In the news / Biomedical Engineering

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Researchers at University of Arizona have developed a device used to study the link between brain behavior and vocalization. Using new methods of antenna design and optimized electronics, Jokubas Ausra, a biomedical engineering doctoral student in the lab of BIO5 member Dr. Philpp Gutruf, was able to shrink the devices dramatically compared to existing versions, to about a third of the size of a dime and as thin as a sheet of paper. Co-senior author on the study and also a BIO5 member, Dr. Julie Miller, is helping the team with the goal to expand device capabilities to also record neuron activity.
 
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COVID-19 has led Arizona researchers, like UArizona Optical Sciences assistant professor and BIO5 member Dr. Judith Su to develop new technologies. Dr. Su created the FLOWER handheld device, which would allow patients to test themselves, detect viruses like COVID-19, and better test the use of drugs and treatments in patients.
 
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Researchers at the University of Arizona are developing a COVID-19 testing method that uses a smartphone microscope to analyze saliva samples and deliver results in about 10 minutes. The UArizona research team, led by biomedical engineering professor and BIO5 member Dr. Jeong-Yeol Yoon, aims to combine the speed of existing nasal swab antigen tests with the high accuracy of nasal swab PCR. The method will be used in conjunction with the saline swish-gargle test developed by Dr. Michael Worobey, head of the UArizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and associate director of the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute.
 
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Director of the BIO5 Institute Dr. Jennifer Barton has been named the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair of the College of Engineering. As chair, Barton will be responsible for advancing biotechnological research and education, fostering collaborations, promoting and working with diverse teams, and providing national leadership in the field of bioengineering to meet societal needs.
 
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Dr. Judith Su runs the UArizona Little Sensor Lab, where researchers are working to sense tiny amounts – down to a single molecule – of everything from doping agents to biomarkers for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Lyme disease and, yes, even COVID-19. Dr. Su, biomedical engineering and optical sciences professor and a member of the BIO5 Institute, has received a $1.82 million, five-year Maximizing Investigators' Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
 
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Innovative minds spanning several disciplines created partnerships to advance research and impact the lives of Arizonans at the second annual BIO5/BIOSA Faculty Industry Networking Event.
 
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Harnessing the power of technology, the BIO5 Institute will virtually connect University of Arizona faculty and researchers with representatives from biotech, biomedical, and life science companies at the FINE event on Thursday, August 13, 2020.
 
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A record number of Tech Launch Arizona startups at UArizona were reported during FY2020. This was made possible through the innovations from 19 different startups by teams of world-class entrepreneurial researchers, including BIO5 members Drs. Minying Cai, David Harris, Victor Hruby, Doug Loy, Marty Pagel, Sairam Parthasarathy, Benjamin Renquist, Marvin Slepian, and Russell Witte.
 
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A respiratory-assist device (RAD) co-created by Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy, UArizona COM-T Pulmonary/Allergy division chief and BIO5 member, has been given a new use in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The device was originally developed for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, but now Dr. Parthasarathy's team is working to get the invention to front-line workers battling COVID-19.
 
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Ricky Cordova, former student with the KEYS Research Internship and current research specialist in the lab of BIO5 director, Dr. Jennifer Barton, details how his experiences as a student shaped his career path and ambitions in research. The invaluable lessons about failure and perseverance Cordova learned throughout the internship ultimately led him back to UArizona where he now serves as a KEYS mentor.
 
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Dr. Urs Utzinger, the head of the UArizona Department of Biomedical Engineering undergraduate affairs and BIO5 member, sent 42 learning kits to his students during the Spring 2020 semester after COVID-19 concerns caused the University to move fully online. The kits contained micro controllers, motors, and other mechanical parts for the students to assemble, test, and calibrate from home. Dr. Utzinger sees that this experience of moving the course online prepared him for any future remote instruction.
 
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This semester the UArizona opened the new Peter and Nancy Salter Medical Device Design Lab for undergraduate students majoring in biomedical engineering and other engineering fields. Dr. Philipp Gutruf, a UArizona assistant professor of biomedical engineering and BIO5 member, discusses the educational value of giving students access to state of the art equipment that can help them manufacture and design circuit boards or custom enclosures for wearable devices.
 
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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the world are running short on personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators – masks that, unlike surgical masks, fit tightly around the face and are capable of filtering out 95% of airborne particles. A group of UArizona researchers, including Dr. Doug Loy, a Department of Materials Science and Engineering professor and BIO5 member, is responding to the shortage by designing, 3D printing, and testing masks for health care workers.
 
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BIO5 director and UArizona Biomedical Engineering professor Dr. Jennifer Barton recently spoke with SPIE - the international society for optics and photonics, where she serves at the co-chair for their BiOS program. During their conversation, Dr. Barton gave a conceptual tour of the labs of Drs. Clara Curiel, Philipp Gutruf, D.K. Kang, and Judy Su, and discussed how their research is impacting bioscience fields.
 
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Reglagene, a biotech start-up led by BIO5 members Drs. Laurence Hurley and Vijay Gokhale, placed second in the RESI Innovation Challenge during JPM Week in San Francisco. The RESI Challenge featured 30 early stage life science companies from around the world and is designed to help startups refine their business plan, improve go-to-market strategies and increase investor readiness.
 
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Dr. John Szivek, BIO5 faculty member and UArizona professor of engineering, uses 3D printing to help broken bones regrow and heal. A group of students working on a 2020 Honeywell-sponsored senior capstone project will use similar 3D printing techniques to custom build a plate with temperature control capabilities to investigate how surface temperature impacts construction.
 
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UArizona Biomedical Engineering professor and director of the BIO5 Institute Dr. Jennifer Barton, gives a look into a day in her life. Dr. Barton discusses her academic and professional journey, how and why she began conducting her current research, and the importance of women becoming increasingly involved in engineering and STEM fields.
 
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With funds from the National Institute of Health, Dr. Nathan Cherrington, UArizona College of Pharmacy Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and BIO5 member, has created a non-invasive diagnostic to determine if someone has Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a chronic liver disease that irregulates the function of the liver and affects an estimated 30 to 50 million patients, with only around 300,000 of them being properly diagnosed. Currently, the only diagnosis for NASH includes a painful liver biopsy, which can result in heavy blood loss.