:29:19 1475894717 2016-10-08 02:45:17
<![CDATA[C. Ross Ethier Joins Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University]]> 27182 C. Ross Ethier, Ph.D., an internationally recognized leader in the area of biomechanics and mechanobiology recently joined the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University as the new Georgia Research Alliance Lawrence L. Gellerstedt, Jr. Eminent Scholar in Bioengineering. He is considered one of the world’s leading researchers in the study of glaucoma, arterial disease and osteoarthritis. 

“Ethier’s recruitment adds new dimensions to the Coulter Department’s international reputation in biomedical engineering and biomechanics and we are delighted to welcome him to Atlanta,” said Larry McIntire, Wallace H. Coulter Chair and Professor.

Ethier’s research has the potential to create a new paradigm for treating glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness. His glaucoma research focuses on biomechanics of aqueous humor drainage in the normal and glaucomatous eye, and the mechanical and cellular response of optic nerve tissues to intraocular pressure.  Additionally, Ethier studies the hemodynamic basis of arterial disease and mechanobiology of osteoarthritis.

“Dr. Ethier’s strengths in applying his expertise in biomechanics to the understanding of glaucoma, arterial disease and osteoarthritis are world-class,” said C. Michael Cassidy, President and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance. “We anticipate that his work will lead to new treatments for these conditions that affect so many worldwide.”

Ethier comes to Georgia from Imperial College London, where he was Professor and Head of the Department of Bioengineering.  He also directed the $17 million Medical Engineering Solutions in Osteoarthritis Center of Excellence, one of four Wellcome Trust/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centers in the UK.  In addition, he directed the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College.

After earning his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ethier joined the faculty of the University Toronto in 1986, where he built a strong program in biomaterials and biomedical engineering.  In 2007, he was recruited to Imperial College London.

 

Ethier has published widely and has an extensive history of consulting with industry. He is the co-author of Introductory Biomechanics, a textbook widely used in the U.S., Canada and Europe. He is a Fellow of International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineering. 

# # # 

About GRA

A model public-private partnership between Georgia universities, business and state government, the Georgia Research Alliance helps build Georgia’s technology-rich economy in three major ways: through attracting Eminent Scholars to Georgia’s research universities; through investing in sophisticated research tools; and through converting research into products, services and jobs that drive the economy. To learn more about GRA, visit www.gra.org.

About the Coulter Department

The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering is a joint program of the Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Engineering. The Coulter Department’s mission is to shape and advance the discipline of biomedical engineering through innovative research and inspiring education, with the goal of comprehensive integration of engineering methods into the mainstream of health care. The program is ranked second in both undergraduate and graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report. To learn more, visit www.bme.gatech.edu.

 

]]> Adrianne Proeller 1 1345632279 2012-08-22 10:44:39 1475896363 2016-10-08 03:12:43 0 0 news C. Ross Ethier, Ph.D., an internationally recognized leader in the area of biomechanics and mechanobiology recently joined the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University as the new Georgia Research Alliance Lawrence L. Gellerstedt, Jr. Eminent Scholar in Bioengineering. He is considered one of the world’s leading researchers in the study of glaucoma, arterial disease and osteoarthritis. 

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2012-08-22T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-22T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-22 00:00:00 Kathie Robichaud, Georgia Research Alliance

404-332-9770, ext. 24 krobichaud@gra.org

Adrianne Proeller, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University

404-894-2357, adrianne.proeller@bme.gatech.edu

]]>
148511 148511 image <![CDATA[Ross Ethier]]> image/jpeg 1449178763 2015-12-03 21:39:23 1475894782 2016-10-08 02:46:22 <![CDATA[Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Research Alliance]]>
<![CDATA[Petit Institute Seeking Top Undergraduates for 2013 Class of Petit Scholars]]> 27195 The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences is now accepting applications for the 2013 class of Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars. The Petit Scholars program is a competitive scholarship program that serves to develop the next generation of researchers by providing an opportunity to conduct independent research for a full year in Georgia Tech's state-of-the-art laboratories of Petit Institute faculty members.  Scholars work in a wide variety of bio-related research labs that span across all of the colleges of Georgia Tech.  Research is conducted in the areas of cancer biology, biomaterials, computing, drug design, development and delivery, molecular evolution, molecular cellular and tissue biomechanics, regenerative medicine, robotics, stem cell engineering and systems biology.  Scholars are given a stipend and additional funds to purchase materials and supplies.

Since its beginning in 2000, the program has supported hundreds of top undergraduate researchers who have gone on to distinguished careers in research, medicine and industry.  As biotechnology research has grown significantly throughout the Georgia Tech campus, so has the number of Petit Scholars with the funding of 19 scholars in 2012.  To date, the program has funded students from Georgia Tech, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Georgia State University, Emory University, Agnes Scott College and Georgia Gwinnett College.  The Petit Scholars program is funded by Friends of the Petit Institute donors in addition to its endowment from Parker H. "Pete" Petit. 

To make a donation to this program, visit:  Petit Scholars Donations

For any faculty interested in applying for faculty membership in the Petit Institute, click here.

Beginning September 24, 2012, thes Petit Institute will begin accepting research project submissions from graduate student and/or postdocs to be considered to serve as mentors to the incoming class of Petit Scholars.

The application submission deadline for the 2012 Petit Scholars is Friday, September 21, 2012. 

For complete program requirements and online application, visit:  2013 Petit Scholars

Program Administrator:  Colly Mitchell
Faculty Advisor:  Todd McDevitt, PhD





 

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1345041379 2012-08-15 14:36:19 1475896360 2016-10-08 03:12:40 0 0 news Petit Institute Seeking Top Undergraduates - Applications for 2013 Petit Scholars now being accepted.  Deadline Friday, September 21, 2012.

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2012-08-20T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-20T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-20 00:00:00 Colly Mitchell - program administrator
Todd McDevitt, PhD - faculty advisor

 

]]>
147791 147791 image <![CDATA[Petit Scholar Daniel McGrail and Petit Mentor Deepraj Ghosh discuss research with Michelle Dawson, PhD]]> image/jpeg 1449178763 2015-12-03 21:39:23 1475894782 2016-10-08 02:46:22 <![CDATA[Petit Scholars info and application]]> <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[Automated Worm Sorter Detects Subtle Differences in Tiny Animals Used in Genetic Research]]> 27303 Research into the genetic factors behind certain disease mechanisms, illness progression and response to new drugs is frequently carried out using tiny multi-cellular animals such as nematodes, fruit flies or zebra fish. Often, progress relies on the microscopic visual examination of many individual animals to detect mutants worthy of further study.

Now, scientists have demonstrated an automated system that uses artificial intelligence and cutting-edge image processing to rapidly examine large numbers of individual Caenorhabditis elegans, a species of nematode widely used in biological research. Beyond replacing existing manual examination steps using microfluidics and automated hardware, the system’s ability to detect subtle differences from worm-to-worm – without human intervention – can identify genetic mutations that might not have been detected otherwise.

By allowing thousands of worms to be examined autonomously in a fraction of the time required for conventional manual screening, the technique could change the way that high throughput genetic screening is carried out using C. elegans.

Details of the research were reported August 19th in the advance online publication of the journal Nature Methods. The research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“While humans are very good at pattern recognition, computers are much better than humans at detecting subtle differences, such as small changes in the location of dots or slight variations in the brightness of an image,” said Hang Lu, the project’s lead researcher and an associate professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “This technique found differences that would have been almost impossible to pick out by hand.”

Lu’s research team is studying genes that affect the formation and development of synapses in the worms, work that could have implications for understanding human brain development. The researchers use a model in which synapses of specific neurons are labeled by a fluorescent protein. Their research involves creating mutations in the genomes of thousands of worms and examining the resulting changes in the synapses. Mutant worms identified in this way are studied further to help understand what genes may have caused the changes in the synapses.

One aspect the researchers are studying is why synapses form in the wrong locations, or are of the wrong sizes or types. The differences between the mutants and the normal or “wild type” worms indicate inappropriate developmental patterns caused by the genetic mutations.

Because of the large number of possible genes involved in these developmental processes, the researchers must examine thousands of worms – perhaps as many as 100,000 – to exhaust the search. Lu and her research group had earlier developed a microfluidic “worm sorter” that speeds up the process of examining worms under a microscope, but until now, there were two options for detecting the mutants: a human had to look at each animal, or a simple heuristic algorithm was used to make the sorting decision. Neither option is objective or adaptable to new problems.

Lu’s system, an optimized version of earlier work by her group, uses a camera to record three-dimensional images of each worm as it passes through the sorter. The system compares each image set against what it has been taught the “wild type” worms should look like. Worms that are even subtly different from normal can be sorted out for further study.

“We feed the program wild-type images, and it teaches itself to recognize what differentiates the wild type. It uses this information to determine what a mutant type may look like – which is information we didn’t provide to the system – and sorts the worms based on that,” explained Matthew Crane, a graduate student who performed the work. “We don’t have to show the computer every possible mutant, and that is very powerful. And the computer never gets bored.”

While the system was designed to sort C. elegans for a specific research project, Lu believes the machine learning technology – which is borrowed from computer science – could be applied to other areas of biology that use model genetic organisms. The system’s hardware and software are currently being used in several other laboratories beyond Georgia Tech.   

“Our automated technique can be generalized to anything that relies on detecting a morphometric – or shape, size or brightness difference,” Lu said. “We can apply this to anything that can be detected visually, and we think this could be expanded to studying many other problems related to learning, memory, neuro-degeneration and neural developmental diseases that this worm can be used to model.”

