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Nov

Nov
17
2017

Undergraduate Study Abroad Student Profile: Getting SERIUS in Singapore

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 17, 2017) - Jake Meadows, Hannah Liu, and Mazin Rahman are bioengineering juniors who spent eight weeks in Singapore with the Summer Engineering Research Internship for U.S. Students (SERIUS) program. SERIUS selects students from US partner institutions to participate in internships at the National University of Singapore (NUS) engineering labs. Jake and Hannah engaged in research with Dr. Hongliang Ren in the Medical Mechatronics Laboratory. The pair were given flexibility with their projects, which allowed them to explore this area of bioengineering. Jake worked on a surgical robotics project titled “Preliminary Development Of A Low-Cost Flexible Endoscope For Robotic Minimally Invasive Nasopharyngoscopy.” Hannah worked on a different project in Dr. Ren’s lab, “Four-Point Fortune-Teller-Inspired Origami Grasper for Increased Dexterity and Less Tissue Damage in Minimally Invasive Surgery.” Mazin’s research was in the Biofluid Mechanics Lab with with Dr. Hwa Liang Leo . He worked with one of Dr. Leo’s graduate students on “Hemodynamic Investigation of Tricuspid Valvular Therapies in Treating Functional Tricuspid Regurgitation.” Jake, Hannah, and Mazin discuss their experience in Singapore: What was your favorite thing about living in Singapore? The front entrance of the "Ordination Hall" at Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Jake: “Definitely the food and the people.  Singapore is an incredibly diverse country, consisting of large Chinese, Malay, and Indian populations.  Everyone we met was friendly and excited to share the culture with us -- especially in the form of food.”  Hannah: “Easy access to anything you wanted to do. The MRT (public transportation) was super easy to navigate, and we could go virtually anywhere in Singapore like Sentosa beach, Pulau Ubin (biking island), Little India, Chinatown, etc. Changi Airport is also a great hub, and you can catch an hour-two hour flight to other countries nearby.”Mazin: “The ease in which someone from any culture/religion can stay in Singapore. As Jake said, Singapore is a very diverse country with a variety of cultures and religions. As a Muslim, living in Singapore was honestly easier to live in than in the U.S. due to the large population of Singaporean Muslims, thus making it easier on religious requirements especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Also, the food!”How did you enjoy your research project? Hannah at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in Bangkok, Thailand. Jake: “My day-to-day was mostly rapid prototyping, testing out early-stage design via Solidworks simulations and just trying things out in the workshop. My project was extraordinarily independent, and I could take it any direction I wanted. This was daunting, but also extremely liberating. This independence gave me an opportunity to really explore the research topic and understand this area of bioengineering.”Hannah: “It was definitely outside of my comfort zone since I’m concentrating in cellular engineering while this project was more “medical product-focused.” Jake and I sat across from each other every day and helped each other along whenever we were stuck and needed help prototyping our designs. From talking to other students in the same program and from my own experience, the research project was very “you-driven.” Basically, the lab provided us with resources, and we could do anything we saw fit in our project - lots of flexibility and hands-on experience.”Mazin: “This was in fact my first research experience, and I enjoyed it tremendously. As opposed to most other students, who were given their own research project, the project I worked on was an ongoing project of a PhD student. This was very helpful in that she would help us and give us advice and direction, while still allowing enough freedom for us to be able to design our own solutions and solve our own problems.”Do you have any advice for those looking to study in Singapore? The group on the Mekong Delta outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Jake: “Definitely apply! There are also semester-long programs available at two different universities in Singapore, NUS and NTU, that would be perfect for someone looking to study in Singapore and experience South East Asian culture.”Hannah: “Jake, Mazin and I all agree that this is the best experience of our adult lives. It definitely changed me as a person and also affirmed my interest in cellular engineering as opposed to medical product, signals, etc. APPLY APPLY APPLY!! The application really is not difficult at all, and you won’t regret it!”Mazin: “Definitely apply to this program! If you are interested in doing any study abroad, this is a great opportunity. The application is not a lot of work and since the application pool is limited to only a few engineering schools, I believe it is easier to get into than other study abroad programs that are open to all students. Not only was the research awesome, but we had a lot of fun exploring other parts of Southeast Asia. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should not pass up.”For more information about the SERIUS program, visit their website: https://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/exchange-students/serius/. To apply through Pitt, please visit: http://www.abroad.pitt.edu/engresearchsingapore.  The application deadline is January 28, 2018. Photos captions: (1) The group in Malacca, Malaysia. (2) The front entrance of the "Ordination Hall" at Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand. (3)  (4) The group on the Mekong Delta outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Nov
15
2017

Bioengineering Department Participates in BMES Annual Meeting

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 15, 2017)…This past October, Pitt Bioengineering students joined their peers at the 2017 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting.More than 35 undergraduate and eight graduate students participated at this year’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona. They presented in both the platform sessions and poster sessions.The students were joined by Pitt Bioengineering faculty members, including Arash Mahboobin, assistant professor, who said, “The event was well attended, and I was very encouraged by the engineering education topics presented at the conference. Our undergraduate students represented the department very well. I am extremely proud of their achievements and will certainly watch their careers develop with great interest and high expectation.”Part of the event included a two-part presentation from the 2017 Young Innovators of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE). CMBE publishes a special issue, which highlights assistant professors from across the country who are doing innovative bioengineering research. Shilpa Sant, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, with a secondary appointment in bioengineering, was one of eleven awardees. She presented her group’s work titled “Shape-specific Nanoceria Mitigate Oxidative Stress-induced Calcification in Primary Human Valvular Interstitial Cell Culture.” Tyler Bray and Christine Heisler are bioengineering juniors who presented at the meeting. “The BMES Conference in Phoenix was a fantastic place to learn and network. It’s a great experience to be around so many talented and accomplished individuals while seeing the future of the bioengineering field unfold,” Mr. Bray said. It was very rewarding opportunity to present my research and have meaningful conversations with people who have similar interests. The trip to Phoenix also allowed me to enjoy the city and grow closer to my peers!”Ms. Heisler thought it was a rewarding experience and used this opportunity to explore post-graduate options. She said, “[I attended] incredibly interesting lectures that have directed my post-graduate plans toward Public Health.” During the conference, she was able to network with various graduate schools that catered to her interests.The 2018 BMES Annual Meeting will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on October 17-18.To find out more about Pitt’s BMES chapters, visit:Undergraduate: http://www.pittbmes.com/Graduate: http://www.pittbmes.org/

Nov
10
2017

Undergraduate Study Abroad Student Profile: Kaylene Stocking in Japan

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 10, 2017) - Kaylene Stocking, a junior bioengineering student, spent 12 weeks in Japan this past summer, participating in the Nakatani RIES program. Through the support of the Nakatani Foundation, the program is funded for all students. The experience begins in Tokyo where participants spend three weeks taking courses in Japanese language and culture, as well as a science seminar. The remaining nine weeks are in research at a host university - for Kaylene, this was research at  Kyoto University on a project titled: “Maturation of hiPSC-derived Hepatocyte-like Cells.” Kaylene answered a few questions about her experience in the program. What was your favorite thing about living in Japan? I loved that everything I wanted to see or do was easily accessible via public transportation. Whether it was exploring a nearby city or traveling over a hundred kilometers to a rural Buddhist mountain, I could go anywhere by train. I got to see an incredible variety of things in just three months! Daily living is also very convenient in Japan because of cheap, delicious restaurants and very walkable cities.” How did you enjoy your research project? “My project was centered around stem cells, an area I’ve never studied before, so the first couple weeks were slow as I learned all the techniques I needed and did background reading. Once I was oriented, I really enjoyed getting to design and carry out my own project and feeling ownership of my results. My only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to stay longer and do more follow-up experiments! Do you have any advice for those looking to study in Japan? “The best advice I can give is learning how to read katakana, a Japanese phonetic alphabet that is used to label anything foreign, especially food. This will be a life-saver while trying to go grocery shopping or even when ordering in a restaurant.” For more information about the Nakatani RIES program, visit their website: http://nakatani-ries.rice.edu/. Applications are due January 16, 2018.

Nov
9
2017

Dr. David Vorp to Present at International Meeting Celebrating 50 Years of Heart Transplantation

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 9, 2017) - The first human heart transplant in the world was performed at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa on December 3, 1967. Professor Christiaan Barnard, Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, after training over a decade in heart surgery, accepted the risk of transplantation and successfully performed the operation. Many believe that Barnard’s courage to perform the human heart transplant, while others in the field hesitated, was his greatest contribution. To commemorate this cross-disciplinary feat of “courage and innovation,” Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town are hosting a 3-day program celebrating the “50th Anniversary of the 1st Heart Transplant.” The program is supported by scientific host societies across the world. David A. Vorp, Associate Dean for Research and John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, was invited to present on December 4, 2017. His session, hosted by the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology (ISACB), is themed “ISACB 30 YEARS OLD: The era of Repair, Replacement, and Regeneration.” Dr. Vorp and John Curci, Associate Professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will also chair a morning session, “Aneurysmal degeneration: The interaction of Nature and Nurture,” and Dr. Vorp will also present a lecture on “Aortic Aneurysm Biomechanics.” For more information about the program: https://1sthtx.com/index.php.

Nov
5
2017

Pitt Innovation Challenge awards $10K to Bioengineering's George Stetten for FingerSight / PalmSight wearable technology

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 5, 2017) - FingerSight is a project that was originally developed in 1999 by George Stetten, professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, to help blind and visually impaired individuals better perceive their surroundings. Dr. Stetten explains, “My father went blind, and I always had an interest in developing technologies to help those with this disability.” Dr. Stetten and Roberta Klatzky, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, patented the concept of the device, with a camera mounted on the fingertip and a vibrating mechanism on the same finger. This allows the user to quickly scan the environment while computer vision algorithms to find objects identified by verbal command.  Detection of the object is communicated through the vibrator. The original version of the device had a laser that scanned the edges of objects. This project was featured on the cover of IEEE Haptics Symposium in 2006. Dr. Stetten’s group later improved upon that model by researching how the camera can sense the angles of the object edges. This work was published in the Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine in 2014.  This device uses computer vision, a powerful and quickly evolving discipline in which information about the environment is received by video camera and interpreted by computer.Some practical applications of the device include reading street signs, locating exits, finding particular people, or avoiding street hazards.The device also lets the user control objects on a screen or intelligent targets through gestures. Dr. Stetten’s newest project is PalmSight, which is a device that helps the user reach for an object and grasp it. It uses stereo cameras mounted to the user’s palm to determine depth and an array of vibrators to guide hand motion. The user can ask for a specific object (e.g. a coffee cup), and the device will help guide the user’s hand to that object.Dr. Stetten will use the PInCh funds to further develop this technology towards commercialization.

Nov
2
2017

Pitt Bioengineering group wins $30K from Pitt Innovation Challenge to develop sensor wearable for prostheses

Bioengineering

Figure: Rendering of uHaptic for upper (left) and lower (right) limb. Labeled components: A) processor module, B) Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs), C) force sensors attached to band, D) force sensors attached to fingertip sleeve. PITTSBURGH (November 2, 2017) - The ability to sense or feel objects is crucial for interacting with them, and this is a challenge for those who wear prostheses. No modern commercial prosthetic device provides tactile feedback. However, a proposed sensory prosthetic developed by a University of Pittsburgh startup intrigued enough judges to win a prize in the 2017 Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh). The uHaptic team, led by Ameya Nanivadekar, a PhD student in the Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering, and Dr. Lee Fisher, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is developing a wearable product for upper and lower limb prostheses users that will help restore that lifelike feel. The team will use the PInCh funds to develop and test a complete functional prototype of the uHaptic package prior to deployment for human subject testing. Nanivadekar explains, “Without sensory feedback, detecting contact with an object, and regulating the force needed to grip but not break it is a challenge. Restoring the sense of touch is key to making prostheses more functional.” Though there have been many advances with prosthetic limbs in recent years, sending sensory information back to the wearer is still a problem that needs to be solved. Nanivadekar said, “It’s clear that development of prostheses and feedback delivery mechanisms have progressed independent of each other. These two silos in technology need to be linked to produce dexterous movements that feel natural.” uHaptic is designed to be functional for upper and lower limb prostheses. Sensors are attached to either the fingertips and palm to detect object contact and grip force or the heel, foot, and knee to monitor posture and gait. uHaptic is compatible with any sensory feedback device, and the uHaptic processor communicates the collected sensor information wirelessly to these devices. The team hopes to partner with Neurometrix, Inc., a commercial stage, bioelectrical and digital medicine spinoff from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and work with their commercially available, non-invasive stimulator for testing and rapid deployment of uHaptic. The uHaptic team includes: Ameya Nanivadekar (PhD student, Dept. of Bioengineering), Santosh Chandrasekaran, PhD, (Postdoctoral Associate, Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), Max Novelli (Software Engineer, Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), David Weir (Staff Engineer, Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), and Lee Fisher, PhD (Assistant Professor, Dept of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation).