Individual C. elegans are less than a millimeter long and thinner than a strand of hair, but have 302 neurons with well-defined synapses. While research using single cells can be simpler to do, studies using the worms are good in vivo models for many important processes relevant to human health.

Other researchers who contributed to this paper include student Jeffrey Stirman from Georgia Tech’s interdisciplinary program in bioengineering, Professor James Rehg from Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, and three researchers from the Department of Biology at Stanford University’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Chan-Yen Ou, Peri Kurshan, and Professor Kang Shen.

The autonomous processing facilitated by the new system could allow researchers to examine more animals more rapidly, potentially opening up areas of study that are not feasible today.

“We are hoping that the technology will really change the approach people can take to this kind of research,” said Lu.  “We expect that this approach will enable people to do much larger scale experiments that can push the science forward beyond looking what individual mutations are doing in a specific situation.”

The project described was supported by Award Numbers R01GM088333, R21EB012803 and R01AG035317 from the National Institutes of Health. This material is also based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CAREER CBET-0954578. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National lnstitutes of Health or the National Science Foundation.

Citation: Matthew Crane, Jeffrey Stirman, Chan-Yen Ou, Peri Kurshan, James Rehg, Kang Shen & Hang Lu, Autonomous screening of C. elegans identifies genes implicated in synaptogenesis, DOI: 10.1038/NMETH.2141

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu)

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1345375900 2012-08-19 11:31:40 1475896360 2016-10-08 03:12:40 0 0 news Scientists have demonstrated an automated system that uses artificial intelligence and cutting-edge image processing to rapidly examine large numbers of individual nematodes, a tiny animal widely used in biological research.

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2012-08-19T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-19T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-19 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

jtoon@gatech.edu

(404) 894-6986

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147271 147261 147281 147271 image <![CDATA[Automated Worm Sorter2]]> image/jpeg 1449178763 2015-12-03 21:39:23 1475894782 2016-10-08 02:46:22 147261 image <![CDATA[Automated Worm Sorter]]> image/jpeg 1449178763 2015-12-03 21:39:23 1475894782 2016-10-08 02:46:22 147281 image <![CDATA[Automated Worm Sorter3]]> image/jpeg 1449178763 2015-12-03 21:39:23 1475894782 2016-10-08 02:46:22
<![CDATA[Wet Mammals Shake Dry in Milliseconds]]> 27462 If you’ve ever bathed a dog, you know firsthand how quickly a drenched pup can shake water off.

Now researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found that furry mammals can shake themselves 70 percent dry in just a fraction of a second.

David Hu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biology at Georgia Tech, and mechanical engineering graduate student Andrew Dickerson, who led the project, used high-speed videography and fur particle tracking to characterize the shakes of 33 different animals – 16 species and five dog breeds – at Zoo Atlanta. The research was published in the Journal of Royal Society Interface.

Understanding the physics of the wet dog shake could help engineers recreate the optimal oscillation frequency and use it to improve the efficiency of washing machines, dryers, painting devices, spin coaters and other machines. 

"We hope the findings from our research will contribute to technology that can harness these efficient and quick capabilities of drying seen in nature,” Dickerson said.

It may even lead to improved functioning for robotics, such as the Mars Rover, which suffered reduced power from the accumulation of dust on its solar panels.

“In the future, self-cleaning and self-drying may arise as an important capability for cameras and other equipment subject to wet or dusty conditions,” Hu said.

Over millions of years, animals have perfected the mechanism to dry quickly to avoid hypothermia. Wet fur, being a poor insulator, causes the animal to lose heat quickly and the evaporation of the entrapped water may zap an animal’s energy reserves, making it a matter of life or death to remain dry in cold weather, Hu said.

Small animals may trap substantial volumes of water in their fur for their size. For example, when emerging for a bath, a person carries one pound of water. A rat, however, carries five percent of its mass and an ant three times its mass.

Georgia Tech researchers found that animals oscillate at frequencies sufficient to lose water droplets and that shaking frequency is a function of animal size.

The larger the animal, the more slowly it shakes dry, Hu and Dickerson said. For example, a mouse moves its body back and forth 27 times per second, but a grizzly bear shakes four times per second. The tinier mammals can experience more than 20 g’s of acceleration.

Mammals with fur, unlike humans, tend to have loose skin that whips around as the animal changes direction, increasing the acceleration. This is crucial to shaking success, and subsequently, body heat regulation, Dickerson said. 

“What would you do on a cold day if you were wet and could not towel off or change clothes? Every warm-blooded furry creature faces this dilemma often,” Dickerson said. “It turns out that oscillatory shaking exhibited by mammals is a quite efficient way to dry.”

In addition to observing live animals, the engineers also built a robotic wet-dog-shake simulator to further study how drops were ejected.

Hu and Dickerson will continue to look at how animals interact with water in the natural world. Specifically, the researchers want to investigate how animals such as beavers and otters have adapted to life in the water and how water droplets interact with hair. 

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1292508695 2010-12-16 14:11:35 1475896074 2016-10-08 03:07:54 0 0 news If you’ve ever bathed a dog, you know firsthand how quickly a drenched pup can shake water off. Now researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found that furry mammals can shake themselves 70 percent dry in just a fraction of a second.

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2012-08-16T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-16T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-16 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
laura.diamond@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-660-2926

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63204 63204 image <![CDATA[Wet dog shake]]> image/jpeg 1449176668 2015-12-03 21:04:28 1475894554 2016-10-08 02:42:34 <![CDATA[David Hu's lab website]]> <![CDATA[Andrew Dickerson's website]]>
<![CDATA[Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) receives $31 Million NIH grant renewal]]> 27195 EMORY Health Sciences News

ATLANTA—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $30.7 million over the next five years to the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) for the renewal of its NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). The ACTSI is an Atlanta research partnership focused on transforming the quality and value of clinical research and translating research results into better outcomes for patients.

The ACTSI, led by Emory University and its Woodruff Health Sciences Center, was originally established in 2007 through an initial five-year NIH grant of $30.9 million, along with primary academic partners Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia Institute of Technology.

“The ACTSI has created a unique opportunity for synergy among historic partners in health care, education and cutting-edge research, and has emerged as an innovative and integrated environment where clinical and translational researchers in Atlanta can flourish,” says David S. Stephens, MD, vice president for research in Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center and principal investigator and director of the ACTSI. “The ACTSI is a catalyst and incubator for clinical and translational research across the city of Atlanta, with impacts throughout Georgia, the Southeast and nationally.”

“The ACTSI has been an extremely successful research partnership that positions Georgia as a leader in improving access to new discoveries that improve health outcomes for all its citizens,” says Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. “The refunding of this significant grant by the NIH is a recognition of the ACTSI’s many accomplishments and Georgia partnerships and demonstrates confidence in our academic, research and health care leadership to continue advancing health care research and clinical care.”

The ACTSI unites the strengths of its academic partners: Emory’s national leadership in biomedical research and health care; Georgia Tech’s leadership and vision in biomedical engineering, computation, and the application of innovative systems engineering to health care solutions; and Morehouse School of Medicine’s national presence as a historically black institution that brings ethnic diversity to biomedical research, addresses health disparities through successful community engagement research, and serves as a pipeline for training minority investigators.

ACTSI health care partners include Emory Healthcare, Morehouse Medical Associates, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Grady Health System, Atlanta VA Medical Center, the Atlanta Community Physicians Network and Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. Other key science partners include Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute, the Georgia Research Alliance, Georgia Bio, and the Prevention Research Centers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“ACTSI has established strong clinical and research partnerships by leveraging the infrastructure support of the NIH funded Research Centers at Minority Institutions (RCMI) at Morehouse School of Medicine. We are poised to implement innovative patient centered and participatory care delivery models, toward the elimination of health disparities,” said Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, Associate Dean for Research at Morehouse School of Medicine and ACTSI Senior Co-Principal Investigator. “

ACTSI is an important partner to Georgia Tech’s Translational Research Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Science (TRIBES) and its FDA-sponsored Atlanta Pediatric Device Consortium (APDC),” says Dr. Barbara Boyan, associate dean for research and innovation in Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering and executive director of TRIBES and APDC. TRIBES and APDC have the mission of developing novel technologies using systems engineering approaches, to enhance their commercialization and as a result, improve healthcare practice and delivery. Georgia Tech’s educational programs, including capstone design in the joint Georgia Tech and Emory Department of Biomedical Engineering, the new professional master’s degree program on Biomedical Innovation and Development, and the joint Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (Ti:ger) program form an ideal environment for ACTSI’s success at Tech.

For more information, visit: ACTSI
Interact with Emory Health Sciences

The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focusing on teaching, research, health care and public service.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1344866291 2012-08-13 13:58:11 1475896360 2016-10-08 03:12:40 0 0 news NIH awards $30.7 million renewal to ACTSI for its Clinical and Translational Science Award

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2012-08-13T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-13T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-13 00:00:00 Media Contact: Holly Korschun
404-727-3990

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146091 146091 image <![CDATA[The Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute is a partnership aimed at improving clinical research and translating results into better patient outcomes.]]> image/jpeg 1449178751 2015-12-03 21:39:11 1475894779 2016-10-08 02:46:19 <![CDATA[The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University]]> <![CDATA[ACTSI website]]>
<![CDATA[Cathepsin Cannibalism: Enzymes Attack One Another Instead of Harming Proteins]]> 27303 Researchers for the first time have shown that members of a family of enzymes known as cathepsins – which are implicated in many disease processes – may attack one another instead of the bodily proteins they normally degrade. Dubbed “cathepsin cannibalism,” the phenomenon may help explain problems with drugs that have been developed to inhibit the effects of these powerful proteases.

Cathepsins are involved in disease processes as varied as cancer metastasis, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and arthritis. Because cathepsins have harmful effects on critical proteins such as collagen and elastin, pharmaceutical companies have been developing drugs to inhibit activity of the enzymes, but so far these compounds have had too many side effects to be useful and have failed clinical trials.

Using a combination of modeling and experiments, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have shown that one type of cathepsin preferentially attacks another, reducing the enzyme’s degradation of collagen. The work could affect not only the development of drugs to inhibit cathepsin activity, but could also lead to a better understanding of how the enzymes work together.

“These findings provide a new way of thinking about how these proteases are working with and against each other to remodel tissue – or fight against each other,” said Manu Platt, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “There has been an assumption that these cathepsins have been inert in relationship to one another, when in actuality they have been attacking one another. We think this may have broader implications for other classes of proteases.”

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Georgia Cancer Coalition. Details of the study were reported August 10 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Platt and student Zachary Barry made their discovery accidentally while investigating the effects of cathepsin K and cathepsin S – two of the 11-member cathepsin family. Cathepsin K degrades both collagen and elastin, and is one of the most powerful proteases. Cathepsin S degrades elastin, and does not strongly attack collagen.

When the researchers combined the two cathepsins and allowed them to attack samples of elastin, they expected to see increased degradation of the protein. What they saw, however, was not much more damage than cathepsin K did by itself.

Platt at first believed the experiment was flawed, and asked Barry – an undergraduate student in his lab who specializes in modeling – to examine what possible conditions could account for the experimental result. Barry’s modeling suggested that effects observed could occur if cathepsin S were degrading cathepsin K instead of attacking the elastin – a protein essential in arteries and the cardiovascular system.

That theoretical result led to additional experiments in which the researchers measured a direct correlation between an increase in the amount of cathepsin S added to the experiment and a reduction in the degradation of collagen. By increasing the amount of cathepsin S ten-fold over the amount used in the original experiment, Platt and Barry were able to completely block the activity of cathepsin K, preventing damage to the collagen sample.

“We saw that the cathepsin K was going away much faster when there was cathepsin S present than when it was by itself,” said Platt, who is also a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar and a Fellow of the Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology. “We kept increasing the amount of cathepsin S until the collagen was not affected at all because all of the cathepsin K was eaten by the cathepsin S.”

The researchers used a variety of tests to determine the amount of each enzyme, including fluorogenic substrate analysis, Western blotting and multiplex cathepsin zymography – a sensitive technique developed in the Platt laboratory.

Beyond demonstrating for the first time that cathepsins can attack one another, the research also shows the complexity of the body’s enzyme system – and may suggest why drugs designed to inhibit cathepsins haven’t worked as intended.

“The effect of the cathepsins on one another complicates the system,” said Platt. “If you are targeting this system pharmaceutically, you may not have the types or quantities of cathepsins that you expect, which could cause off-target binding and side effects that were not anticipated.”

Platt’s long-term research has focused on cathepsins, including the development of sensitive tools and assays to quantify their activity in cells and tissue, as well as potential diagnostic applications for breast, lung and cervical cancer. Cathepsins normally operate within cells to carry out housekeeping tasks such as breaking down proteins that are no longer needed.

“These enzymes are very powerful, but they have been overlooked because they are difficult to study,” said Platt. “We are changing the way that people view them.”

For the future, Platt plans to study interactions of additional cathepsins – as many as three or four are released during certain disease processes – and to develop a comprehensive model of how these proteases interact while they degrade collagen and elastin. That model could be useful to the designers of future drugs.

“As we build toward a comprehensive model of how these enzymes work, we can begin to understand how they behave in the extracellular matrix around these cells,” said Platt. “That will help us be smarter about how we go about treating diseases and designing new drugs.”

The project described was supported by Award Number DP2OD007433 from the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, or the National lnstitutes of Health. This material is also based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under the Science and Technology Center Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular systems (EBICS) Grant No. CBET-0939511.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W, Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA

Media Relations Assistance: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1344861914 2012-08-13 12:45:14 1475896360 2016-10-08 03:12:40 0 0 news Researchers for the first time have shown that members of a family of enzymes known as cathepsins – which are implicated in many disease processes – may attack one another instead of the proteins they normally degrade. Dubbed “cathepsin cannibalism,” the phenomenon may help explain problems with drugs that have been developed to inhibit the effects of these powerful proteases.

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2012-08-13T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-13T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-13 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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68625 146021 68625 image <![CDATA[Manu Platt, PhD - Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering]]> image/jpeg 1449177185 2015-12-03 21:13:05 1475894597 2016-10-08 02:43:17 146021 image <![CDATA[Manu Platt - Cathepsin Cannibalism]]> image/jpeg 1449178751 2015-12-03 21:39:11 1475894779 2016-10-08 02:46:19
<![CDATA[Third Class of Stem Cell Biomanufacturing IGERT Trainees Selected]]> 27224 The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program in Stem Cell Biomanufacturing announced its third class of Ph.D. student trainees. The five new graduate students come from a wide variety of disciplines including the School of Chemical and Biomolecular  Engineering, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

“This grant provides a unique training opportunity for top engineering graduate students looking to understand how to control stem cells into clinically relevant numbers,” stated Todd McDevitt, PhD.

McDevitt, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering is co-directing the IGERT program with Robert M. Nerem, professor emeritus of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.  McDevitt is also director of the Stem Cell Engineering Center which administers this award.

Recently highlighted by Nature magazine as one of the “out of the box” manufacturing educational programs in the country, the $3 million NSF-funded IGERT was awarded to Georgia Tech in 2010 to educate and train the first generation of Ph.D. students in the translation and commercialization of stem cell technologies for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

The Stem Cell Biomanufacturing IGERT program supports new incoming Georgia Tech Ph.D. students for their first two years of graduate school. The program offers a core curriculum in stem cell engineering and bioprocessing coupled with elective tracks in advanced technologies, public policy, ethics or entrepreneurship.

“The current state of the field of stem cell research offers a unique opportunity for engineers to contribute significantly to the generation of robust, reproducible and scalable methods for phenotypic characterization, propagation, differentiation and bioprocessing of stem cells,” McDevitt added.

Trainees are afforded opportunities to meet with leading experts in the field who visit as part of the Stem Cell Engineering seminar series, attend the annual stem cell engineering workshop, participate in outreach activities and interact with representatives from leading companies during Georgia Tech’s annual Bio Industry Symposium.

Georgia Tech's Stem Cell Biomanufacturing IGERT award will support at least 30 graduate students over the 5 years of the award.


2012 Trainees

Olivia Burnsed - Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Efrain Cermeno - Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Albert Cheng - Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Jose Garcia - George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Emily Jackson - School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


2011 Trainees

Tom Bongiorno – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Rob Dromms – School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Devon Headen – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Greg Holst – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Torri Rinker – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Shalini Saxena – School of Material Science & Engineering

Josh Zimmerman – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering


2010 Trainees

Amy Cheng – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Alison Douglas – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Jennifer Lei – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Douglas White – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Jenna Wilson – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1344420456 2012-08-08 10:07:36 1475896360 2016-10-08 03:12:40 0 0 news The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program in Stem Cell Biomanufacturing announced its third class of Ph.D. student trainees.

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2012-08-08T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-08T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-08 00:00:00 Megan McDevitt

Marketing Communications Director
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

 

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71676 71716 71676 image <![CDATA[IGERT Trainees with NSF Director, Subra Suresh, PhD]]> image/jpeg 1449177396 2015-12-03 21:16:36 1475894642 2016-10-08 02:44:02 71716 image <![CDATA[Stem Cell Biomanufacturing IGERT 2011 Trainee Class]]> image/jpeg 1449177396 2015-12-03 21:16:36 1475894642 2016-10-08 02:44:02 <![CDATA[Stem Cell Biomanufacturing IGERT]]> <![CDATA[Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[Using Millions of Years of Cell Evolution in the Fight Against Cancer]]> 27560 As the medical community continues to make positive strides in personalized cancer therapy, scientists know some dead ends are unavoidable. Drugs that target specific genes in cancerous cells are effective, but not all proteins are targetable. In fact, it has been estimated that as few as 10 to 15 percent of human proteins are potentially targetable by drugs. For this reason, Georgia Tech researchers are focusing on ways to fight cancer by attacking defective genes before they are able to make proteins.

Professor John McDonald is studying micro RNAs (miRNAs), a class of small RNAs that interact with messenger RNAs (mRNAs) that have been linked to a number of diseases, including cancer. McDonald’s lab placed two different miRNAs (MiR-7 and MiR-128) into ovarian cancer cells and watched how they affected the gene system. The findings are published in the current edition of the journal BMC Medical Genomics.

“Each inserted miRNA created hundreds of thousands of gene expression changes, but only about 20 percent of them were caused by direct interactions with mRNAs,” said McDonald. “The majority of the changes were indirect – they occurred downstream and were consequences of the initial reactions.”

McDonald initially wondered if those secondary interactions could be a setback for the potential use of miRNAs, because most of them changed the gene expressions of something other than the intended targets. However, McDonald noticed that most of what changed downstream was functionally coordinated.  

miR-7 transfection most significantly affected the pathways involved with cell adhesion, epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) and other processes linked with cancer metastasis. The pathways most often affected by miR-128 transfection were different. They were more related to cell cycle control and processes involved with cellular replication – another process that is overactive in cancer cells.