Nov
1
2017

Understanding Addiction in the Adolescent Mind

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 1, 2017) … Several studies have provided strong evidence that adolescents—people in their teens to early twenties—have a higher vulnerability than adults to addictive substances like cocaine. To understand the origin of the age effect requires a sensor to effectively measuring how cocaine interacts with different parts of the brain over time.Bioengineers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a new method of using synthetic DNA called “aptamers” to view the effect of cocaine on the brain in real-time with a much higher resolution than other techniques. The Royal Society of Chemistry published their results in its Journal of Materials Chemistry B earlier this year (DOI: 10.1039/C7TB00095B).“Aptamer-based cocaine sensors have been previously developed for detecting cocaine in whole blood samples, outside of the body. We are the first to develop a sensor for detecting cocaine in the brain tissue of live animals,” says Xinyan Tracy Cui, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.Dr. Cui is principal investigator for a two-year, $421,185 new study titled “Dual Polymer Coatings for High Fidelity and Stable In Vivo Cocaine Sensing From MEAs.” She and her team will be using the aptamer-based sensors to observe the effects of cocaine use on both adult and adolescent rats and record the differences.“It remains unknown whether the ‘age effect’ is the result of differences in neuron sensitivity to cocaine or a consequence of how cocaine concentrates in different areas of the brain,” explains I. Mitch Taylor, postdoctoral researcher in the Cui Lab. “By measuring cocaine concentration and following the pharmacokinetics of the drug over repeated use in both adult and adolescent rats, we hope to answer this question.”In addition to observing the effect of cocaine on the brain, the researchers will be testing a polymer coating that protects the sensors from harmful exposure once they are implanted inside the rats. Past studies have shown that the brain’s biological environment can interfere with the sensors’ ability to relay information to the researchers.“The sensors worked great for a couple of hours in the brain tissue, and then performance degraded rapidly due to sensor degradation and biofouling,” says Dr. Cui. “The newly funded project will use advanced polymers to stabilize the sensor and minimize the host tissue reactions, with the goal of achieving long term in vivo sensing over the period of days.”Dr. Cui aims to directly measure real-time cocaine concentration in different locations of the brain with micrometer resolution for at least 72 hours. Conventional methods of measuring cocaine in the brain tissue are only able to measure concentration levels every five-10 minutes and over a large volume.The funding comes from a R21 Exploratory/Development grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse. The researchers will focus on studying cocaine usage during this grant period with potential to broaden their research efforts down the road.“Our sensor technology platform is well suited to be developed for detecting other substances in the future,” assures Dr. Cui.About Dr. CuiDr. Cui is William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Neural Tissue/Electrode Interface and Neural Tissue Engineering Lab. She is also the Neural Engineering Track Coordinator for the Department of Bioengineering Graduate Committee and serves on the Leadership Team of the Center for Medical Innovation. Prior to joining Pitt, she was a Research Scientist at Unilever Research US in Edgewater, New Jersey. Dr. Cui earned her BE in Polymer Materials and Chemical Engineering and her MS in Biophysics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. She went on to earn her PhD in Macromolecular Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.In Dr. Cui’s lab, the primary research focus is on the interactions between neural tissue and smart biomaterials. Dr. Cui’s research interests lie in neural engineering with special focuses on neural electrode-tissue interface, neural tissue engineering, central nervous system drug delivery, and biosensors. Specific projects include biomimetic surface coatings for neural microelectrode arrays to improve chronic neural recording and stimulation stability, reliability, and longevity; novel material and device development for implantable neural electrodes; micro-patterning of biochemical, surface chemical, and electrical cues on electrode arrays for neural network study; on demand drug delivery in the nervous system; implantable biosensors for cytokines and neurochemicals; control of neural stem cell growth and differentiation via surface and electrical cues.Dr. Cui has won numerous awards, including Carnegie Science Emerging Female Scientist Award (2013); Pitt Innovator Award (2009, 2011, 2015); National Science Foundation Career Award (2008); and the Wallace Coulter Foundation Translational Early Career Award (2005).She serves as a grant agency reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Science Foundation of Ireland, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Dr. Cui holds one granted and three filed U.S. patents, and she is a reviewer for many prestigious journals, including Science, Advanced Materials, Biomaterials, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Journal of Neural Engineering, and Nature Communications, among others. Dr. Cui is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Materials Chemistry B. ### Image Above: Dr. Cui (left) and Dr. Taylor at the Cui Lab
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Oct

Oct
31
2017

Kumta Lab Postdoc Position

Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Bioengineering department at the University of Pittsburgh in the Swanson School of Engineering is seeking a post-doctoral associate in the area of biosensors for blood based biomarker detection with immediate effect. The position is in the laboratory and research group of Dr. Prashant N. Kumta, the Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering with appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science including the Department of Oral Biology and the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine.The candidate should have expertise in the general area of biosensors with particular expertise in biochemistry of aptamers as well as antibodies, synthesis, functionalization and detection under laboratory and clinical setting using electrochemical impedance based techniques although knowledge and expertise in other techniques and approaches are also welcome. The eligible candidate should preferably have a degree in Bioengineering or any other equivalent area of engineering and science although it will be essential for the candidate to be proficient in biology of human cells, blood and other tissue types combined with strong knowledge and background in electrochemistry and biochemistry. Salary will be commensurate with experience and expertise.Interested individuals should send their curriculum vitae (CV) to Dr. Prashant N. Kumta via e-mail at pkumta@pitt.edu.The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates. We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position.The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

Dr. Prashant Kumta
Oct
11
2017

An Engineer’s Guide to the Embryo

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (October 11, 2017) … In roughly 48 hours, the single cell of the fertilized frog egg will undergo dramatic change to develop vital body parts like muscles, a skeleton, eyes, a heart, and a tadpole tail. Scientists have been studying this process to better understand human development, birth defects, and cancer and to advance technologies like organoid generation and cell replacement therapy. Scientists can disrupt embryo development, pause it, and accelerate it; however, they can’t exactly explain how development works. Supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bioengineers at the University of Pittsburgh are taking a crack at understanding what is going on inside the egg.The NIH Department of Health and Human Services awarded Lance Davidson, professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, $1,327,207 for his study “Biomechanics of Morphogenesis.” Dr. Davidson, who directs the MechMorpho Lab at the University of Pittsburgh, aims to take a structural engineer’s approach to the biomechanics of developing embryos. The Pitt researchers are reverse-engineering the mechanical processes that shape the basic body plan and organ development in embryos using tests, techniques, and tools more likely to be found in a mechanical engineering lab than a molecular genetics lab.“If you saw a bridge for the first time, how would you figure out it worked?” Dr. Davidson asks. “A geneticist might blast it into pieces and analyze how each piece works, but an engineer would look at the ensemble, taking measurements of force and movement. They would put more weight on it and see when it breaks. We are applying these structural analysis principals to understanding embryos.”In the surrounding labs, researchers work with mice, fruit flies, zebrafish, and rats. In Dr. Davidson’s lab, there is Xenopus—a frog native to sub-Saharan Africa. Frogs are ideally suited for Dr. Davidson’s research because their embryos and tissues are incredibly tolerant of lab conditions and resilient to an engineer’s 'touch.' Even after removing them from their protective shells, inducing genetic defects, or injecting fluorescent protein tracers, these frogs won’t croak.“We use frogs because you can extract tissues very easily, and they will continue to grow correctly,” Dr. Davidson says. “A frog’s eye or brain can be isolated and will continue to grow in a petri dish. That won’t happen with a mouse or fish. When the outer layer of a non-amphibian embryo is cut, the embryo won’t maintain its structure. Frog embryos are more like Play-doh, you can cut and paste tissues and reshape them, although Play-doh is still much stiffer than these embryos.”The frog eggs start out about the size of a pencil tip. In a field of study that’s used to accommodating steel beams or reinforced concrete measurements, Dr. Davidson’s group has to get creative with the tools they use. “To perform microsurgery on the frog embryos, we use a scalpel made of human eyebrow hair and a hair loop made from baby hair,” says Dr. Davidson. “The embryos are tiny, wet, and soft; however, they still obey the same shape principles of steel or wood.”“A civil or mechanical engineer might regularly perform tests applying ten million pascals of stress,” he continues. Ten million pascals is about the amount of water pressure coming out of a pressure washer, and one pascal is about how much pressure a single piece of paper exerts on a tabletop. “We have to design special tools that can both apply and measure stress between five to 20 pascals. You can’t just order something like from Amazon, so we improvise in our lab to design and fabricate custom equipment for our needs.” Cells from the prospective brain of the frog are large and active and easily viewed with advanced microscopy. Credit: MechMorpho Lab/Lance Davidson By studying the mechanics of morphogenesis—the process of an embryo changing shape—Dr. Davidson hopes to develop a tool that will provide bioengineers with a much greater understanding of and control over tissue self-assembly.  “Many engineering fields have some kind of software or simulation tool that can take the guess work out their designs before they actually start building. We are developing something similar for tissue engineers so they don’t have to rely on trial and error all the time,” explains Dr. Davidson. Creep tests, strain maps, and micro-aspiration are all engineering techniques employed by Dr. Davidson’s team to understand the underlying mechanics of morphogenesis. These frogs might not be turning into princes any time soon, but from a tiny ball of cells, the embryo can shape itself into a structurally complex tadpole with working organs.“In the course of one study, quite by accident, we observed two sets of eggs, one set starting about twice the size of the other. We watched the embryos develop side-by-side. Because of the initial size difference, we expected to see lots of structural deformities or at least for the tadpoles to come out twice as big. To our surprise many of the 'big egg' embryos survived and their tadpoles grew to the same size as the 'little egg' tadpoles, somehow managing to self-correct while they developed,” Dr. Davidson says.At a time when tissue engineering is becoming increasingly useful in regenerative medicine therapies, Dr. Davidson estimates there are only about five or six other groups in the world making material property measurements in the living tissue of vertebrates like frogs. Building on his research and combining it with results from a 2016 NIH-funded study “Mechanical Control of Mesenchymal-to-Epithelial Transition,” he will continue to flesh out the mechanics of growing tissue. ### Image above: Xenopus tadpoles are excellent test subjects because their transparent bodies allow for unobstructed views into their internal anatomy. Credit: MechMorpho Lab/Lance Davidson
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
10
2017

Bioengineering's BodyExplorer research to be featured at first annual ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival

Bioengineering

University of Pittsburgh Release Virginia Tech and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History present the first annual ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival on October 13-15, 2017. The festival, programmed by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the Museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, is a three-day celebration of creative exploration and research at the nexus of science, engineering, arts, and design (SEAD). Visitors to the festival will interact with innovators and experience new interdisciplinary technologies developed to address global challenges. The event is free and open to the public. The ACCelerate festival will be an opportunity for all ACC schools in partnership with the Lemelson Center to showcase their work to the public, each other, students, alumni, companies, legislators, and invited guests from the nation’s capital. Learn more about the University of Pittsburgh projects that will be on display: BODYEXPLORER: A NEXT-GENERATION SIMULATOR FOR HEALTHCARE TRAINING, PROVIDING HANDS-ON LEARNING AND PRACTICE VIA AUGMENTED REALITY VISUALIZATION BodyExplorer is a next-generation medical simulator designed to enhance the ability of healthcare trainees to learn anatomy and physiology and practice treating patients though naturalistic interaction with an augmented reality-enhanced, full-body simulated patient. Simulation has been recognized as the most prominent innovation in healthcare education in the past two decades, but current systems require substantial resources, including technicians to run the simulator and instructors to lead scenarios, assess student performance, and provide guided feedback. Learning how to operate current simulators requires advanced training, so students typically cannot use them on their own for self-learning. BodyExplorer was designed to enable 24/7 on-demand training and self-learning for students by providing an intuitive interface, autonomous operation, and automated instruction using a highly sensorized physical body, projected augmented reality (AR), and an integrated virtual instructor. AR enables x-ray vision views inside the body, so trainees can see the internal effects of administering simulated medications or performing procedures, such as inserting a breathing tube. BodyExplorer is designed to expand access to the benefits of simulation-based learning for medical and nursing students, first responders, combat medics, and other healthcare practitioners, enabling them to practice skills and receive quantitative feedback on their performance before treating actual patients. Researchers: Joseph Samosky, Douglas Nelson, and John O'Donnell MOBILITY ENHANCEMENT ROBOTIC WHEELCHAIR The Mobility Enhancement Robotic Wheelchair (MEBot) will tackle both curbs and challenging terrains. The large center driving wheels can reposition themselves to simulate front-, mid-, or rear-wheel driving. The four smaller caster wheels are controlled with compressed air and move up and down freely and independently. For climbing curbs, the front caster wheels lift up onto the curb, then the driving wheels lift themselves up and forward onto the curb, which lifts the chair onto the curb. This is done automatically whenever MEBot senses a curb or step. The ultimate goal is for MEBot to climb a set of stairs. The same general function is used to operate on icy or slippery surfaces. A traditional power wheelchair can get stuck on this kind of terrain. MEBot, however, uses its front and rear caster wheels to inch forward on the slick surface by extending its front casters, moving the seat forward, bringing the rear casters forward, and then repeating the process. Meanwhile, the seat stabilization system keeps the driver safely upright. Researchers: Rory A. Cooper, Brandon Daveler, Ben Gebrosky, Garrett Grindle, Andrea Sundaram, Hongwu Wang, and Jorge Candiotti OUR TIME IS UP: AN IMMERSIVE AUDIO DRAMA This multichannel sound installation tells the story of Jake and Helen McCleary, an elderly couple struggling to save their troubled marriage. The story unfolds across a series of weekly therapy sessions in which Jake and Helen sort through the messy details of their relationship. Unlike a conventional audio drama, the characters’ voices are constructed from fragments of oral history recordings of two people who have died—and who never met. Using a manual process of concatenated speech synthesis, the archival voices have been digitally disarticulated and recombined to create a new, fictional story and an uncanny encounter between living and dead, human and machine. This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of writers, designers, historians, and engineers and invites the audience to enter a mock therapist’s office and inhabit the experience of the absent characters, with each character’s voice emitted from a directional speaker. A screencast of the multi-track audio session reveals the secret behind the drama’s construction, and individual headsets provide access to the original oral histories. This immersive experience offers a reflection on the precarious temporality of human lives and relationships and the paradoxical potential for reinvention that sound recording affords. Researchers: Erin Anderson and Brandon Barber ###

Oct
6
2017

Human Movement & Balance Lab Post-Doctoral Associate

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Human Movement & Balance Lab within the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh is seeking a post-doctoral associate. The position is funded through an active grant from the NIH to develop technology for reducing slips and falls by assessing slip potential of the shoe/floor interface and conducting relevant locomotion biomechanical validation experiments. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to develop a new robotic device for measuring shoe-floor traction in collaboration with a growing startup company. Other opportunities to participate in human movement laboratory research and write research proposals may also be available. A background in mechanical design or robotics is essential. Applicants with a background in occupational safety, biomechanics, tribology, and open-source design process is desirable although not necessary. Applicants should hold a PhD in mechanical engineering, bioengineering, biomedical engineering or another similar department. The appointment is intended to be 2 years and may be renewable depending on availability of funds. Review of applications will begin immediately and we intend to complete the hire as soon as possible.The mission for the Human Movement and Balance Lab (HMBL) is fall and musculoskeletal injury prevention in healthy and clinical young/elderly adult populations. The HMBL is a multiple PI lab with four full time research faculty members, two staff members and over 20 students (http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/hmbl/). The HMBL includes more than 5,000 square feet of brand new laboratory space with motion capture; ergonomics and human factors; tribology; and machine shop facilities. The lab is located in the heart of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus. More can be learned about the city of Pittsburgh at http://pittsburghpa.gov/.To apply, please send a cover letter and curriculum vitae (CV) as a single pdf document to Kurt Beschorner (beschorn@pitt.edu).The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates.  We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position.The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

beschorn@pitt.edu
Oct
2
2017

Postdoctoral Associate in Vascular Tissue Engineering

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Open Positions

Postdoctoral Associate in Vascular Tissue EngineeringSoft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Vascular Medicine Institute University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA Available Positions: The Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh currently has openings for a Postdoctoral Associate in Vascular Tissue Engineering. Applicant Screening will begin immediately and will continue until the positions are filled. Openings are immediate and could start as early as November 1, 2017. Qualifications: Candidates for both positions should have excellent organizational skills, an outstanding work ethic, and a strong publication record for their career stage. Highly competitive applicants will have experience in one or more of the following: cell/tissue culture, bioreactor utilization, synthetic chemistry, biofabrication methods, nonlinear optical microscopy, or molecular biology techniques (e.g., flow cytometry, RT-PCR). The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity employer committed to excellence through diversity. Research Description: This NIH-funded project will utilize state-of-the-art tools in tissue engineering to develop a novel biopolymer compliance matched small diameter vascular graft and assess its in-vitro and in-vivo functional performance. Applicants selected for these positions will collaborate with internal collaborators in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Vascular Medicine Institute, as well as with external collaborators from several participating institutions. How to Apply: Interested candidates should submit the following as a single PDF file via email to Prof. Jonathan Vande Geest using ‘STBL Postdoctoral Fellowship 2017 Application’ in the subject line: A 1-2 page cover letter that includes: a concise summary of the applicant’s prior research experience a brief description of the applicant’s future research interests and long term goals CV including degree(s) with GPA, and a list of three personal references up to 3 representative publications Contact: Jonathan P. Vande Geest Professor, Department of Bioengineering McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Vascular Medicine Institute 409 Center for Biotechnology 300 Technology Drive University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Phone: 412-624-6496 Email: jpv20@pitt.edu The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates.  We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position. The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

jpv20@pitt.edu

Sep

Sep
27
2017

Technology developed by Bioengineering's Dr. William Federspiel set for pivotal clinical trials

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (September 27, 2017) - ALung Technologies, Inc., today announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of its Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) to conduct a pivotal clinical trial of the Hemolung® Respiratory Assist System for the treatment of adults with severe acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The FDA’s approval of the IDE makes ALung’s VENT-AVOID Trial the first pivotal trial of extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R) for treating patients with COPD exacerbations. “The achievement of FDA approval for initiation of the VENT-AVOID Trial is an important milestone towards making the Hemolung RAS and ECCO2R therapy available to US patients and their physicians,” said Peter DeComo, Chairman and CEO of ALung. “We believe that there is great potential for the Hemolung technology to facilitate ventilator avoidance, resulting in improved clinical outcomes and a lower cost of care through a reduction in length of stay in the intensive care unit.” The VENT-AVOID Trial is a prospective, multi-center, randomized, controlled, pivotal trial to validate the safety and efficacy of the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System for COPD patients experiencing an acute exacerbation requiring ventilatory support. Forty hospitals will enroll up to 800 patients in the trial. The study protocol is built around a state of the art adaptive statistical plan which will allow for PMA submission when early success criteria are reached, potentially with as few as 300 patients enrolled. COPD patients suffering severe exacerbations will be eligible for the study if they are either 1) failing non-invasive ventilation and presenting a high risk of being intubated and mechanically ventilated or 2) have required intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation due to acute respiratory failure. Serving as the study principal investigator is Dr. Nicholas Hill, MD, Chief, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Hill is an international leader in pulmonary critical care medicine, having led studies which established non-invasive ventilation as the standard of care for COPD exacerbations. In addition to the US-based VENT-AVOID study, The Hemolung RAS is also being studied in a landmark pivotal study for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as part of the 1,120-patient REST Trial in the United Kingdom. “Our commitment to clinical science runs very deep,” added Mr. DeComo. “We will soon be the only company participating in not just one, but two major pivotal trials validating the safety and efficacy of extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal therapy provided by the Hemolung RAS.” ALung worked collaboratively with the FDA under its Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) program to obtain IDE approval. The Expedited Access Pathway is a new FDA program aimed to facilitate more rapid patient access to breakthrough technologies intended to treat or diagnose life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions. ALung will continue to collaborate with the FDA during study enrollment and through the PMA process. COPD affects 30 million Americans1 and is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.2 Acute exacerbations, defined as a sudden worsening of COPD symptoms, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in COPD patients. For patients with severe exacerbations, high levels of carbon dioxide can result in respiratory failure and the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation as life saving measures. Unfortunately, mechanical ventilation is associated with many side effects, and in-hospital mortality remains as high as 30%. ECCO2R therapy with the Hemolung RAS allows carbon dioxide to be removed from the blood independently of the lungs with the aim of facilitating the avoidance or reduction of intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation. ALung was founded in 1997 by Dr. William Federspiel, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and the late Dr. Brack Hattler, a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon. Dr. Federspiel and his team at the University’s Medical Devices Laboratory, part of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, developed the original Hemolung technology which was subsequently licensed by ALung for commercial development. The Hemolung RAS has been approved outside of the United States since 2013 and is commercially available in major European markets. ### About ALung Technologies ALung Technologies, Inc. is a privately-held Pittsburgh-based developer and manufacturer of innovative lung assist devices. Founded in 1997 as a spin-out of the University of Pittsburgh, ALung has developed the Hemolung RAS as a dialysis-like alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation. ALung is backed by Philips, UPMC Enterprises, Abiomed, The Accelerator Fund, Allos Ventures, Birchmere Ventures, Blue Tree Ventures, Eagle Ventures, Riverfront Ventures, West Capital Advisors, and other individual investors. For more information about ALung and the Hemolung RAS, visit www.alung.com. For more information about the VENT-AVOID Trial, visit https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03255057. The Hemolung RAS is an Investigational Device and limited by United States law to investigational use. This press release may contain forward-looking statements, which, if not based on historical facts, involve current assumptions and forecasts as well as risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from the results or events stated in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, certain events not within the Company’s control. Events that could cause results to differ include failure to meet ongoing developmental and manufacturing timelines, changing GMP requirements, the need for additional capital requirements, risks associated with regulatory approval processes, adverse changes to reimbursement for the Company’s products/services, and delays with respect to market acceptance of new products/services and technologies. Other risks may be detailed from time to time, but the Company does not attempt to revise or update its forward-looking statements even if future experience or changes make it evident that any projected events or results expressed or implied therein will not be realized.
Scott Morley, Sr. Vice President of Market Development, ALung Technologies, Inc.
Sep
1
2017

American Health Council Names Bioengineeirng's Dr. William Federspiel to Education Board

Bioengineering

AHC NEWS RELEASE - William Federspiel, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, has been selected to join the Education Board at the American Health Council. He will be sharing his knowledge and expertise in Healthcare Education, Workforce Development, Business, Leadership, Management, Chemistry, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Medical Devices. Dr. Federspiel has been active in the healthcare industry for the last 28 years. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1978 and his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1983 from the University of Rochester. Inspired to pursue his profession by a desire to help people, Dr. Federspiel has now been a bioengineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh for 21 years. His day-to-day responsibilities include teaching and mentoring, administrative duties, and research grants. Dr. Federspiel attributes his success to hard work and dedication. He has been published in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and has held academic positions in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and Boston University. Awards and honors he has received include Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Certificate of Appreciation for Distinguished Service to the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service Scientific Merit Review Board from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and an Honorable Mention in the Start-Up Entrepreneur category of the 2014 Carnegie Science Awards. Dr. Federspiel is also a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering (AIMBE) and member of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO). His long-term professional goals include helping his start-up company be successful and seeing his respiratory assist devices treating patients. Among his many achievements, Dr. Federspiel is most proud to be a founder of ALung Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based medical start-up company, for which he serves as the head of the scientific advisory board. ###
American Health Council

Aug

Aug
7
2017

Pitt’s Coulter Program awards $650,000 to six teams developing novel biomedical technology

Bioengineering

ul { line-height: 20px; margin-bottom:40px; } PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) …The University of Pittsburgh Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program awarded grants totaling $650,000 to six translational research teams through its most recent funding cycle. The new funded projects include a biomarker for identifying intracranial hemorrhage, a biosensor platform for detecting cardiac events, a drug delivery platform for preventing sexually transmitted infections, a device to improve viability of donor livers for transplantation, a novel peripheral IV placement catheter, and a significantly improved surgical retractor. “The six winning teams met our rigorous business oriented criteria and were among the best we have seen. They were also among the most diverse, as a result of a broader field of applicants,” said Max Fedor, Coulter Program Director. “In addition to direct funding for translational research, teams receive significant coaching from our experienced staff and from external business and clinical experts, who have partnered with us. We are extremely pleased with the success of this year’s program and look forward to expanding further funding collaborations across the University community in the upcoming competitive grant cycle this fall.” The Coulter Program, housed within Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering, is a partnership between the Swanson School of Engineering, the Schools of the Health Sciences and the Innovation Institute. The Program aims to identify, select, and develop promising late-stage biomedical projects that address significant unmet clinical needs and have the potential for positive clinical and economic impacts. The 2017 Coulter funding cycle was unique from previous years, in that applications were accepted in collaboration with the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data and SciVelo, the Department of Dermatology, the Department of Plastic Surgery, the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and the Vascular Medicine Institute. Each partner agreed to provide financial support jointly with Coulter for winning projects within their category.  Details on the six funded technologies and their scientific and clinical teams include: Biomarkers for Infant Brain Injury Score (BIBIS): A serum biomarker panel for improving identification of intracranial hemorrhage in infants and young children. Rachel Berger, MD, MPH, Professor, Department of Pediatrics Brian Pak, PhD, Director of Assay Development and Paul Smith, President and CEO of Axela, Inc. CardioSense: A universal biosensor platform for detection and monitoring of congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction. Prashant Kumta, PhD, Professor, Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine Robert Kormos, MD, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Bioengineering Mitali Patil, MS, and PhD Candidate, Department of Bioengineering Prashanth Jampani Hanumantha, PhD, Department of Bioengineering HerShield: A quick dissolving vaginal film for on-demand drug delivery platform for protection against sexually transmitted infections. Lisa C. Rohan, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Katherine Bunge, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Sravan Kumar Patel, PhD, Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences OrganEvac: A whole-organ sonothrombolysis device to increase the number of livers available for transplantation from donors after cardiac death Christopher Hughes, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery and Surgical Director, Liver Transplantation Paulo Fontes, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director, Machine Perfusion Program, Starzl Transplantation Institute ThreadRite IV: A novel resistance-sensing catheter with guidewire to expedite peripheral IV placement on the first attempt. William (Buddy) Clark, PhD, Professor Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Cameron Dezfulian, MD, Assistant Professor Adult & Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Ehsan Quaim, Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Dennis Wist, CEO Nicholas Krehel, Research Assistant, Critical Care Medicine Steeltown Retractor: A flexible arm surgical tool holder that gives surgeons unprecedented fast, precise tool positioning capabilities while minimizing operating room (OR) costs for the hospital Jeffrey Vipperman, PhD, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Pete Allen, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery Garth Elias, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery Joe Marcanio, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Innovation Institute Christopher Dumm, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science About the Coulter Translational Research Partners II ProgramThe Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program is a University based accelerator, designed to help faculty researchers translate their innovations to commercialization. By way of a competitive grant program, training processes, and collaborative services, our goal is to de-risk University technology and identify viable commercial pathways through the complex healthcare industry landscape. Further, we engage extensively with business partners, mentors and clinical experts to bring industry perspectives to translational research. In 6 years, the Coulter Program has attracted almost 200 applications, funded 31 projects leading to eight license agreements, four optioned technologies and eight start-up companies. ###