“miRNAs have evolved for millions of years in order to coordinately regulate hundreds to thousands of genes together on the cellular level,” said McDonald. “If we can understand which miRNAs affect which suites of genes and their coordinated functions, it could allow clinicians to attack cancer cells on a systems level, rather than going after genes individually.”

Clinical trials for miRNAs are just beginning to be explored, but definitive findings are likely still years away because there are hundreds of miRNAs whose cellular functions must be fully understood. Another challenge facing scientists is developing ways to effectively target therapeutic miRNAs to cancer cells, something McDonald and his Georgia Tech peers are also investigating.

McDonald is a professor in the School of Biology in Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences.

]]> Jason Maderer 1 1344343009 2012-08-07 12:36:49 1475896356 2016-10-08 03:12:36 0 0 news Professor John McDonald is studying micro RNAs (miRNAs), a class of small RNAs that interact with messenger RNAs (mRNAs) that have been linked to a number of diseases, including cancer. McDonald’s lab placed two different miRNAs (MiR-7 and MiR-128) into ovarian cancer cells and watched how they affected the gene system.

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2012-08-07T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-07T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-07 00:00:00 Jason Maderer
Media Relations
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966

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101211 101211 image <![CDATA[John McDonald]]> 1449178159 2015-12-03 21:29:19 1475894717 2016-10-08 02:45:17 <![CDATA[John McDonald]]> <![CDATA[School of Biology]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences]]>
<![CDATA[The Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery Announces the 2012-2013 Class of GAANN Fellows.]]> 27224 The U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program provides funds each year for doctoral students conducting research in drug design, development and delivery.  These focus areas are intended to broadly encompass topics relevant to pharmaceutical research. The GAANN program is open to eligible graduate students from all Georgia Tech schools and departments. 

“This year’s GAANN fellows were selected from an outstanding pool of applicants, who are carrying out high-impact research addressing a broad range of pharmaceutical needs” said Mark Prausnitz, PhD, Regents' professor and Love Family professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and director of CD4, who serves as the principle investigator of the program. 

The new class of fellows represent a diverse group of students from biomedical engineering, chemistry, chemical and biomolecular engineering and materials science and engineering.  

“While most academic training programs address one particular aspect of pharmaceutical research, at Georgia Tech, we have an integrative approach that brings together scientists and engineers from many disciplines to improve the process of pharmaceutical development that includes drug design, manufacturing and delivery. Through the GAANN training grant, we are training future leaders of pharmaceutical research who understand the complex, interconnected process of bringing a drug from idea to product,” Prausnitz added

Since the program’s inception in 2003, over 130 fellowships have been awarded.  Solicitation for the 2013-2013 fellows will take place beginning in April 2013.



The 2012-2013 GAANN fellows:

Rayaj Ahmed – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Samantha Au – Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
W. Chris Edens – Biomedical Engineering
Hiroyuki Ichikawa – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Russell Jampol – Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Yoo Chun Kim – Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Jonathan Park – Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Michelle Razumov – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mark Spears – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Maeling Tapp – Material Science and Engineering
Aubrey Tiernan – Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Alex Weller – Material Science and Engineering
Jenna Wilson – Biomedical Engineering 

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1343831072 2012-08-01 14:24:32 1475896356 2016-10-08 03:12:36 0 0 news The U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program provides funds each year for doctoral students conducting research in drug design, development and delivery.  These focus areas are intended to broadly encompass topics relevant to pharmaceutical research. The GAANN program is open to eligible graduate students from all Georgia Tech schools and departments. 

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2012-08-01T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-01T00:00:00-04:00 2012-08-01 00:00:00 Megan Graziano McDevitt
Marketing Communications Director
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience (IBB) 
Georgia Institute of Technology

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133171 144621 133171 image <![CDATA[Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery (CD4)]]> image/jpeg 1449178659 2015-12-03 21:37:39 1475894759 2016-10-08 02:45:59 144621 image <![CDATA[Mark Prausnitz]]> image/jpeg 1449178739 2015-12-03 21:38:59 1475894777 2016-10-08 02:46:17 <![CDATA[Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]> <![CDATA[CD4 website]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Show Potential of Microneedles to Target Drugs to the Back of the Eye]]> 27303 Thanks to tiny microneedles, eye doctors may soon have a better way to treat diseases such as macular degeneration that affect tissues in the back of the eye. That could be important as the population ages and develops more eye-related illnesses – and as pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs that otherwise could only be administered by injecting into the eye with a hypodermic needle.

For the first time, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have demonstrated that microneedles less than a millimeter in length can deliver drug molecules and particles to the eye in an animal model. The injection targeted the suprachoroidal space of the eye, which provides a natural passageway for drug injected across the white part (sclera) of the eye to flow along the eye’s inner surface and subsequently into the back of the eye. The minimally-invasive technique could represent a significant improvement over conventional methods that inject drugs into the center of the eye – or use eyedrops, which have limited effectiveness in treating many diseases.

The study was reported in the July issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. The research was supported by the National Eye Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and by the organization Research to Prevent Blindness.

“This research could lead to a simple and safe procedure that offers doctors a better way to target drugs to specific locations in the eye,” said Samirkumar Patel, the paper’s first author and a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech when the research was conducted. “The design and simplicity of the microneedle device may make it more likely to be used in the clinic as a way to administer drug formulations into the suprachoroidal space that surrounds the eye.”

Patel, who is now director of research for Clearside Biomedical – a startup company formed to commercialize the technology – said the study also showed that the suprachoroidal space could accommodate a variety of drugs and microparticles. That could open the door for the use of timed-release drugs that could reduce the need for frequent injections to treat chronic eye diseases.

The suprachoroidal space is located between two important structures in the eye: the sclera and the choroid. Fluids injected into that space travel circumferentially around the eye, which flows drug solution directly over the choroid and adjacent retina – which are the targets for many drug compounds. The new study showed that injections of fluids containing molecules and particles into that space not only reach the targeted structures, but also remain there for extended time periods. And equally important, the molecules and particles do not significantly reach the lens or front part of the eye, where side effects from drugs can occur.

“The study showed that if we inject non-degradable particles into the suprachoroidal space and wait as long as two months, the particles remain,” said Mark Prausnitz, a Regents professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “That means there is no natural mechanism to remove the particles from the eye. Knowing this, we can design biodegradable particles with drugs encapsulated in them that can slowly release those drugs over a period of time that we could control.”

Currently, doctors typically have two choices for administering drugs to the eye: eye drops and injection with a traditional hypodermic needle into the vitreous at the center of the eye. While injections into the vitreous do reach their target, they also affect other portions of the eye where the drug may not be desirable. Eye drops, which are simple to use, often fail to reach the structures being targeted, Prausnitz said.

Henry Edelhauser, a professor of ophthalmology at Emory School of Medicine, said pharmaceutical companies are now developing new compounds to treat eye diseases. Those drugs will be most effective if they can be delivered directly to the portion of the eye that requires treatment, such as the choroid and retina that this new delivery method targets.

“With this technique, we are keeping the drug right where it needs to be for most therapies of interest in the back of the eye,” he said.

The microneedles used in the technique are made of stainless steel and are less than one millimeter long. The researchers believe that they will cause less trauma to the eye than the larger hypodermic needles, and reduce the risk of infection.

The model compounds used in this study fluoresced inside the eye, showing researchers that they had reached their targets. But the compounds studied were not drugs, so the next step, according to Edelhauser, will be to study how well the microneedle technique can get real drugs to the eye structures of interest.

The technology has been licensed to an Atlanta-based startup, Clearside Biomedical, which plans to advance the micro-injection technology developed in collaboration between the research groups of Mark Prausnitz at Georgia Tech and Henry Edelhauser at Emory.

Clearside Biomedical was formed with the assistance of Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program, which helped obtain early-stage seed funding from the Georgia Research Alliance. Clearside has received $4 million in funding mostly from Hatteras Venture Partners, a venture capital firm based in Durham, N.C.

In addition to those already mentioned, the study involved Damian Berezovsky and Bernard McCarey from the Emory Eye Center in the Emory University School of Medicine, and Vladimir Zarnitsyn from the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Development of the intraocular microneedle demonstrates the strength of collaboration between researchers at Emory University and Georgia Tech.

“This project leveraged the skills of both institutions and came up with a solution that we could never have developed independently,” Prausnitz said. “With support from the National Institutes of Health, we have developed a solution that could give patients with eye diseases the medication they need in a more effective way.”

Henry Edelhauser, Samirkumar Patel, Mark Prausnitz, Vladimir Zarnitsyn, Emory University and Georgia Tech have financial interests in Clearside Biomedical and its ocular platform. Edelhauser, Patel, Prausnitz and Zarnitsyn own equity in Clearside and the terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Emory University or Georgia Tech in accordance with their conflict of interest policies.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 309
Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA

Media Relations Contacts: John Toon (404-894-6986)(jtoon@gatech.edu).
Writer: John Toon

]]> John Toon 1 1342989176 2012-07-22 20:32:56 1475896353 2016-10-08 03:12:33 0 0 news Thanks to tiny microneedles, eye doctors may soon have a better way to treat diseases such as macular degeneration that affect tissues in the back of the eye. That could be important as the population ages and develops more eye-related illnesses – and as pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs that otherwise could only be administered by injecting into the eye with a hypodermic needle.