Aug
4
2017

Bioengineering Faculty tenured/tenure-stream

Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering ( engineering.pitt.edu/bioengineering ) invites applications from accomplished individuals with an earned PhD or equivalent degree in bioengineering or closely related disciplines for a faculty position in Synthetic Biology or Systems Biology. This is a tenured/tenure-stream, open-rank position and we wish to recruit an individual with strong research accomplishments in synthetic or systems biology, with a focus on engineering of living systems and potential to complement our current strengths in biomechanics, neural engineering, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, medical device engineering, and bioimaging. In addition, candidates must be committed to contributing to high quality education of a diverse student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh is a top-five institution in terms of NIH funding, and provides a rich environment for interdisciplinary research, strengthened through its affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The Department of Bioengineering, consistently ranked among the top programs in the country, has outstanding research and educational programs, offering undergraduate (~270 students, sophomore-to-senior years) and graduate (~150 PhD or MD/PhD and ~50 MS students) degrees. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine ( mirm.pitt.edu ), the Vascular Medicine Institute ( vmi.pitt.edu ), the Brain Institute ( braininstitute.pitt.edu ), Center for Neuroscience ( neurobio.pitt.edu ), and the Drug Discovery Institute ( upddi.pitt.edu ) offer many collaborative research opportunities. The Coulter Translational Partnership II Program ( engineering.pitt.edu/coulter ) and the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data ( healthdataalliance.com/university-of-pittsburgh ) provide biomedical innovation and translation opportunities. Interested individuals should send the following as a single, self-contained PDF attachment via email to bioeapp@pitt.edu ( include AY18 PITT BIOE POSITION in the subject line ): (1) cover letter, (2) complete CV (including funding record, if applicable), (3) research statement, (4) teaching statement, (5) three representative publications, and (6) names and complete contact information of at least four references. To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by November 30, 2017. However, applications will be reviewed as they are received. Early submission is highly encouraged. The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates. We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position. The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

bioeapp@pitt.edu
Aug
3
2017

Sending the Right Signals

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (August 3, 2017) … Through a process called cell signaling, cells collaborate on necessary functions such as responding to changes in the environment, fighting off threats to the body, or regulating the basic processes that keep the body alive. Cells work much like computers carrying out functions and use cell signaling over a vast network. Also much like computers, cells can be reprogrammed to change their behavior.Warren Ruder, assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is developing microparticles that carry engineered bacteria known as ‘smart biomaterials.’ As the basis of a study recently supported by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Ruder will use the biomaterials to reprogram mammalian cell signaling. The goal of the study is to use these hybrid, living-nonliving biomaterials to better understand how cell signaling works and influence cell behavior when a problem occurs.“Fundamentally, many diseases result from incorrect cell signaling,” explains Dr. Ruder, “which causes the body’s natural control systems to fail to maintain normal function, or homeostasis. New tools that allow cell signaling to be rewired therefore can affect many diseases. This project is geared toward developing new tools for exploring and rewiring cell signaling.”Dr. Ruder will serve as principal investigator of the project titled “Creating Smart Biomaterials Using Engineered Bacteria that Cooperatively Reprogram Mammalian Cells.” The research will focus on delivering synthetic genetic components to mammalian cells and reprogramming their calcium signaling processes, specifically. Calcium signaling occurs in many cells, and it controls both slow and fast cellular processes.“Calcium signaling is one of the most important cell signals,” Dr. Ruder says. “It is the signature of muscle contraction, relevant to many forms of cardiac or musculoskeletal disease, but also a master regulator of processes ranging from neuron firing and brain function to fertilization.” Once Dr. Ruder introduces the smart biomaterials, they will be able to collaborate and collectively determine when to transmit genetic components to mammalian cells. Dr. Ruder will then use mathematical modeling and computation simulation to explore the processes behind calcium signaling in mammalian cells and which genetic alterations will cause the most significant changes in cell signaling dynamics.“The bacteria will be genetically engineered to invade mammalian cells. Once inside, they will genetically engineer the mammalian cells in a process distinctly different from viral genetic delivery. We will engineer two different types of bacteria that will signal each other and thus work as a team to invade after they monitor the environment,” says Dr. Ruder.The project will receive $338,414 in NSF funding and will cover the award period from August 1, 2017 to July 31, 2020.About Dr. RuderDr. Ruder graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a BS in civil and environmental engineering in 2002. He completed his MS in mechanical engineering and his PhD in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Dr. Ruder was also part of the inaugural “Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine” class, which is a joint program between Pitt and CMU that receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and aims to provide training in biomechanical engineering principles and biology to students pursuing doctoral degrees in bioengineering.His work focuses on merging biomechanical systems and the microscale and nanoscale with engineering living cells and smart material systems, the latter of which involves synthetic biology. Over the years his research has included: two years of research on mammalian cell signal transduction in the laboratory of Professor Aldebaran Hofer at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Surgery; one month in the field in Antarctica studying organismal biomechanics and responses to ice encapsulation (a field of ecological mechanics); and two and a half years as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor James Collins, at Boston University (now at MIT) and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.Dr. Ruder left his position as an assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech to teach at Pitt as a Bioengineering Assistant Professor. For the past four years at Virginia Tech, he directed the “Engineered Living Systems Laboratory,” a group focused on merging synthetic biology with biomimetic systems. He has authored 23 archival papers in journals such as Science, PNAS, Lab-on-a-Chip and Scientific Reports, and his group’s work has been highlighted in Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Wired (UK). The student honor society in his department at Virginia Tech selected Dr. Ruder as his department’s “Faculty Member of the Year” in 2014. While at Pitt, Dr. Ruder will be applying his work to medical technologies and cures for disease. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Jul

Jul
26
2017

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards three novel biomedical devices with $65,000 total Round-1 2017 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 26, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $65,000 to three research groups through its 2017 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new technology for reducing risk of post-partum uterine hemorrhage, a thermal device for inducing nerve block in pain control, and a system to improve transplanted organ viability.CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare.“This is our sixth year of pilot funding,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “Since our inception, more than $1 million from external funding sources and from the Swanson School of Engineering has been invested in early stage medical technologies. Many of these technologies have the potential to significantly improve the delivery of health care and several new companies have resulted from the program, which has successfully partnered UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.”AWARD 1: Objective Postpartum Uterine Tone MonitoringFunds development of a new prototype uterine tone measurement device for eventual testing in the clinical setting. The device would evaluate intra-uterine muscle tone for detection of and control of postpartum bleeding.Gerhardt Konig, MDDepartment of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Jason Shoemaker, PhDAssistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of EngineeringAWARD 2: Novel Thermal Block Technology to Block Nerve ConductionFor development and preclinical testing of a thermal nerve block device for anesthesia and pain control. Early research in mice shows that the effect can be useful in controlling production and communication of nerve impulses. The award will demonstrate proof of concept to attract additional funding from external competitive grants. Development of a small implantable, wireless controlled, wireless chargeable device to control the electrodes will be a primary goal. The prototype device will then test the pudendal nerve to confirm the nerve block effects. Changfeng Tai, PhD Associate Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssociate Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Christopher Chermansky, MDAssistant Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Bo Zeng, PhD Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 3: OrganEvac/Whole Organ Sonothrombolysis DeviceThis award is an equal participation between the Center for Medical Innovation and the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at Pitt. The early stage seed grant will demonstrate proof of concept that sonothrombolysis technology can greatly enhance viability of transplanted liver tissue through evaluation of thromboemboli in excised, non-transplantable human liver tissue. Paulo Fontes, MDAssociate Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector of the Machine Perfusion Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterJohn Pacella, MD, MSAssistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center Heart and Vascular InstituteFlordeliza Villaneuva, MDVice Chair for Pre-Clinical Research, Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterAbout the Center for Medical InnovationThe Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). Established in 2011, CMI promotes the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; educates the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and facilitates the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services. CMI has supported more than 50 early-stage projects through more than $1 million in funding since inception. ###

Jul
10
2017

Working the [Immune] System

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … As a rule, implants and the immune system don’t get along. The human body recognizes these materials as foreign substances and tries to fight them like a virus or bacteria. Although this response can cause trouble for doctors and patients, new research at the University of Pittsburgh suggests the immune system can actually assist the body in accepting implanted biomaterials. The National Institute on Aging, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.57 million R01 grant to examine how aging affects implantable medical devices. This is the second R01 grant from the NIH Dr. Brown has received this year to support his research of implantable materials. His study, “Assessing the Impacts of Aging upon the Macrophage Response to Implantable Materials,” will specifically address reactions to implantable medical devices by the aged body, including immunosenescence (a deterioration of the immune system brought on by aging), dysregulation of white blood cell function and polarization, and delayed resolution of acute immune responses.“The impacts of aging on individuals with implants have never been investigated,” said Dr. Brown. “As Baby Boomers in particular age, the number of people over 65 will grow, and more than 75 percent of these individuals have at least one chronic condition, usually associated with inflammation. We need therefore a better understanding of how aging affects the immune system’s responses to implants.”Dr. Brown will build upon earlier research in which he demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to the success and function of implants. His study found that the first week of macrophage activity (a type of white blood cell) at the implant site could predict immune system response as far as 90 days down the road. By controlling the immune system response, Dr. Brown and his team are looking for the best way to lengthen the lifespan of implants and minimize the negative effects of implanting a foreign object into the body.“Really, the challenges are not fully known,” explained Dr. Brown. “Many implants are used primarily in older individuals, so there is not always a point of comparison. However, in our previous work, we have demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to success and function of implants. Therefore, we are trying to define changes in aged individuals to develop informed approaches to improving implant function in this population. With a projected two billion individuals over the age of 65 by 2050, optimizing the success of implants that can treat a wide range of illnesses could result in significant benefits for patients in their golden years.” ### Image above: Dr. Brown (middle) in the lab with Pitt BioE graduate students Alexis Nolfi (left) and Samuel LoPresti (right).
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
6
2017

Keeping the Beat: NIH continues Pitt’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program with Five-Year, $1.9 Million Award

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 6, 2017) … The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has renewed funding for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP). The program - which educates students who are interested in cardiovascular research and pursuing a PhD in bioengineering - will receive more than $1.9 million over the next five years.Sanjeev Shroff, the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering at Pitt, established the CBTP in 2005 to train bioengineering doctoral students for careers in basic and/or translational cardiovascular research. By renewing the grant, the NIH has guaranteed funding until 2022.“A unique feature of the program is that students are exposed first-hand to real-world clinical problems requiring bioengineering input for their solution,” said Dr. Shroff, who serves as principal investigator for the program. “The program is designed to provide students both breadth and depth in engineering and biological sciences and also includes a formal exposure to biostatistics, bioethics, and professional and career development issues. Upon completion, students are well-versed in both basic and clinical aspects of cardiovascular engineering and are well prepared for rewarding careers in a growing field.”Student research within Pitt’s CBTP has focused on a variety of problems, ranging from basic science to novel biomedical technologies for the diagnosis and/or treatment of critical cardiovascular health issues. Examples of these research projects include: Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction by cardiac troponin-I phosphorylation Mechanical processes and pathways that underlie heart morphogenesis Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying vaso-occlusion in Sickle Cell Disease Role of Profilin-1 in angiogenesis Externally regulated synthetic capillary system for promoting angiogenesis Rapidly degrading synthetic materials for tissue-engineered vascular grafts Extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds for heart tissue regeneration Adipose stem cell-based treatments for abdominal aortic aneurysms Improved biocompatibility of implanted cardiovascular devices to reduce rejection Coacervate-based controlled delivery of growth factors for cardiac repair Thermal strain imaging for non-invasive identification of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques The NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides funding for the program and has designated the grant a National Research Service Award. These awards are granted to training programs in disciplines that address the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs with an emphasis on producing diverse pool of highly trained scientists. Each student in the CBTP receives a monthly stipend, tuition scholarship, health insurance, and a travel budget.About the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training ProgramThe goal of the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP) is to provide a solid foundation upon which to build a productive independent career in cardiovascular bioengineering. This is accomplished via a highly coordinated and mentored interdisciplinary training program with a combination of core and elective courses, clinical internships, research activities, and specialized training opportunities to enhance professional and career development. There are three focus areas of this program: (1) Basic understanding and quantitative characterization of native (normal and pathological conditions) and perturbed (i.e., with deployment of man-made devices or constructs) cardiovascular function at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), (2) Imaging for functional assessment at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), and (3) Design and optimization of artificial devices and constructs (mechanical, tissue-engineered, and hybrid).About Dr. ShroffDr. Sanjeev Shroff is the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering. Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt, Dr. Shroff was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for 17 years in the Department of Medicine (Cardiology Section). Trained as an electrical engineer (Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, and Master of Engineering from McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), Dr. Shroff obtained his doctoral degree in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship within the Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Division of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine. Dr. Shroff is widely recognized as a distinguished scholar in the cardiovascular arena. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

May

May
31
2017

Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation Awards $100,000 to BioE’s Abhijit Roy

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 31, 2017) … The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) has chosen Dr. Abhijit Roy, a Research Assistant Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering, as a recipient of its Junior Investigator Award to help fund his research into a novel bone grafts with the potential for complete bone generation in areas with defects.“The grant is aimed at providing a revolutionary concept representing a paradigm shift in the arena of degradable materials for craniomaxillofacial bone regeneration,” said Dr. Roy. “Success of this project will establish a revolutionary technology possessing unique benefits not proffered by existing synthetic bone grafts, including complete resorption, osteoconductivity, mechanical stability throughout the complete bone healing process, and biocompatibility and safety.” Beginning in July 2017, Dr. Roy will receive $100,000 over one year for his study “Novel Mg Alloy Based Biodegradable Porous Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration of Critical Sized Cranial Bone Defects.” The research will be carried out in the group of Dr. Prashant N. Kumta, the Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Kumta will serve as coinvestigator on the study along with Dr. Vijay S. Gorantla, assistant professor of plastic surgery at Pitt, and Dr. MaCalus V. Hogan, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Pitt.The MTF Junior Investigator Award is for researchers attempting to advance allografts, the science of transplantation, and the biological reconstruction of musculoskeletal tissues. Allografts, a type of non-synthetic graft, come from donors other than the patient. They can lead to complications from adverse immune response and the risk of disease transmission. Autografts, non-synthetic grafts taken from the patient’s own tissue, usually require a second surgical site and can increase the risk for infection, require extended operating room and recovery times, and increase healthcare expenditures. According to MTF, many doctors prefer allografts over autografts because of their availability, safety, and readiness for use. However, in both allografts and autografts, the amount of tissue that can be harvested is limited. Synthetic bone graft substitutes offer new therapy options for the treatment of bone defects without the complications associated with non-synthetic grafts. “Unfortunately, the majority of synthetic bone grafts developed to date are inert and non-degradable which lead to insufficient bone formation, poor integration to the surrounding tissue, long term complications and the need for prolonged treatment with antibiotics and immunosuppressive therapies,” explained Dr. Roy. “This project will test the use of a novel degradable magnesium metal alloy-based bone graft that will lead to complete bone regeneration in a rat calvarial [or skullcap] defect.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
10
2017

Following two decades as Dean, Gerald Holder to return to faculty at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (May 10, 2017) ... Marking the culmination of more than two decades of dynamic leadership, Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, has announced his intention to step down from his position to return to the faculty in the fall of 2018.Holder, Distinguished Service Professor of chemical engineering, has been dean of the Swanson School since 1996 and a member of its faculty since 1979.“Two words come to mind when I look back on Jerry’s incredible career as dean of our Swanson School of Engineering: tremendous growth,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Under Jerry’s leadership, our Swanson School has seen record enrollment levels and total giving to the school has topped $250 million. “The school has also expanded academically to support new knowledge in areas like energy and sustainability — and also new partnerships, including a joint engineering program with China’s Sichuan University. And while I will certainly miss Jerry’s many contributions as dean, I am grateful that he will remain an active faculty member and continue to strengthen our Swanson School’s bright future,” Gallagher said.       “Through a focus on innovation and excellence, Dean Holder has led a transformation of the Swanson School of Engineering into a leader in engineering research and education,” said Patricia E. Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor. Beeson added, "From the establishment of the now top-ranked Department of Bioengineering to the integrated first-year curriculum that has become a national model, the Swanson School has been a change maker. And with nearly three-quarters of the faculty hired while he has been dean, the culture of success that he has established will remain long after he steps down.” The University plans to announce the search process for his successor in the coming months. Holder’s Many Accomplishments In his 21 years as dean, Holder has overseen school growth as well as increases in research awards and philanthropic gifts. Enrollment has doubled to nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and the number of PhDs has increased threefold. Holder also has emphasized programs to nourish diversity and engagement — for example, in 2012 the Swanson School had the highest percentage in the nation of engineering doctoral degrees awarded to women. Co-curricular programs also have prospered during Holder’s tenure. The school’s cooperative education program, which places students in paid positions in industry during their undergraduate studies, has increased to approximately 300 active employers. International education or study abroad has also become a hallmark of a Pitt engineering education, with 46 percent participation in 2015 versus a 4.6 percent national average for engineering and a 22.6 percent national average for STEM fields. The school’s annual sponsored research has tripled during Holder’s years as dean, totaling a cumulative $400 million. Alumnus John A. Swanson’s landmark $43 million naming gift came in 2007, the largest-ever gift by an individual to the University at the time.University-wide initiatives developed during Holder’s tenure as dean include the Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering; the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, founded with support of alumnus John C. “Jack” Mascaro; and the Center for Energy.Holder is likewise held in high regard by his peers. "As a dean of long standing, many of us refer to Dean Holder as `the Dean of deans,’ not just because of his years of service but also because of the respect that we have for his leadership, mentorship and impact on the engineering profession,” said James H. Garrett Jr., dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.“He is an accomplished academician, an exceptional academic leader and a tremendous human being.” Holder, a noted expert on natural gas hydrates and author of more than 100 journal articles, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Kalamazoo College and bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. He was a faculty member in chemical engineering at Columbia University prior to joining the Pitt engineering faculty in 1979. He served as chair of the chemical engineering department from 1987 to 1995 before being named dean of engineering.Among many professional accomplishments, he was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2003. In 2008 he was named an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow and was awarded the William Metcalf Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania for lifetime achievement in engineering. In 2015 he was elected chair of the American Society of Engineering Educators’ (ASEE) Engineering Deans Council, the leadership organization of engineering deans in the U.S., for a two-year term. The council has approximately 350 members, representing more than 90 percent of all U.S. engineering deans and is tasked by ASEE to advocate for engineering education, research and engagement throughout the U.S., especially among the public at large and in U.S. public policy. ###
Author: Kimberly Barlow, University Communications

Apr

Apr
25
2017

ALung Submits IDE Application to FDA Seeking Approval to Conduct Pivotal Study of the Hemolung RAS

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (April 25, 2017) - ALung Technologies, Inc., announced today the submission of its Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking approval to conduct a pivotal clinical study of the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System for the treatment of adults with severe acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD affects 30 million Americans1 and is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.2 Acute exacerbations, defined as a sudden worsening of COPD symptoms, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in COPD patients. For patients with severe exacerbations, high levels of carbon dioxide can result in respiratory failure and the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation as life saving measures. Unfortunately, mechanical ventilation is associated with many side effects, and in-hospital mortality remains as high as 30%. The Hemolung technology aims to avoid or reduce the need for intubation and ventilator support by directly removing carbon dioxide from the blood. ALung has been working with the FDA under the Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) program to complete pre-clinical testing and finalize its clinical study protocol. “Submission of our IDE is a significant milestone, made possible only through the hard work of our team in close collaboration with the FDA,” said Peter DeComo, Chairman and CEO of ALung. “We look forward to completing the IDE review and beginning the study later this year.” ALung’s recently announced $36 million Series C financing, led by Philips and UPMC Enterprises, will support the clinical study program. About ALung Technologies ALung Technologies, Inc. is a privately-held Pittsburgh-based developer and manufacturer of innovative lung assist devices. Founded in 1997 as a spin-out of the University of Pittsburgh, ALung has developed the Hemolung RAS as a dialysis-like alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation. ALung is backed by Philips, UPMC Enterprises, Abiomed, The Accelerator Fund, Allos Ventures, Birchmere Ventures, Blue Tree Ventures, Eagle Ventures, Riverfront Ventures, West Capital Advisors, and other individual investors. For more information about ALung and the Hemolung RAS, visit www.alung.com. This press release may contain forward-looking statements, which, if not based on historical facts, involve current assumptions and forecasts as well as risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from the results or events stated in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, certain events not within the Company’s control. Events that could cause results to differ include failure to meet ongoing developmental and manufacturing timelines, changing GMP requirements, the need for additional capital requirements, risks associated with regulatory approval processes, adverse changes to reimbursement for the Company’s products/services, and delays with respect to market acceptance of new products/services and technologies. Other risks may be detailed from time to time, but the Company does not attempt to revise or update its forward-looking statements even if future experience or changes make it evident that any projected events or results expressed or implied therein will not be realized. ### References 1. https://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/COPD-Facts/Statistics.aspx2. http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/research/copd-trend-report.pdf
ALung Technologies News Release
Apr
18
2017

“Rescue Stent” Wins Another Award from Society For Biomaterials

Bioengineering

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (April 18, 2017) … The “Rescue Stent,” a medical device designed at the University of Pittsburgh to help manage large vessel hemorrhaging after a chest trauma, won the Audience Award at the 3rd Society For Biomaterials (SFB) 2017 Business Plan Competition. Puneeth Shridhar, MD MS, who is pursuing second doctoral degree in Bioengineering at Pitt, presented the Rescue Stent during the SFB Annual Meeting & Exposition in Minneapolis. The audience members voted for his presentation to receive the $1,000 prize and Audience Award recognition.The SFB Business Plan Competition evaluates biomaterials-based research innovations from all over the world that have the potential to succeed in the medical device industry. Participants submit abstracts containing an information about the technology, market research and a commercialization strategy. They then present their ideas in the form of a 10-minute pitch followed by a question and answer session from judges and audience members.Dr. Shridhar was attending the conference to accept another award he won earlier this year: the Honorable Mention Student Travel Achievement (STAR) Award. The SFB Education and Professional Development Committee recognized Dr. Shridhar with the STAR Award for his outstanding student paper titled “The Rescue Stent for Non Compressible Traumatic Hemorrhage.” The paper outlined the development, design and future business strategy for the Rescue Stent.In 2016, the United States Department of Defense granted $2.5 million in funds for a four-year research collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery to develop the Rescue Stent. The research team is working to make the Rescue Stent the first removable, collapsible and biocompatible trauma stent to prevent internal bleeding from the aorta. The Rescue Stent will have both military and civilian applications and could greatly reduce fatalities caused by gunshot wounds, stabbings and other related torso injuries.Dr. Bryan Tillman, assistant professor of vascular surgery at the School of Medicine, serves as principal investigator on the study that received funding to develop the Rescue Stent. Joining Dr. Tillman are three engineering professors: Youngjae Chun, assistant professor in the Departments of Industrial Engineering and Bioengineering; Sung Kwon Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; and William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
14
2017

BioE’s Jaeyeon Choi Awarded $45,000 to Develop New Treatment for Metastatic Melanoma