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2012-07-23T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-23T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-23 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Petit Institute awards seed grants to three interdisciplinary teams]]> 27195 The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (Petit Institute) awarded $50,000 to three interdisciplinary teams under its Petit Bioengineering and Bioscience Collaborative Seed Grant program, which was created to support early-stage innovative biotechnology research. Proposals were submitted by teams comprised of two Petit Institute faculty with appointments in different academic colleges.

“The overall quality of the twelve collaborative proposals submitted this year was exceptionally high and we are very excited about the three projects selected for funding. In each case, we are bringing together a scientist and an engineer who have not previously worked together,” said Robert E. Guldberg, PhD, executive director of the Petit Institute.

One team, Andrew Lyon, PhD, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, proposed a project which aims to reduce hemorrhage in trauma-related injuries by developing a new targeted drug-delivery system that uses the patient's own platelets as “nanomachines” to trigger controlled release of drugs and induce clotting at sites of active bleeding. This new “smart” drug delivery system has the potential to overcome the limited specificity and efficacy of current nanoparticle-based systems and could lead to much needed novel treatment strategies for acute bleeding.

Brandon Dixon, PhD, assistant professor from George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and Fredrik Vannberg, PhD, assistant professor from the School of Biology are partnering on a project entitled, “Non-invasive NIR imaging towards establishing a role for lymphatic trafficking of exosomes in vivo.” Although exosomes, vesicles 40-100 nanometers in size, were discovered over a decade ago their functional role in vivo is still uncertain. The hope of this project is to combine near-infrared imaging tools developed in the Dixon lab with exosomal biology and transcriptional regulation research from the Vannberg lab to establish lymphatic transport of exosomes as a universal mechanism to promote communication at a distance between cells outside of the lymph node with those in the node.

In addition, Lena Ting, PhD, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and Randy Trumbower, PT, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy at Emory and the School of Applied Physiology at Georgia Tech, will explore a non-invasive approach to improving motor recovery after incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) using a novel breathing intervention. Combining Ting’s expertise in neuromechanics of movement with Trumbower’s expertise in spinal cord injury rehabilitation, they will use state-of-the-art computational methods to test whether acute intermittent hypoxia, or breathing low oxygen levels, induces neural plasticity in the spinal cord, altering muscle coordination in a manner that improves walking function in persons with incomplete SCI.

Funding for the new seed grants comes chiefly from the Petit Institute's endowment as well as contributions from the College of Sciences and the College of Engineering. Each team will receive $50,000 a year for two years; however, the second year of funding will be contingent on submission of an external collaborative grant proposal.

“This initiative embraces the Petit Institute’s mission, funding cutting-edge research at the interface of bioengineering and the biosciences,” Guldberg added. “We look forward to seeing the progress made by these teams as they establish preliminary results to apply for large external grant proposals.”

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1343050251 2012-07-23 13:30:51 1475896353 2016-10-08 03:12:33 0 0 news $50,000 seed grants awarded to support early-stage innovative biotechnology research.

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2012-07-23T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-23T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-23 00:00:00 Megan McDevitt, CMP
Director of Communications and Marketing
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

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69773 69773 image <![CDATA[Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]> image/jpeg 1449177264 2015-12-03 21:14:24 1475894611 2016-10-08 02:43:31 <![CDATA[Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[Giving Ancient Life Another Chance to Evolve]]> 27560 It’s a project 500 million years in the making. Only this time, instead of playing on a movie screen in Jurassic Park, it’s happening in a lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action.

“This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life,” said scientist Betül Kacar, a NASA astrobiology postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech’s NASA Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution. “The ability to observe an ancient gene in a modern organism as it evolves within a modern cell allows us to see whether the evolutionary trajectory once taken will repeat itself or whether a life will adapt following a different path.”

In 2008, Kacar’s postdoctoral advisor, Associate Professor of Biology Eric Gaucher, successfully determined the ancient genetic sequence of Elongation Factor-Tu (EF-Tu), an essential protein in E. coli. EFs are one of the most abundant proteins in bacteria, found in all known cellular life and required for bacteria to survive. That vital role made it a perfect protein for the scientists to answer questions about evolution.

After achieving the difficult task of placing the ancient gene in the correct chromosomal order and position in place of the modern gene within E. coli, Kacar produced eight identical bacterial strains and allowed “ancient life” to re-evolve. This chimeric bacteria composed of both modern and ancient genes survived, but grew about two times slower than its counterpart composed of only modern genes.  

“The altered organism wasn’t as healthy or fit as its modern-day version, at least initially,” said Gaucher, “and this created a perfect scenario that would allow the altered organism to adapt and become more fit as it accumulated mutations with each passing day.”

The growth rate eventually increased and, after the first 500 generations, the scientists sequenced the genomes of all eight lineages to determine how the bacteria adapted. Not only did the fitness levels increase to nearly modern-day levels, but also some of the altered lineages actually became healthier than their modern counterpart.

When the researchers looked closer, they noticed that every EF-Tu gene did not accumulate mutations. Instead, the modern proteins that interact with the ancient EF-Tu inside of the bacteria had mutated and these mutations were responsible for the rapid adaptation that increased the bacteria’s fitness. In short, the ancient gene has not yet mutated to become more similar to its modern form, but rather, the bacteria found a new evolutionary trajectory to adapt.

These results were presented at the recent NASA International Astrobiology Science Conference. The scientists will continue to study new generations, waiting to see if the protein will follow its historical path or whether it will adopt via a novel path altogether.

“We think that this process will allow us to address several longstanding questions in evolutionary and molecular biology,” said Kacar. “Among them, we want to know if an organism’s history limits its future and if evolution always leads to a single, defined point or whether evolution has multiple solutions to a given problem.”

]]> Jason Maderer 1 1341310242 2012-07-03 10:10:42 1475896349 2016-10-08 03:12:29 0 0 news Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli(E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action.

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2012-07-11T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-11T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-11 00:00:00 Jason Maderer
Media Relations
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966

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138591 138611 138581 138601 138591 image <![CDATA[Paleo-Experimental Evolution 1]]> image/jpeg 1449178698 2015-12-03 21:38:18 1475894769 2016-10-08 02:46:09 138611 image <![CDATA[Paleo-Experimental Evolution 2]]> image/jpeg 1449178698 2015-12-03 21:38:18 1475894769 2016-10-08 02:46:09 138581 image <![CDATA[Paleo-Experimental Evolution 3]]> image/jpeg 1449178698 2015-12-03 21:38:18 1475894769 2016-10-08 02:46:09 138601 image <![CDATA[Paleo-Experimental Evolution 4]]> image/jpeg 1449178698 2015-12-03 21:38:18 1475894769 2016-10-08 02:46:09 <![CDATA[Gaucher Group]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences]]> <![CDATA[School of Biology]]>
<![CDATA[New Technique to Improve Blood Flow in Children Born with one Functional Ventricle Shows Promise]]> 27206 Two in every thousand babies born in the United States start life with just one functional ventricle, or pumping chamber, instead of the normal two. These babies typically undergo a series of two or three open-heart surgeries, culminating in a “total cavopulmonary connection” (TCPC), which is known as the Fontan procedure. During this process, surgeons redirect the circulation to allow oxygen-poor blood to flow from the body directly to the lungs passively, without the benefit of a pumping chamber.

A team of surgeons and university researchers recently reported promising results from a novel surgical connection intended to streamline blood flow between the heart and lungs of such infants.

Typically, the final stage of the Fontan procedure is performed by connecting a cylindrical conduit to the pulmonary arteries, forming a ‘T’ shaped junction. In a pilot study, six patients at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta received a commercially available Y-shaped conduit for their Fontan procedure instead of the cylindrical conduit to create a smoother transition of the blood flow to the pulmonary arteries. Postoperative imaging data from the patients indicated improved blood flow distribution and similar energy efficiency when compared with computer simulations of two alternative connections the patients could have received instead of a Y-graft.

“Based on improved energy characteristics predicted by computer modeling for the Y-shaped conduit, we felt it was time to try it in the clinical realm,” said Kirk Kanter, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, who performed the operations. “The pilot study revealed that surgical implementation of a Y-graft for Fontan procedures is feasible and promising because early outcome was good in these patients.”

The surgical procedure and the postoperative outcomes were detailed in two articles recently published online in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (articles available here and here). The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

Also involved in the study were Ajit Yoganathan, Ph.D., Regents’ professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University; W. James Parks, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and radiology at Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston; Mark A. Fogel, M.D., director of cardiac magnetic resonance at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing Professor Jarek Rossignac, Ph.D., and Coulter Department graduate student Christopher Haggerty.

The TCPC typically creates a four-way intersection. Blood from the upper half of the body enters the intersection from the top and blood from the lower body enters from the bottom. The blood flows collide and mix in the intersection before they are split and redirected 90 degrees toward the left or right pulmonary arteries. The collision of blood from the two veins at the intersection causes inefficient blood flow.

Because the blood flows passively from the body to the lungs without being pumped by the heart, it is assumed that any energy inefficiencies inherent in the construction of the Fontan pathway may translate into diminished life expectancy and quality of life.

Substituting a Y-shaped conduit should avoid the collision of blood in the intersection and enable a smooth and streamlined transition of the blood to the pulmonary arteries, which carry deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs.

For the pilot study, Kanter surgically implanted a commercially available Y-graft, made of a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene, in each patient to direct flow from the lower half of the body to the left and right pulmonary arteries. This was a variation of a conduit design, called the Optiflo, which was patented by Yoganathan and colleagues for its ability to efficiently direct an even distribution of blood flow to the left and right pulmonary arteries.