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 14, 2017) … The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) awarded Jaeyeon Choi, a graduate student in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, a two-year, $45,000 research grant for her proposal to use targeted radionuclides in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, also known as Stage IV melanoma. Radionuclide therapy is a rapidly growing branch of nuclear medicine, according to SNMMI. The treatment uses radioactive drugs called radiopharmaceuticals to target and eliminate cancer cells, often directly and with limited damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Researchers have already developed targeted radionuclide therapies to treat certain diseases such as prostate cancer, and organizations like SNMMI are looking to expand the treatments to a variety of other cancers. In her proposal “Improving VLA-4 targeted radio nuclide therapy for metastatic melanoma with 177Lu-labeled albumin-binding LLP2A,” Choi outlined a new method of using radionuclides to treat metastatic melanoma and a new imaging strategy to better determine how patients are responding to the therapy. “Metastatic melanoma is a highly challenging disease to treat, and treatment approaches are very limited,” said Choi. “The five-year survival rate for patients is only 15-20 percent. I think my proposal was chosen because of the critical need to improve therapies and increase the overall survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.” At the University of Pittsburgh, Choi studies radionuclide therapies and diagnostics for the treatment of human diseases under the supervision of Carolyn Anderson, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute In Vivo Imaging Facility. Dr. Anderson is also a professor of radiology with a secondary appointment in the Swanson School of Engineering Department of Bioengineering. Choi’s research focuses on developing novel molecular imaging probes using radionuclides to target specific immune cells, which can be used to diagnose human inflammatory diseases such as tuberculosis. She is also working on a project developing novel targeted radionuclide therapeutics for the treatment of different types of cancers.  “The bioengineering program at Pitt has given me great opportunities to incorporate different approaches to research from multiple engineering fields including tissue engineering, biomaterials and medical imaging,” said Choi. “I think technology is improving by becoming more multidisciplinary, and Dr. Anderson has really helped me take advantage of the University’s resources while designing and executing my research projects.” The SNMMI awards the Pre-doctoral Molecular Imaging Scholar Program grant to only one recipient every two years. The research scholar must be working in an established molecular imaging lab and must be a full-time student working toward a PhD or MD in an educational institution during the award period. The objective of the grant is “to encourage the integration of imaging approaches in the research of molecular pathways of disease.” Choi began studying at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and is on track to receive her PhD in 2019. She would like to continue her study in radiopharmaceutical science and work in a faculty position at a research institution after graduation. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
10
2017

Pitt Names Senior Vice Chancellor for Research

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH—Rob A. Rutenbar has been named the University of Pittsburgh’s senior vice chancellor for research. In this newly established position, he will lead the University’s strategic vision for research and innovation, enhancing existing technological partnerships. “I am delighted to welcome Rob to the University of Pittsburgh as our inaugural senior vice chancellor for research,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “His experience as a researcher, innovator, collaborator and entrepreneur — both inside and outside of the university — make Rob uniquely qualified to support our faculty’s research and innovation efforts and to champion Pitt research on a local, national and global scale.” Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson said Rutenbar is exceptionally well-suited for the role. “His administrative, entrepreneurial and research experiences align well with our vision for a leader who drives excellence and will serve as a champion for the University of Pittsburgh,” she said. “Rob’s experiences and expertise in both the academic world and the private sector make him the perfect individual to fully integrate and expand upon Pitt’s University-level research and medical school endeavors,” said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. “In the coming years, we hope to be an internationally recognized model for how the various divisions of an educational institution can communicate and work together. Rob Rutenbar is precisely the type of professional needed to accomplish that goal.” Working with other senior University officials, the senior vice chancellor for research is responsible for establishing and implementing a long-term plan for research infrastructure. The position manages the University’s Center for Research Computing, Economic Partnerships, the Innovation Institute, the Office of Export Controls, the Office of Research, the Research Conduct and Compliance Office and the Radiation Safety Office. Additionally, Rutenbar will have an active role with the University's Swanson School of Engineering. “Dr. Rutenbar is an internationally=acclaimed scholar in computer engineering, and we are most excited that he is joining the faculty of our Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering here in the Swanson School of Engineering," saidAlan George, chair of the Swanson School's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "We are looking forward to his contributions to and collaboration with our ECE research programs." Rutenbar brings nearly 40 years of experience in innovation and technology to Pitt. His research focuses on three broad categories: tools for a wide variety of integrated circuit design issues, methods for managing the statistics of nanoscale chip design and custom computer architectures for perceptual and data analytics problems. Rutenbar currently serves as the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and heads the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this role, he oversees a department composed of 70 faculty members and more than 2,400 students that is currently ranked as the No. 5 computer science program in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Prior to assuming that position in 2010, Rutenbar was a faculty member within Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for 25 years. As an entrepreneur, Rutenbar founded the tech firms Neolinear Inc. and Voci Technologies, Inc. in 1998 and 2006, respectively. He was the founding director for the Center for Circuit and System Solutions, a multi-university consortium that focused on next-generation chip design challenges. The recipient of 14 U.S. patent grants, his endeavors have been funded by such notable entities as AT&T, Google, IBM, the National Science Foundation and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance. Rutenbar is the author of eight books and 175 published research articles. In recognition of his career accomplishments, Rutenbar was elected a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has twice won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ coveted Donald O. Pedersen Best Paper Award. He was recognized with distinguished alumnus awards from both the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. In 2002, Rutenbar was named Carnegie Mellon’s Stephen J. Jatras Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering, an endowed professorship position he held until leaving that university in 2010. Rutenbar earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Wayne State University in 1978. He earned master’s and doctorate degrees in computer, information and control engineering at the University of Michigan in 1979 and 1984, respectively. Rutenbar will join Pitt’s senior leadership team in July. ###
Anthony Moore, University Communications
Apr
3
2017

BodyExplorer Shows Students What They’re Made of

Bioengineering

ORLANDO, FL (April 3, 2017) … Imagine you are a medical or nursing student who wants to learn how to effectively and safely anesthetize a patient prior to surgery. You walk up to the patient and are guided by a virtual instructor’s voice and hands projected onto the body. You open up viewports that enable you to see through the skin to visualize the position of the breathing tube you are inserting into the trachea. All medications you inject are measured, and you are alerted if you administer an incorrect dose—and if you make such a mistake, no one is harmed: you can “push the reset button” and try again.This is the guided learning experience provided by BodyExplorer, a next-generation medical simulator developed by a multidisciplinary team at the Simulation and Medical Technology R&D Laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The entire system, including a highly sensorized physical model of a human body and an augmented-reality projection system, can easily fit on a table in a classroom or a nurses’ break room in a hospital unit. The system demonstrates advanced simulation-based healthcare training with automated instruction, real-time feedback and round-the-clock accessibility for trainees.  At the Serious Games and Virtual Environments (SG/VE) Showcase during the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) in Orlando, BodyExplorer won the “Best in Show” award in the student project category. Douglas Nelson, Jr., a PhD student in bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, presented BodyExplorer to the judges.“We’ve been developing BodyExplorer over the past five years to help students learn about medicine, nursing, pharmacy and clinical procedures,” Nelson said. “We designed the system to make simulators easier to use for students and instructors, which seemed to impress the judges looking to the future of healthcare simulation. BodyExplorer is particularly useful because its automated instruction can allow trainees to practice without supervision while still receiving feedback on proper technique. This has the potential to provide more efficient simulation-based healthcare training by reducing the workload on educators while increasing availability of such training to students.”Using BodyExplorer’s augmented-reality (AR) visualization, students can manipulate an image projected onto the mannequin torso. Trainees can use a simple, pen-like tool to open “windows” into the underlying anatomy, revealing muscles, bones and organs, including breathing lungs and a beating heart. The trainees can also see patient vital signs or other data; for example, they can pull up an electrocardiogram (ECG) graph to see how the ECG relates to the sound and motion of the heart and how it is affected by injected drug simulants.Joseph Samosky, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt, is the originator and principal investigator of the BodyExplorer project and faculty advisor for Nelson’s PhD research. “If a student wants to explore the effects of medications on cardiac function, the student can inject simulated drugs and the system will automatically respond with changes in heart rate that can be seen, heard and visualized on the ECG displayed directly beside the beating heart,” Samosky said. “We want to maintain a focus on the patient. In BodyExplorer, the body itself becomes a tangible user interface (TUI), sensing inputs from and displaying information back to the trainee. The system enables you to interact naturally with the simulated patient and see the internal consequences of your external actions.”BodyExplorer is highly interactive. It features a novel drug-simulant recognition system that encodes an identity, or “signature,” directly in the fluid itself, so simulated drugs can be injected in a naturalistic way and automatically recognized by the system. If the trainee administers a medication too quickly, BodyExplorer may elicit a loud, painful scream. Likewise, if the trainee administers a medication that causes the heart to beat faster, BodyExplorer’s digitally-animated heart will pulse more quickly and the pounding sound of heartbeats will also quicken.John O’Donnell, professor and chair of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia joined the BodyExplorer team in 2013 as a clinical co-investigator and faculty advisor on the project. He co-chaired the IMSH conference which had the highest attendance of any international simulation conference in the world to date with more than 3,500 healthcare educators and students. O’Donnell has been assisting with the development and validation of curriculum for the system and notes that “students in healthcare training programs want and need the chance to practice their skills and get immediate feedback. BodyExplorer has the potential to revolutionize the current model of training by offering ‘just in time’ and ‘on-demand’ access to key simulation experiences.”The broadening of access for students is another key goal of the BodyExplorer project, Nelson explained. “Current healthcare simulation training is very resource intensive, requiring technicians, instructors and often specially-designed rooms. We want to bring simulation technology and training into everyday classrooms or hospitals and make it usable by students on their own without special training in simulator operation. The current BodyExplorer prototypes fit in the trunk of my car, and we would like to make commercialized models even more compact and easy to set up as we redesign them for manufacturability.”Nelson, who will complete his PhD in April, plans after his graduation to develop a newly-founded company to bring to market a commercial version of the BodyExplorer simulation system. The development of the several technologies that have been integrated into the BodyExplorer system has been principally funded by the University of Pittsburgh Departments of Anesthesiology and Bioengineering. Additional funding has been provided by the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and a Coulter Translational Research Award, as well as additional resources from the School of Nursing’s Department of Nurse Anesthesia. Follow this link to see a video of how BodyExplorer works: http://www.innovation.pitt.edu/innovations/bodyexplorer/ ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Mar

Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumnus Mark DiSilvestro with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Bioengineering

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards. This year’s recipient for the Department of Bioengineering was Mark DiSilvestro, MSBEG ’99, PhD BIOE ’00, COO of Cases By Source and President of Vista Management Consulting LLC. “Despite Bioengineering being our newest department, its alumni have had truly outstanding successes,” said Dean Holder. “Mark earned both his master’s and PhD in bioengineering from Pitt and since then has established himself in the medical device industry, first at the startup Tissue-Informatics, and later as an R&D specialist. His career has truly been interdisciplinary and is an example how an engineer can play a critical role in translational research, operations and business development.”About Mark DiSilvestroDr. Mark DiSilvestro earned both an MS and a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 and 2000, respectively. He was a member of the Musculoskeletal Research Center where he was a Whitaker Research Fellow. He earned his BS in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in 1996. DiSilvestro has built a career in the medical device industry as a technical contributor in R&D and product development, as a manager of projects and teams and as an executive responsible for all business operations. He began by working at a startup company, TissueInformatics, as a principal scientist. He worked with a team that developed a high speed imaging device for scanning histology slides and creating digital montages of tissue sections that were characterized using novel algorithms. DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson company, recruited DiSilvestro in 2001. He began with DePuy as a senior engineer in sensors and electronic technologies and was promoted first to staff engineer and then to Manager of Global Concept Development. After leaving Depuy, he went to Becton Dickinson where he developed a global project prioritization process integrated with the company’s change management process which achieved $3 million in annualized cost reductions in its first year. He continued his management role when he left Becton Dickinson to join Medin Corporation in 2008. By 2013, DiSilvestro was promoted to COO and was responsible for all operations of the business.In 2009, DiSilvestro started his own consulting company, Vista Management Consulting LLC. As president, he oversees projects ranging from performing mechanical analysis of structures for design optimization to organizational assessments and recommendations for hiring and process improvements. He was recruited to Cases By Source in 2016, and he is currently the COO. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Mark DiSilvestro and BioE Department Chair Sanjeev Shroff.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

Society for Biomaterials Awards Bioengineering Graduate Student with Honorable Mention for Outstanding Paper

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 22, 2017) … The Society for Biomaterials has selected Puneeth Shridhar, a bioengineering graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, as the recipient of an Honorable Mention Student Travel Achievement Recognition (STAR) Award. The Society’s Education and Professional Development Committee chose to recognize Shridhar for his work titled “The Rescue Stent for Non-Compressible Traumatic Hemorrhage.”The Rescue Stent is a medical device designed to manage firearm trauma in a battlefield or civilian environment. Currently, patients suffering from large vessel hemorrhaging after a chest trauma must be transported to a hybrid operating room for treatment. The process usually takes about 20 minutes. Early intervention greatly improves the outcome of the treatment, and often a matter of seconds can largely impact the patient’s health. The Rescue Stent can be placed in only four minutes. It stops the life-threatening bleeding and allows blood to continue to circulate to the patient’s organs.Shridhar is currently pursuing a second doctoral degree in the Department of Bioengineering and is advised by Youngjae Chun, assistant professor in the Departments of Industrial Engineering and Bioengineering at Pitt. He previously earned his MD from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Karnataka, India, and he works with Chun in the Medical Device Manufacturing Lab at Pitt. “In the past year, Puneeth and I have authored more than 20 research papers focused on various medical devices with critical applications to many different parts of the body,” said Chun. “He is very passionate about next-gen devices, and the STAR recognition is a very positive sign that Puneeth will be a future leader in the biomaterial arena.”The United States Department of Defense recently awarded a team from Pitt $2.5 million to develop the Rescue Stent technology. Bryan Tillman, assistant professor of vascular surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, serves as principal investigator on the project. Three professors from the Swanson School of Engineering have joined Tillman: William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; Sung Kwon Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; and Chun.    Shridhar will receive the award at the Society for Biomaterials 2017 Annual Meeting this April in Minneapolis, MN. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
14
2017

Pitt’s Bioengineering and Industrial Engineering programs move up in 2018 U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 14, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has moved up one slot among engineering programs in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools,” which will be available on newsstands April 11. The Swanson School is tied 42nd overall among university engineering programs, and 21st among all Association of American Universities (AAU) members. Two of its programs, bioengineering and industrial engineering, made significant gains over 2017. Bioengineering jumped from 18th in the nation to 12th overall, and remains at 6th among public AAU university programs. Industrial moved from 23rd to 17th overall, and from 13th to 10th among AAU publics. Other department rankings include: Chemical engineering: 33rd overall, 18th among AAU publics Civil engineering: 60th overall, 27th among AAU publics Computer engineering: 43rd overall, 20th among AAU publics Electrical engineering: 55th overall, 26th among AAU publics Materials science: 43rd overall, 22nd among AAU publics Mechanical engineering: 57th overall, 26th among AAU publics Complete rankings and information about the process can be found online in the U.S. News Grad Compass. ###

Mar
7
2017

One Step at a Time: Pitt engineering and medical programs receive NSF award to develop ultrasonic sensors for a hybrid exoskeleton

Bioengineering, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 7, 2017) … The promise of exoskeleton technology that would allow individuals with motor impairment to walk has been a challenge for decades. A major difficulty to overcome is that even though a patient is unable to control leg muscles, a powered exoskeleton could still cause muscle fatigue and potential injury. However, an award from the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program will enable researchers at the University of Pittsburgh to develop an ultrasound sensor system at the heart of a hybrid exoskeleton that utilizes both electrical nerve stimulation and external motors. Principal investigator of the three year, $400,000 award is Nitin Sharma, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Co-PI is Kang Kim, associate professor of medicine and bioengineering. The Pitt team is collaborating with researchers led by Siddhartha Sikdar, associate professor of bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering at George Mason University, who also received a $400,000 award for the CPS proposal, “Synergy: Collaborative Research: Closed-loop Hybrid Exoskeleton utilizing Wearable Ultrasound Imaging Sensors for Measuring Fatigue.”This latest funding furthers Dr. Sharma’s development of hybrid exoskeletons that combine functional electrical stimulation (FES), which uses low-level electrical currents to activate leg muscles, with powered exoskeletons, which use electric motors mounted on an external frame to move the wearer’s joints. “One of the most serious impediments to developing a human exoskeleton is determining how a person who has lost gait function knows whether his or her muscles are fatigued. An exoskeleton has no interface with a human neuromuscular system, and the patient doesn’t necessarily know if the leg muscles are tired, and that can lead to injury,” Dr. Sharma explained. “Electromyography (EMG), the current method to measure muscle fatigue, is not reliable because there is a great deal of electrical “cross-talk” between muscles and so differentiating signals in the forearm or thigh is a challenge.” To overcome the low signal-to-noise ratio of traditional EMG, Dr. Sharma partnered with Dr. Kim, whose research in ultrasound focuses on analyzing muscle fatigue. “An exoskeleton biosensor needs to be noninvasive, but systems like EMG aren’t sensitive enough to distinguish signals in complex muscle groups,” Dr. Kim said. “Ultrasound provides image-based, real-time sensing of complex physical phenomena like neuromuscular activity and fatigue. This allows Nitin’s hybrid exoskeleton to switch between joint actuators and FES, depending upon the patient’s muscle fatigue.” In addition to mating Dr. Sharma’s hybrid exoskeleton to Dr. Kim’s ultrasound sensors, the research group will develop computational algorithms for real-time sensing of muscle function and fatigue. Human subjects using a leg-extension machine will enable detailed measurement of strain rates, transition to fatigue, and full fatigue to create a novel muscle-fatigue prediction model. Future phases will allow the Pitt and George Mason researchers to develop a wearable device for patients with motor impairment. “Right now an exoskeleton combined with ultrasound sensors is just a big machine, and you don’t want to weigh down a patient with a backpack of computer systems and batteries,” Dr. Sharma said. “The translational research with George Mason will enable us to integrate a wearable ultrasound sensor with a hybrid exoskeleton, and develop a fully functional system that will aid in rehabilitation and mobility for individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries or strokes.” ### Photo above: Dr. Kim (left) with Dr. Sharma and a hybrid exoskeleton prototype in the Neuromuscular Control and Robotics Laboratory at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Feb

Feb
15
2017

An Impact on Implants

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 15, 2017) … The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering in the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.54 million R01 grant for his investigation into the immune system response to implanted medical materials.The study, “Assessing the Impact of Macrophage Polarization Upon the Success of Biomaterial Implants,” will build on Brown’s previous studies demonstrating that macrophage M1 and M2 polarization at early time points after the implantation of a biomedical material can predict long-term reactions by the host’s immune system. The information gathered by the study could significantly improve the success of biomaterial implants and minimize the negative response from the patient’s immune system, according to Brown.“Our current tests have shown that the first week of macrophage activity near the host-implant interface can predict the immune system response downstream as far as 90 days,” says Brown. “We have developed methods for modulating macrophage activity, which we will use to understand why and how these early events after implantation serve as a precursor to the lifespan of the implant. Our research is suggesting, contrary to conventional understanding of host-biomaterial interactions, macrophages can be used to encourage positive, long-term outcomes for the implant and the patient.”Macrophages are white blood cells charged with protecting the body from health threats, including foreign bodies like biomaterial implants. When an implant is placed inside the body, the macrophages recognize its presence and can exhibit either a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory response. Brown and his team have developed methods for observing, measuring and controlling these responses. They will attempt to find optimal designs for biomaterials that not only accommodate the involvement of the immune system but promote positive interaction between the body’s natural defenses and the implanted material. A variety of medical fields rely on the use of biomaterial implants to save and improve the quality of life for patients: orthopedics for joint repair, ophthalmology to restore vision, cardiovascular surgery for heart valve and artery replacement and dentistry for tooth and gum tissue support. Biomaterial implants are also common in the healing of wounds and bone fractures. Brown believes his study will provide researchers with a framework for understanding how the host’s immune system responds to implanted materials and how to use that response to develop more successful procedures for any treatment involving biomaterial implantation. Pamela Moalli, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Pitt and co-director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Female Pelvic Health; and Stephen Badylak, professor in the Department of Surgery and Deputy Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will join Brown on the study as co-investigators.About Dr. BrownDr. Bryan Brown graduated from Pitt with a BS in mechanical engineering in 2005 and a PhD in bioengineering in 2011. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Clinical Sciences at Cornell University. Brown has a secondary appointment in Pitt’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science and is a member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He is currently a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar at Magee Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh and an adjunct assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.Brown is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Society for Biomaterials, the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) and the American Urogynecologic Society. He received the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Young Investigator Award, the TERMIS Educator Award and the Carnegie Science Award. Brown served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and for the Carnegie Science Awards. He is on the editorial board of Cells, Tissues, and Organs and Current Pathobiology Reports.The Brown Laboratory works to couple mechanistic understanding of the host inflammatory response in injury and disease with the development of context-dependent biomaterials for regenerative medicine strategies. With emphasis on clinical applications in which few effective solutions currently exist, the Brown Laboratory focuses on unmet needs in women’s health. Recent areas of significant interest are temporomandibular joint disease and pelvic organ prolapse. The Laboratory has received funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Aging, National Institute of General Medical Science, Office of Research on Women’s Health and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Feb
6
2017

A Bridge to Breathing

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (February 6, 2017) … Acute and chronic lung diseases are the most life-threatening causes of hospitalization and death among young children. This is especially true for children suffering from cystic fibrosis. The path to recovery often leads to a lung transplant, but the wait list for pediatric patients can last for months and require lengthy hospital stays anchored to large mechanical ventilators. To safely bridge the time between diagnosis and transplant while allowing patient mobility, a research team led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, working with the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is developing a compact respiratory assist device for children. The Pittsburgh Pediatric Ambulatory Lung (P-PAL) would replace traditional oxygenation methods as a bridge to transplant or recovery in children with lung failure.The proposal, “Ambulatory Assist Lung for Children,” was the recipient of a four-year, $2,357,508 R01 award from the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. Program Director/Principal Investigator is William J. Federspiel, Professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering. Co-PIs are William R. Wagner, Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Professor of Surgery, Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering at Pitt; and Peter D. Wearden, congenital cardiothoracic surgeon and Department Chair, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Cardiovascular Services at the Nemours Children's Health System, Orlando, Florida.“Standard existing therapy not only restricts children’s mobility in the hospital but can also cause lung damage and/or worsening of the child’s health,” Dr. Federspiel explains. “Our new approach allows the patient’s lungs to rest and heal, and if the child is a candidate for lung transplantation, the mobility afforded by the P-PAL will lead to better post-transplant outcomes.”One of P-PAL’s most innovative features is that it will allow young patients to remain mobile in the hospital while under treatment or awaiting transplant. “Pediatric patients can still be active children, and at young ages you don’t want to restrict them to a hospital bed,” Dr. Wagner said. “The P-PAL is a self-contained, minimally-invasive device that can provide children with mobility even while awaiting a transplant.”Co-investigators on the award include Jonathan D’Cunha, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Pitt, and Greg W. Burgreen, Associate Research Professor at the Mississippi State University Bagley College of Engineering. ### Illustration at top: Patient ambulation with the P-PAL (Randal McKenzie Illustrations)

Jan

Jan
30
2017

Wearing a New Coat: Forbes Names Two Pitt Engineering Alumni “30 Under 30” in Manufacturing & Industry

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH, PA (January 30, 2017) … With the new year comes a new class of honorees for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 ranking of young innovators and visionaries, and this year University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering alumni Noah Snyder and Kasey Catt were recognized for their work as founders of a coating and surface treatment startup. However, as with most entrepreneurs, they found that the trials and tribulations to bring one idea to fruition would actually serve as a lesson to bring a more successful product to market. The idea for their company, Interphase Materials, started while Snyder and Catt were doctoral candidates in Pitt’s bioengineering program. They worked in the Neural Tissue Engineering Lab (NTE Lab) under advisor Tracy Cui, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at Pitt. “At the NTE Lab we investigate interactions between neural tissue and smart biomaterials,” explains Cui. “We research new tools to improve the performance of neural recording devices when implanted in tissue. Noah and Kasey, who we are proud to have as lab alumni, had a great impact on our research, but they had aspirations to take concepts from the lab and apply them directly to patients or other people in need.”After participation in Pitt’s Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program, Snyder caught the entrepreneurial bug. He invited Catt to join him in the Innovation Institute’s Startup Pittblitz—a weekend-long dash for Pitt students to take a new business or product and make it ready to pitch to investors by Sunday afternoon. The two came up with an idea to apply a technology from their lab to the development of anti-microbial brain implants.“The scientific approach of collecting lots of data and analyzing every detail differs greatly from the entrepreneurial mentality,” says Snyder. “When I started participating in some of the entrepreneurial programs offered at Pitt, I knew I wanted to take what we were working on in the lab and find a way to make it marketable, even if it meant making a lot of assumptions and discovering new things along the way.”Their experience with Pittblitz encouraged them to enter the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, an annual startup competition helping Pitt students commercialize their ideas. Snyder and Catt tweaked their business plan to focus on dental implants and won the competition’s $25,000 top prize. They then entered Blast Furnace, a business accelerator for Pitt students, and won another first prize at the Wells Competition, both of which are offered by the Innovation Institute. At this time, they decided to make a critical pivot to the business. “We realized registering dental implants with the Food and Drug Administration would be a long and difficult process. We also didn’t want to give away parts of the company to investors, so we knew we had to come up with something that would be self-sustaining in a short period of time. We wanted to make an impact on the world in two years, not 20,” says Snyder.Snyder and Catt believed the technology behind the anti-microbial implants could also be used to develop a biochemical additive to prevent things like algae, mold and fungus from contaminating a wide variety of surfaces. They turned their eyes toward industry solutions and were accepted into Alphalab Gear, an early-stage seed investment fund supported by the state. They officially launched Interphase Materials with Snyder serving as CEO and president and Catt as the CTO.From Inside the Brain to Outside the BoxInterphase Materials began promoting an industrial coating that protected pipelines, bridges and boats from contamination by marine life. According to Snyder, they quickly found a large potential market in tube and pipe coatings used for cooling power plants. They attracted the attention of construction and manufacturing companies, but their reputation didn’t stop there. The United States Navy offered them a contract to develop coating solutions for nuclear submarines. Although they are trying to balance all of the possibilities for Interphase Materials with a focused business model, Snyder says he’s happy where the business is right now—in terms of both growth and geographical location.“Kasey and I both have roots in western Pennsylvania, and we wanted to keep the company in the region,” explains Snyder. “Pittsburgh is one of the best places to be for the coating industry. PPG Industries, the largest coating company in the world, is headquartered here. Four of the top five largest coating companies internationally are located in Pennsylvania and Ohio. There is a huge talent pool. It’s like the Silicon Valley of advanced materials.”The Forbes 30 Under 30 list comprises 20 industries, ranging from science and technology to art and entertainment, and seeks to “embrace the optimism, inventiveness and boldness of youth.” Tasked with investigating more than 15,000 applicants, a team of 80 judges and 50 staff reporters and editors made the final decisions about the honorees. “After submitting the application to Forbes, I noticed my LinkedIn profile was getting a lot more views by people associated with the magazine,” Snyder says. “I think they were initially interested in us because we started out with brain implants and ended up working on nuclear subs, but all of the information about our business online helped. The University did a good job of supporting us and showcasing us along the way, which also helped us to realize that we could succeed. A lot of people were counting on us at Pitt. Now we have a whole new set of expectations we want to live up to.”Snyder and Catt continue to collaborate with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh on the development of medical implants that are more compatible with the body and the immune system; however, their primary focus, Snyder admits, is the success of Interphase Materials. ### Photo above: Noah Snyder (left) and Kasey Catt.
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jan
30
2017