After surgery, the researchers acquired magnetic resonance or computed tomography images to evaluate the operative connections. The images allowed Yoganathan and Haggerty to evaluate the hemodynamic outcomes of the surgical procedures for five of the six patients and compare them to the simulated outcomes of two alternative connections the patients could have received instead of a Y-graft.

They used the images to model blood flow through the arteries under resting and exercise conditions. These simulations assessed the robustness of each connection geometry because small inefficiencies under resting conditions may be amplified with higher flows.

Results for the patients who received the Y-graft showed balanced distribution of flow to both pulmonary arteries with minimal flow disturbance. The resistance of the vessels to blood flow at the connections varied considerably among patients, but the Y-graft results demonstrated resistance levels similar to the alternative connections in four patients and marked improvement in a fifth patient.

“We found desirable flow distribution characteristics using the Y-graft, but the flow efficiency performance fell short of the outcomes we previously predicted,” said Yoganathan. “The results suggest that the Y-graft performs as well as the standard procedure with a T-graft even when the Y-graft design is theoretically sub-optimal.”

The study allowed the researchers to identify ways of refining the surgical technique that should help them improve the theoretical efficiency of the conduit design. Before conducting future clinical trials, the research team plans to address two features of the Y-graft design that limited hemodynamic efficiency in the current study. They plan to introduce curvature to the Y-graft branches and extend the distance between the Y-graft branches to reduce continued interaction and mixing between the two blood streams.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award numbers HL67622 and HL098252 and by a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award from the American Heart Association (AHA) (10PRE372002). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contacts: Abby Robinson (abby@innovate.gatech.edu; 404-385-3364) or John Toon (jtoon@gatech.edu; 404-894-6986)

Writer: Abby Robinson

]]> Abby Vogel Robinson 1 1341305173 2012-07-03 08:46:13 1475896349 2016-10-08 03:12:29 0 0 news A team of surgeons and university researchers recently reported promising results from a novel surgical connection intended to streamline blood flow between the heart and lungs of infants born with just one functional ventricle, or pumping chamber, instead of the normal two.

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2012-07-03T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-03T00:00:00-04:00 2012-07-03 00:00:00 Abby Robinson
Research News and Publications
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364

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138691 138691 image <![CDATA[Fontan procedure Y-graft]]> image/jpeg 1449178698 2015-12-03 21:38:18 1475894769 2016-10-08 02:46:09
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Offers Master’s Degree in Biomedical Innovation and Development]]> 27462 The Georgia Institute of Technology announces a unique Master of Biomedical Innovation and Development (BioID) Degree. This new program, offered by the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, focuses education and clinical experience to transform unmet biomedical and clinical needs into practical, usable technologies and products for improving patient care. The application process for admissions will open Sept. 1, 2012, for the first class to matriculate in August 2013.

With the complexity of modern medical devices, engineers from multiple disciplines (mechanical, biomedical, electrical, software, and human factors engineering, systems analysis and manufacturing) are often required to translate clinical needs into safe and effective commercial products for healthcare. The BioID master’s program will specifically address gaps in the crucial “bedside-to-bench-to-bedside” progression that identifies and connects unmet clinical needs with advances in science, biomaterials, processes and technology.

This program will prepare students from multiple undergraduate disciplines for careers in a wide range of medical specialties. Courses include: engineering design and development; FDA and ISO requirements; medical markets and clinical specialties; clinical practice/protocols, strategy and planning; finance and economics; product costing; justifications; project planning and management; ethics; socio-economic influences; and sustainability.

Georgia Tech BioID students will interact with healthcare industry experts and guest lecturers from areas such as clinical and surgical practices, engineering design and development, regulatory requirements, business planning, and commercialization. The program incorporates experience in healthcare environments, teamwork projects, and professional communications and will culminate in a master’s level clinical/medical team project.

“With an emphasis on cross-disciplinary coursework and relevant clinical experience, this program fills a distinct market demand for broadly educated professionals at the intersection of biomedical device engineering, healthcare, and business development,” said L. Franklin Bost, professor and executive director of the program. Bost’s background in both the medical device industry and biomedical design instruction brings a distinctive professional education and commercialization perspective to the program.

In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked Georgia Tech’s B.S. and Ph.D. biomedical engineering programs second in the nation. The BioID master’s program will build upon the strengths and global reputation of these existing programs, said Gilda Barabino, associate chair for graduate studies in the Coulter Department. “The BioID degree is a welcome and integral addition to our graduate programs. It is consistent with our collaborative and interdisciplinary culture for basic and translational research and provides specialized training for students seeking the best preparation to convert discoveries to the clinic to benefit patients,” she said.

Ideal candidates for the BioID master’s program include early-career professionals in medical device or biomedicine-related industries; engineers seeking medical device specialization; and high-performing graduates from engineering disciplines. Graduates of this intensive 12-month master’s program will be exceptionally well prepared to pursue and advance their careers in the dynamic field of biomedical device engineering, technology development and commercialization.

 For more information, please contact info@bioid.gatech.edu

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1340363343 2012-06-22 11:09:03 1475896346 2016-10-08 03:12:26 0 0 news The Georgia Institute of Technology announces a unique Master of Biomedical Innovation and Development (BioID) Degree. This new program, offered by the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, focuses education and clinical experience to transform unmet biomedical and clinical needs into practical, usable technologies and products for improving patient care. 

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2012-06-22T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-22T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-22 00:00:00 Shannon Sullivan
shannon.sullivan@bme.gatech.edu 
404-385-2557

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137131 137131 image <![CDATA[Introducing the BioID Master's Program]]> image/jpeg 1449178685 2015-12-03 21:38:05 1475894766 2016-10-08 02:46:06 <![CDATA[Master of Biomedical Innovation and Development]]>
<![CDATA[Beckman Coulter Foundation Endows Three Petit Undergraduate Research Scholarships for Life of Program]]> 27224 The Beckman Coulter Foundation announced a $500,000 donation to the Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program.  This donation will be used to establish the Beckman Coulter Undergraduate Research Scholars Endowment Fund that will support three “Beckman Coulter Foundation Petit Scholars” for the life of the program.

The Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program is a competitive scholarship program that serves to develop the next generation of leading bioengineering and bioscience researchers by providing a comprehensive research experience for a full year.  Open to all Atlanta area university students, the program allows undergraduates to conduct independent research in the state-of-the-art laboratories of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (Petit Institute).  Under the mentorship of a graduate student and faculty member, scholars develop their own independent research project.

"This program provides top undergraduate students with the opportunity to experience firsthand the thrill of research discovery and innovation and hopefully encourages them to pursue an advanced degree in medicine or biotechnology," said Bob Guldberg, Executive Director of the Petit Institute.  “We are deeply grateful to the Beckman Coulter Foundation and Russ Bell for this significant gift enabling us to expand the Petit Scholars program."

Petit Scholars receive training that provides a solid foundation for them to pursue advanced degrees in science or engineering with 62% entering a graduate degree program and 15% entering medical school indicating that close to 80% of Petit Scholars go on to obtain advanced degrees.  Many are already distinguishing themselves in research, medicine and industry.

"Every year the number of outstanding undergraduates who apply to the program grows," added Todd McDevitt, program faculty advisor.  "Our increasing challenge is to secure enough funding for all of the well-qualified students to work in the Petit Institute investigator’s laboratories."

The Beckman Coulter Foundation felt a real connection between its mission to support healthcare-related science education and the Petit Institute’s innovative undergraduate research scholars program because of the impact it has made thus far.  Since its inception in 2000, the program has trained over 186 talented students and created opportunities for them to conduct research in state-of-the-art research facilities.

“This grant not only honors Beckman Coulter founders, Arnold Beckman and Wallace Coulter, two of the most important scientific innovators of the 20th century,” said Russ Bell, President of the Beckman Coulter Foundation, “but also honors their tradition of ‘paying forward.’” 

Each year, Georgia Tech hosts a fundraising dinner for the Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program in order to support the next class.  This year’s dinner will be held June 23, 2012 at the Piedmont Driving Club and world-class athlete, Scott Rigsby, will be the featured speaker.  Over 100 Atlanta-area community members and business leaders will attend. The Beckman Coulter Foundation will be recognized at the dinner as a platinum sponsor for their donation. 

“I was fortunate and blessed to have been asked as a Georgia Tech undergraduate in 1968 to do research in Nancy Walls’ lab, so I am especially happy that the Beckman Coulter Foundation has recognized the excellence of the Petit Undergraduate Research program,” Bell said.  “We know that our support will help produce the next generation of scientific leaders that would  make Beckman’s Coulter’s Founders proud.”

The Beckman Coulter Foundation is a separate, private foundation established in 2007 as an important part of Beckman Coulter's charitable giving efforts.  The Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of Beckman Coulter, by funding programs which are focused around science, science education and healthcare-related research that improves patient health and the quality of life.

Since its establishment, the Beckman Coulter Foundation has provided more than 5 million dollars of funding toward grants in the areas of: Clinical Fellowships, Clinical Laboratory Science Programs, President’s Scholars Programs, Science Enrichment and numerous other educational and research-based programs.

 

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1340284773 2012-06-21 13:19:33 1475896346 2016-10-08 03:12:26 0 0 news
The Beckman Coulter Foundation announced a $500,000 donation to the Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program.  This donation will be used to establish the Beckman Coulter Undergraduate Research Scholars Endowment Fund that will support three “Beckman Coulter Foundation Petit Scholars” for the life of the program.

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2012-06-21T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-21T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-21 00:00:00 Megan Graziano McDevitt

Communications & Marketing Director
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

 

Marci Raudez
Foundation & Community Relations
Beckman Coulter Foundation

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128681 128681 image <![CDATA[Petit Scholars Class of 2012]]> image/jpeg 1449178622 2015-12-03 21:37:02 1475894754 2016-10-08 02:45:54
<![CDATA[Atlanta Pharma Community Collaborates on Drug Development Education]]> 27303 Doctoral students from four Atlanta universities worked together recently to learn how to develop new pharmaceutical products during a two-week interdisciplinary short course at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The course’s final presentations were held June 11.

Two dozen students from Georgia Tech, Mercer University, Georgia State University and Emory University heard lectures from Atlanta-based medical professionals, researchers, and pharmaceutical company leaders – and worked in teams to develop plans for how a drug company might convert a promising molecule into a real product. To demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of the drug development process, each team included pharmacists, bio-scientists, chemists and engineers.

“Each team was given information from the scientific literature on a drug in early stage development by a pharmaceutical company, and was asked to put together and justify a detailed plan for bringing that molecule forward into a drug product useful in clinical medicine,” said Mark Prausnitz, the course’s leader and a Regents’ professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.

Speakers from the Atlanta pharmaceutical community talked to the students on such topics as drug discovery and design, drug manufacturing, formulation, pre-clinical studies, design of clinical trials, marketing, project teamwork and R&D reports. In addition to Prausnitz, other instructors included:

Students were pleased with the opportunity to see the entire drug development process and to work closely with peers from other universities. “Working in an interdisciplinary team allowed us to connect the dots between all of the medical, scientific and business aspects of bringing a drug to the market,” said Meera Gujjar, a graduate student in pharmaceutical sciences at Mercer University. 

Chris Quinto, a Ph.D. student from Georgia Tech, found students from other backgrounds helpful in sharing their expertise in the complex drug development process.

“The Mercer students in my group were a great resource in helping explain and make sense of the data and terminology in the papers that we read,” Quinto said. “What I found most interesting in this class was how the drug development research teams consist of many different specialties, each of which is vital to the final outcome of the drug development process.”

The course is expected to be offered once every two years. “This shows how Atlanta universities are working together and with local pharmaceutical companies to build a stronger pharmaceutical research and education community here,” Prausnitz added.

 

 

]]> John Toon 1 1339852622 2012-06-16 13:17:02 1475896342 2016-10-08 03:12:22 0 0 news Doctoral students from four Atlanta universities worked together recently to learn how to develop new pharmaceutical products during a two-week interdisciplinary short course at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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2012-06-16T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-16T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-16 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News & Publications Office

(404) 894-6986

jtoon@gatech.edu

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135781 135781 image <![CDATA[Drug Development Short Course]]> image/jpeg 1449178685 2015-12-03 21:38:05 1475894766 2016-10-08 02:46:06
<![CDATA[Biomedical engineer’s work on platelets wins NSF CAREER Award]]> 27462 Biomedical engineer and pediatric hematologist/oncologist Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, has earned a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. The four-year, $450,000 award will support Lam’s research on the biomechanical properties of platelets, the cells responsible for blood clot formation.

Lam is an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and the Division of Hematology/Oncology within Emory’s Department of Pediatrics. He sees patients at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Anticoagulants, or blood thinners, are prescribed to millions to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. Lam’s research focuses on platelet biophysics and how platelets contract at the single cell level. This could lead to new categories of platelet diagnostics and help scientists identify new types of blood thinning drugs, which would modify how stiff platelets are or how they contract. A better understanding of platelets’ properties could also inform treatment of other diseases such as inflammatory disorders, sickle cell anemia, and infections.

Lam has developed a technology allowing measurement of the forces generated by individual platelets as they contract. In a paper published in the journal Nature Materials, he and colleagues isolated single platelets, which were made fluorescent with dye, in a customized atomic force microscope. With the CAREER award, he plans to refine the technology to permit the examination of thousands of platelets at once on a microchip using technology adapted from the computer chip industry.

“What’s exciting about this area of research is that it could open up a whole new category of potential diagnostics and therapies,” Lam says. “A blood clot is ultimately a physical entity, in that the platelets have to stitch a wound together and stop blood from flowing. We were able to show that platelets contract, acting somewhat like muscle cells, when they come into contact with a developing clot, and that they are able to ‘sense’ the local physical properties of the clot to adjust their force of contraction functioning like a finely tuned ‘nanomachine’.”

NSF CAREER awards go to investigators in the early stages of their careers as they work on transformative ideas in their fields while also striving to educate the next generation of scientists. As part of his project and as a pediatrician who cares for children with cancer and chronic blood diseases, Lam plans to develop a K-12 science outreach program for hospitalized children, in which the children’s own diseases are used as springboards for learning about science. The program will enable undergraduate, graduate and medical students to develop age-appropriate biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics modules centered around chronic diseases for which children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta are hospitalized.

“Children who have chronic illnesses often miss large amounts of school, and they have concrete educational disadvantages as a result,” Lam says. “We want to use their natural interest in their own bodies as a way to introduce basic scientific and mathematic concepts that will hopefully inspire them to learn more and to actually use their diseases to their advantage.”

Written by Quinn Eastman, Emory Health Sciences Communications 

 

 

]]> Liz Klipp 1 1339760045 2012-06-15 11:34:05 1475896342 2016-10-08 03:12:22 0 0 news Biomedical engineer and pediatric hematologist/oncologist Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, has earned a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. The four-year, $450,000 award will support Lam’s research on the biomechanical properties of platelets, the cells responsible for blood clot formation.

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2012-06-15T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-15T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-15 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
laura.diamond@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-660-2926

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135711 135711 image <![CDATA[Dr. Wilbur Lam]]> image/jpeg 1449178685 2015-12-03 21:38:05 1475894766 2016-10-08 02:46:06 <![CDATA[Emory news release]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Startup Secures Department of Defense Funding for Development of Cell Delivery Technology]]> 27206 Cell-based therapies have yet to reach their full potential in repairing damaged tissue because of the hostile environment the cells face once injected into the body. A patient’s inflammatory response normally causes the majority of these therapeutic cells to die or migrate away from the area in need of repair.

To address this problem, a startup company based on technology developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology is creating an efficient, safe and repeatable delivery method that protects cells from death and migration from the treatment site. Using microbead technology developed in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, SpherIngenics is producing protective capsules for the delivery of cell-based therapies.

Supported by a broad range of Georgia Tech initiatives, the company recently received a two-year $730,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to continue development of the technology.

“When damaged tissue is being repaired by a cell-based therapy, our microbead technology ensures that cells travel to and remain in the targeted area while maintaining continued viability,” said SpherIngenics CEO Franklin Bost, who is also a professor in the Coulter Department. “This technology has the potential to reduce the cost of treatment by eliminating the need for multiple therapeutic procedures.”

Bost and Coulter Department Professors Barbara Boyan and Zvi Schwartz founded the company in 2007. They worked with the Georgia Tech Research Corporation to license five patents from Boyan’s lab for technology originally developed in the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for the Engineering of Living Tissue (GTEC), which was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Then they secured $450,000, which included a Phase I SBIR grant from the U.S. Department of Defense and grants from the Georgia Research Alliance and the Coulter Foundation.

During Phase I of the SBIR grant, the researchers confirmed that as many as 250 human adult stem cells could remain viable in culture if they were encapsulated in a 200-micron-diameter bead made of natural algae materials and that they could release factors that enhance tissue regeneration.

“For the Phase II SBIR grant, we’re going to examine whether delivering microbeads full of stem cells can enhance cartilage repair and regeneration of craniofacial defects in an animal model,” said Boyan, who is the company’s chief scientific officer. Boyan is also the associate dean for research and innovation in the Georgia Tech College of Engineering, the Price Gilbert, Jr. Chair in Tissue Engineering at Georgia Tech, and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.

The company will perform this research in its laboratory space located in the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) biosciences incubator.

The company’s ultimate goal is to commercialize the microbead technology for use in hospitals and by cell therapy companies. To help reach this goal, a group of students wrote a business plan for SpherIngenics last year through the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER) program.

The team -- which included Coulter Department doctoral student Christopher Lee, Georgia Tech MBA students Chris Palazzola and Eric Diersen, and Emory University law students Bryan Stewart and Natalie Dana -- won third place in the 2011 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition. The competition, while largely an education experience, provided students an opportunity to develop their venture ideas and present them to a panel of highly experienced judges in the venture capital, technology transfer and legal fields.

“The TI:GER team’s business plan helped us learn about where the market for our technology is right now and where it is going in the future, which is extremely valuable knowledge as we work toward determining the most promising pathway to market,” said Bost.

Additional members of the company include Anthony Nicolini, the principal investigator on the Phase II SBIR grant, and Joseph Williams, clinical director of craniofacial plastic surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Emory University.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under award numbers W81XWH-07-1-0219 and W81XWH-11-C-0071. The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Government.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contacts: Abby Robinson (abby@innovate.gatech.edu; 404-385-3364) or John Toon (jtoon@gatech.edu; 404-894-6986)

Writer: Abby Robinson

]]> Abby Vogel Robinson 1 1339575773 2012-06-13 08:22:53 1475896342 2016-10-08 03:12:22 0 0 news Georgia Tech startup SpherIngenics is using microbead technology to produce protective capsules for the delivery of cell-based therapies. The technology provides an efficient, safe and repeatable delivery method that protects cells from death and migration from the treatment site. 

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2012-06-13T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-13T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-13 00:00:00 Abby Robinson
Research News and Publications
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364

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134951 134951 image <![CDATA[SpherIngenics microbeads]]> image/jpeg 1449178671 2015-12-03 21:37:51 1475894763 2016-10-08 02:46:03
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Establishes a New Research Center Focused on Cancer]]> 27195 Georgia Tech, which has had a long-standing history in cancer research, announces a new Integrated Cancer Research Center which will bring together 48 biologists, bioengineers, chemists and physicists from seven different schools and departments, to take new innovative approaches to basic cancer research. John McDonald, PhD, professor of biology in the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB), will head the new center.

“The mission of the Integrated Cancer Research Center is to facilitate integration of the diversity of technological, computational, scientific and medical expertise at Georgia Tech and partner institutions in a coordinated effort to develop improved cancer diagnostics and therapeutics,” McDonald explained.



For years, the study of cancer has been concentrated at major medical research institutions and cancer research has been traditionally viewed as falling exclusively within the bailiwick of the biological sciences. This is now changing for the better, according to McDonald.


“We are at a truly exciting crossroads in the history of cancer research where molecular biology, the computational sciences, engineering and nanotechnology are joining together in a unified effort to develop more effective cancer diagnostics and therapeutics,” added McDonald.

New high-throughput methods to molecularly characterize cancer cells have, in recent years, lead to tremendous strides in the development of novel diagnostics and the identification of new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention.



On the computational side, recently developed algorithms customized for the analysis of genomic, proteomic and other high volume datasets are providing a level of insight into cellular complexities never before imagined. The number of new technologies and devices arising from the fields of biomedical engineering and nanotechnology that have potential application to the area of cancer biology has tremendous promise.

McDonald’s enthusiasm for the new cancer center is shared by Robert Guldberg, PhD, executive director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.

“Georgia Tech, particularly researchers throughout the IBB community, have been leaders in the development of collaborative approaches to both cancer diagnostics and therapeutics,” Guldberg explained. “This new center will bring together researchers from a wide-variety of backgrounds to tackle complex research problems in new and exciting ways.” 


Visit the new Integrated Cancer Research Center website.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1339498715 2012-06-12 10:58:35 1475896342 2016-10-08 03:12:22 0 0 news Seven different schools and departments join together to form the new Integrated Cancer Research Center.

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2012-06-12T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-12T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-12 00:00:00 Megan McDevitt, CMP
Communications and Marketing Director
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

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134871 134871 image <![CDATA[The human cell, like all robust systems, is highly integrated]]> image/png 1449178671 2015-12-03 21:37:51 1475894763 2016-10-08 02:46:03 <![CDATA[ICRC website]]> <![CDATA[John McDonald]]>
<![CDATA[Nerem International Travel Award Winner Announced]]> 27224 Lucas Timmins, PhD, has been awarded the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience’s (Petit Institute) Robert M. Nerem International Travel Award. Timmins, a post-doctoral fellow in Don Giddens’, PhD, laboratory, will receive $3,000 to travel to the Imperial College of London to learn a unique model of atherosclerosis. 

“From a professional standpoint I am looking forward to expanding my research training and skill-set, which will provide a solid foundation as I begin my independent career in academic research,” said Timmins.

Timmins’ travel to London will enable him to develop computational methods and techniques required to construct computational fluid dynamic models.  He will use microtomography and magnetic resonance imaging data to understand biomechanical stimuli in the development of atherosclerosis.

"Luke will be working with a unique, hemodynamically altered model of atherosclerosis that allows for a multi-scale approach in understanding this disease.  Luke's knowledge of computational fluid dynamics will be a significant benefit to Rob Krams' research group,” Giddens explained. "In addition, Luke's visit will strengthen the long-standing professional relationship between my research group and Imperial College London, and serve as a greater benefit in further developing the linkages between bioengineering research in the Petit Institute and Imperial."

The Nerem International Travel Award was endowed by Nerem’s colleagues and friends in appreciation of the impact that Nerem has had on many. As the Petit Institute’s founding director, Nerem passionately served the community for 14 years and successfully led the institute to national and international prominence in the fields of bioengineering and bioscience.

“Everyone who knows Nerem, knows he loves to travel. His travels have brought him to all corners of the world and it is through his travel that he has served as a great champion of Georgia Tech, the Petit Institute and biocommunity as a whole,” stated Robert Guldberg, executive director of the Petit Institute.  

Beginning in 2005, this award has allowed trainees an opportunity to travel to a wide variety of international research universities and institutes, including the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan; the National University of Singapore; University of Twente,The Netherlands; Queensland University of Technology, Australia; and Consorzio Interuniversitario Lombardo per L’Elaborazione Automatica, Milan, Italy.

“I am so proud of this annual award as it affords the opportunity for a trainee to broaden their research experiences by establishing an international collaboration and travel to another university or institution,” Nerem stated. “Opening one's eyes to new techniques and research facilities will have a profound impact on Timmins’ research and training.”

“It is truly is an honor to receive an award that bears Dr. Nerem's name given his distinguished dedication to bioengineering research and commitment to mentorship,” said Timmins. “I also want to sincerely thank the friends of Dr. Nerem’s and the Petit Institute for providing such an outstanding opportunity to its graduate students and post-docs.”

Timmins has co-authored nine well-cited peer reviewed publications, serving as lead author on five. He is co-author on 20 conference abstract proceedings and has given numerous presentations at engineering and clinical professional conferences. Timmins currently serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for over 12 journals and is a member of the Fluid Mechanics and Solid Mechanics Technical Committees of the ASME Bioengineering Division. In addition, Timmins also received an inaugural Whitaker International Fellowship from the Whitaker Program and was awarded an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship.

]]> Megan McDevitt 1 1339321622 2012-06-10 09:47:02 1475896342 2016-10-08 03:12:22 0 0 news Lucas Timmins, PhD, has been awarded the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience’s (Petit Institute) Robert M. Nerem International Travel Award. Timmins, a post-doctoral fellow in Don Giddens’, PhD, laboratory, will receive $3,000 to travel to the Imperial College of London to learn a unique model of atherosclerosis. 

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2012-06-10T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-10T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-10 00:00:00 Megan Graziano McDevitt 
Marketing Communications Director

Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience

]]>
134481 134481 image <![CDATA[Lucas Timmins]]> image/jpeg 1449178671 2015-12-03 21:37:51 1475894763 2016-10-08 02:46:03 <![CDATA[About Robert M. Nerem]]> <![CDATA[Nerem Interational Travel Award Information]]> <![CDATA[Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience]]>
<![CDATA[Two Georgia Tech Leaders Inducted as Fellows of Biomaterials Science and Engineering]]> 27195 Barbara Boyan, PhD, Price Gilbert, Jr. Chair in Tissue Engineering in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering and Andrés García, PhD, Woodruff Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, were inducted as Fellows of Biomaterials Science and Engineering at the World Biomaterials Congress this week in Chengdu China.

Fellows are appointed based on significant contributions to the biomaterials field as well as national and international recognition of accomplishments documented by a continuous productivity in biomaterials research and are considered role models in the biomaterials science and engineering field.

The Fellows program began in1992 after the constituent biomaterials societies of the World Biomaterials Congress recognized the need for public recognition of their members who have gained a status of excellent professional standing and earned high achievements in the biomaterials field. For this reason, the honorary status of "Fellow, Biomaterials Science and Engineering" (FBSE) was established.

Boyan and García have had significant accomplishments throughout their careers which include receiving awards from the Society for Biomaterials, authoring papers in leading biomaterials journals and they both have several biomaterials-related patents and invention disclosures.

Boyan’s research laboratory focuses on bone and cartilage cell biology and tissue engineering of musculoskeletal tissues. Researchers are investigating signaling pathways involved in implant osseointegration, or the connection between the bone and a material. Specifically, they are exploring how surface properties influence biological processes and pathways such as cell proliferation, differentiation, angiogenesis and apoptosis to better understand healing and regeneration.

Boyan was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering and other 2012 awards include and the Orthopaedic Research Society Women's Leadership Forum Award and she was named a fellow of the International Team for Implantology.

García’s research activities center on analyses of cell adhesive forces and mechanotransduction, cell-biomaterial interactions and the engineering of biomaterials to control cell delivery and engraftment and tissue repair, including bone repair, therapeutic vascularization, pancreatic islet delivery for the treatment of diabetes, and inflammation and infection. These findings provide fundamental insights into mechanisms regulating cell-material interactions and constitute novel approaches to the engineering of bioactive materials for enhanced tissue repair.

García was awarded the Clemson Award for Basic Research from the Society of Biomaterials and will be presented with that award in New Orleans in October 2012. García serves on the editorial board of leading biomaterial and regenerative medicine journals as well as National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation review panels.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1338984999 2012-06-06 12:16:39 1475896342 2016-10-08 03:12:22 0 0 news Two Georgia Tech Leaders Inducted as Fellows of Biomaterials Science and Engineering - Barbara Boyan and Andrés García recognized for contributions to biomaterials field.

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2012-06-06T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-06T00:00:00-04:00 2012-06-06 00:00:00 Megan McDevitt

Marketing Communications Director
Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioegineering & Bioscience

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48186 109231 48186 image <![CDATA[Andres Garcia and vascularization hydrogels]]> image/jpeg 1449175379 2015-12-03 20:42:59 1475894455 2016-10-08 02:40:55 109231 image <![CDATA[Dr. Barbara Boyan]]> image/jpeg 1449178201 2015-12-03 21:30:01 1475894728 2016-10-08 02:45:28 <![CDATA[Garcia lab]]> <![CDATA[Boyan & Schwartz Laboratory]]>