Swanson School well-represented among recipients of 2017 Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds from the Innovation Institute

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (January 30, 2017) ... The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute has awarded $140,000 to four Pitt Innovator teams to help them move their discoveries towards commercialization, where they can make a positive impact on society. The Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds were established to provide support for promising early-stage Pitt innovations to assist in reducing the technical and/or market risk associated with the innovations and make them more attractive to investors or potential licensees. One of the paths for identifying funding opportunities is through a request for proposal program that was launched in November of 2016 and recently culminated in these awards. “We are thrilled to be able to provide these funds to entrepreneurial Pitt faculty and graduate students to help expedite their commercialization journey,” said Marc Malandro, Founding Director of the Innovation Institute. “Often the most difficult hurdle to climb for commercializing University research is providing so-called ‘gap’ funding that can bridge the space between a promising idea and a marketable product.” The teams were selected by a panel of judges from a pool of two dozen applicants that was narrowed into a group of 10 finalists. The judges included several members of the region’s innovation and entrepreneurship community. They included: Nehal Bhojak – Director of Innovation, Idea Foundry Malcolm Handelsman – President, Pittsburgh Chapter, Keiretsu Forum Jim Jordan – President, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Andy Kuzneski – President, Kuzneski Financial Group Rich Lunak – President & CEO, InnovationWorks Mike Stubler — Managing Director, Draper Triangle Ventures “There were an impressive array of technologies presented by the finalists for the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds. The business applications ranged from novel technologies for cancer therapy and biosensors for congestive heart failure to next generation LED displays and water desalination solutions.  The projects demonstrate not only the breadth of the University of Pittsburgh’s research prowess, but also the excellent coaching and preparation the innovators received from Pitt’s Innovation Institute,” Lunak said. Two awards of $35,000 each were made for innovations with a one-to-one matching partner: Thermoresponsive Hydrogel for Orbital Volume Augmentation Morgan Fedorchak, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Chemical Engineering and Clinical and Translational Science and Jenny Yu, Assistant Professor and Vice Chair, Clinical Operations Department of Ophthalmology, have discovered a non-degradable hydrogel material that can be injected into the orbit of the eye following ocular trauma or as a treatment for genetic eye disorders. The material can also be used to administer anti-inflammatory or antibiotic medications. The funding will be used to provide proof-of-concept studies. Data from the successful completion of the studies will better position the innovation for application to the Department of Defense for funding to explore the therapeutic potential of the technology. Matching funds will come from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Military Medicine Research, whose mission is to address combat-related injuries. Body Explorer: Autonomous Simulated Patient Douglas Nelson Jr. doctoral candidate in the Department of Bioengineering, John O’Donnell, Professor & Chair Department of Nurse Anesthesia, and Joseph Samosky, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering have developed a mannequin medical simulator with projected augmented reality for training medical professionals in anatomy, physiology and clinical procedures. The team has previously participated in the Coulter Translational Partners II program and the Idea Foundry’s Science Accelerator to advance prototype development and usability testing. The new funding will assist in improving the user interface and expanding the BodyExplorer curriculum modules. Click here to see a video describing their invention. Idea Foundry is providing 1:1 matching cash support, in addition to $25,000 of additional in-kind support to assist in securing additional investment. Two projects received $35,000 awards without a matching requirement. Nano-LED Technology for Microdisplays Hong Koo Kim, Bell of PA/Bell Atlantic Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and doctoral student Daud Hasan Emon have developed nano LED structures that have lower energy costs and longer battery life than existing LED technology. Applications include mobile device displays and other micro-display devices. The new funding will support the advancement of prototypes to demonstrate the breadth of the optimal applications. Reactive Extraction of Water: Desalination Without Membranes or Distillation Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemical Engineering, has developed a chemical method for desalinating water that requires less energy than the longstanding existing methods such as reverse osmosis or flash distillation. The award will fund testing to validate the technology. Malandro said the Innovation Institute is working with those teams not chosen in this funding round to receive other education and funding opportunities to advance their discoveries. The Pitt Ventures Gear Program is an NSF I-Corps Site participant that provides an initial grant of $3,000 for teams to conduct customer discovery and value proposition activities. At the conclusion of each six-week First Gear cohort, teams pitch their ideas for the opportunity to receive from $5,000 to $20,000 from the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds program. The teams are also eligible to apply for a second round of NSF funding of up to $50,000 from the national I-Corps program. The next First Gear cohort begins February 14, 2017. Applications are due February 1. Click here to learn more and apply. ###
Mike Yeomans, Marketing & Special Events Manager, Innovation Institute
Jan
10
2017

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards four novel biomedical devices with $77,500 total Round-2 2016 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (January 10, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $77,500 to four research groups through its 2016 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new technology for treatment of diabetes, a medical device for emergency intubation, an innovative method for bone regeneration, and a novel approach for implementing vascular bypass grafts. CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE), supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. CMI leadership evaluates proposals based on scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare. “This is our fifth year of pilot funding, and our leadership team could not be more excited with the breadth and depth of this round’s awardees,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “This early-stage interdisciplinary research helps to develop highly specific biomedical technologies through a proven strategy of linking UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.” AWARD 1: Intrapancreatic Lipid Nanoparticles to Treat DiabetesAward for further development and testing of use of lipid nanoparticle technology for the induction of α-to-β-cell transdifferentiation to treat diabetes. George Gittes, MDDepartment of Surgery University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Kathryn Whitehead, PhDDepartment of Chemical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University (Secondary appointment at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine) AWARD 2: The Esophocclude - Medical Device for temporary occlusion of the esophagus in patients requiring emergent intubationContinuation award for further refinement of the Esophocclude Medical Device using human cadaver testing to simulate emergency intubation.Philip Carullo, MDResident, PGY-1 Department of Anesthesiology University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Youngjae Chun, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Industrial Engineering Department of Bioengineering (Secondary) University of Pittsburgh AWARD 3: RegenMatrix - Collagen-mimetic Bioactive Hydrogels for Bone RegenerationContinuation award for fully automating the hydrogel fabrication process, for animal studies and for fine-tuning related innovations. Shilpa Sant, PhDAssistant Professor Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Department of Bioengineering University of Pittsburgh Akhil Patel, MSGraduate Student Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences University of Pittsburgh Yadong Wang, PhDProfessor Department of Bioengineering University of Pittsburgh Sachin Velankar, PhDAssociate Professor Department of Chemical Engineering University of Pittsburgh Charles Sfeir, DDS, PhDAssociate Professor Department of Oral Biology University of Pittsburgh AWARD 4: TopoGraft 2.0 - Anti-platelet surfaces for bypass grafts and artificial hearts using topo-graphic surface actuationContinuation award for in-vivo validating of results and developing a new approach for topographic actuation of the inner lumen of synthetic bypass grafts. Sachin Velankar, PhDDepartment of Chemical Engineering University of Pittsburgh Luka Pocivavsak, MD, PhDDepartment of Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Edith Tzeng, MD Department of Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Robert Kormos, MD Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center About the Center for Medical Innovation The Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2011 to promote the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; to educate the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and to facilitate the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services. Over 50 early-stage projects have been supported by CMI with a total investment of over $900,000 since inception. ###
Author: Yash P. Mokashi, Fellow, Center for Medical Innovation
Jan
9
2017

PITT BIOE WELCOMES THREE NEW FACULTY MEMBERS

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (January 9, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has announced that Jonathan Vande Geest, Mark Gartner and Warren Ruder have joined its faculty in the Department of Bioengineering. Vande Geest formerly taught at the University of Arizona, and Ruder taught at Virginia Tech. Gartner will be moving from part-time to full-time status within Pitt.“All three of our new faculty members in the Bioengineering Department have proven to be outstanding educators with an excellent mix of experiences inside and outside of the classroom to aid them in teaching our students,” said Sanjeev Shroff, Distinguished Professor and Gerald McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering at Pitt. Jonathan Vande GeestDr. Vande Geest received his BS in biomedical engineering from the University of Iowa in 2000 and his PhD in bioengineering from Pitt in 2005. After graduation, Vande Geest began his career at the University of Arizona in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2009. Vande Geest held positions as an assistant and associate professor while at the University of Arizona.In Arizona, Vande Geest led the Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory (STBL), which aims to develop and utilize novel experimental computational bioengineering approaches to study the structure function relationships of soft tissues in human growth, remodeling and disease. The STBL has also devoted significant effort to the development of novel endovascular medical devices. Advances in bioengineering are established in the STBL by seamlessly bringing together state of the art techniques in tissue fabrication, nonlinear optical microscopy, finite element modeling and cell mechanobiology. Current projects in the STBL are focused on neurodegenerative diseases, including primary open angle glaucoma and vocal fold paralysis, as well as the development of a compliance matched tissue engineered vascular graft.Vande Geest is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Physiological Society. Vande Geest’s prior National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award focused on the development of a novel smart polymer based patient specific endovascular device for treating abdominal aortic aneurysms. His laboratory has been funded by more than $4 million in extramural grants from the National Institutes of Health, NSF, AHA and various industrial partners. In 2013, Vande Geest was awarded the Y. C. Fung Young Investigator Award—a society wide medal awarded by the Bioengineering Division of ASME to recognize those demonstrating significant potential to make substantial contributions to the field of bioengineering. In 2015, he became chair of the ASME Bioengineering Division Solids Technical Committee and was selected as a member of the Western States Affiliates Research Committee for AHA. He also currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering.Mark GartnerDr. Gartner received his PhD in bioengineering and his ME degree in mechanical and biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He also earned an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship and his BS in mechanical engineering from Pitt. Beginning his career in medical product design and development, Gartner worked as a clinical bioengineer in the mechanical circulatory support program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. His work included clinical care of patients supported by various types of mechanical circulatory support devices, including total artificial heart and ventricular assist devices. He later designed several types of integrated pump-oxygenator devices and became the director of the Pittsburgh chronic artificial lung program. Gartner’s direct clinical experiences with advanced medical technologies encouraged his interest in the unique design requirements of medical products, and he co-founded Ension, Inc., in 2001. He oversees several medical product development initiatives at Ension, including serving as principal investigator on grants and contracts, most notably, the National Institute of Health’s recent Pumps for Kids, Neonate and Infants (PumpKIN) effort.Gartner developed, and has since taught, the Senior Design course in Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering. The two-semester capstone course requires bioengineering students to synthesize and extend principles from prior coursework toward the design or redesign of medical products. He remains particularly interested in cross disciplinary, non-traditional engineering education opportunities. Gartner received the Outstanding Teaching award from the Department of Bioengineering in 2011 and the Outstanding Part-time Instructor award from the Swanson School in 2015. He has more than 20 years of teaching experience.Warren RuderDr. Ruder graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a BS in civil and environmental engineering in 2002. He completed his MS in mechanical engineering and his PhD in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Ruder was also part of the inaugural “Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine” class, which is a joint program between Pitt and CMU that receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and aims to provide training in biomechanical engineering principles and biology to students pursuing doctoral degrees in bioengineering.His work focuses on merging biomechanical systems and the microscale and nanoscale with engineering living cells and smart material systems, the latter of which involves synthetic biology. Over the years his research has included: two years of research on mammalian cell signal transduction in the laboratory of Professor Aldebaran Hofer at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Surgery; one month in the field in Antarctica studying organismal biomechanics and responses to ice encapsulation (a field of ecological mechanics); and two and a half years as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor James Collins, at Boston University, Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Ruder left his position as an assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech to teach at Pitt as a Bioengineering Assistant Professor. For the past four years at Virginia Tech, Ruder directed the “Engineered Living Systems Laboratory,” a group focused on merging synthetic biology with biomimetic systems. He has published 20 archival papers in journals such as Science, PNAS, Lab-on-a-Chip and Scientific Reports, and his group’s work has been highlighted in Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Wired (UK). The student honor society in his department at Virginia Tech selected Ruder as his department’s “Faculty Member of the Year” in 2014. While at Pitt, Ruder will be applying his work to medical technologies and cures for disease. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer