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Marian McCord Selected as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Natural Resources

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Marian McCord on her recent appointment as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Natural Resources! Dr. McCord not only holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry, and Science in the College of Textiles, but also she is the Director of the Global Health Initiative in the Office of International Affairs. Over the past twenty years, she has built an impressive portfolio that unites disciplines to improve human health and wellness through novel textiles that prevent and treat disease.

Dr. McCord was selected as Associate Dean due to her creativity, her energy, and her genuine appreciation of the power of collaboration. These qualities, coupled with an outstanding record of coordinating and leading interdisciplinary teams of scientists, will help her increase both the impact and number of research collaborations stemming from the College of Natural Resources. Her commitment to team science and to public health will serve her well within NC State’s College of Natural Resources.

Zhen Gu Published in Angewandte Chemie, Featured on UNC Healthcare News

A paper from Dr. Zhen Gu’s lab, authored by Dr. Ran Mo, was recently published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. The paper, “Enhanced Anticancer Efficiancy by ATP-Mediated Liposomal Drug Delivery,” is one of the latest publications showcasing the group's work to develop a targeted drug delivery system to treat cancer.  The system involves smuggling an anti-cancer drug inside cancer cells using ATP before triggering its release inside the cell, thus increasing the efficacy of the drug and localizing treatment of the cancer. To deliver the drug, the researchers are using lipid-based nanocapsules that are already being used in other clinical applications, putting them closer to the clinic and real-world use. Dr. Gu notes that the work is in the same vein as earlier anti-cancer drug-delivery work his lab has undertaken, but it contains a key difference: the liposome-based technique allows the researchers to introduce additional ATP into the cancer cell, releasing the drug more rapidly. In a mouse model, the new technique has been shown to significantly decrease the size of breast cancer tumors compared to a treatment that uses the same drug without nanoscale liposomes.
To read more about how this exciting technique works, take a look at the feature by Matt Shipman on the Newsroom for UNC Health Care, or read the entire paper in Angewandte Chemie.

Eric Whitmire Wins College of Engineering Scholarship Achievement Award

Congratulations to Eric Whitmire, one of Biomedical Engineering’s Class of 2014 undergraduates, who has been honored with an Engineering Scholarship Achievement Award by the College of Engineering at NC State. As a double major in Computer Science, Eric hopes to attend graduate school to study ubiquitous computing to find new ways to blend technology with every-day life. He’s also interested in artificial intelligence, computer vision, and brain-computer interfaces. Whitmire was a Park Scholar at NC State, received a Barry Goldwater Fellowship in 2013, and also won a National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship.

Nancy Allbritton and Paul Armistead Win University Cancer Research Fund Innovation Award

The Lineberger Cancer Center’s University Cancer Research Fund has selected a proposal from Nancy Allbritton and Paul Armistead for one of its Innovation Awards! The collaboration plans to use microwell based live-cell arrays developed in Dr. Allbritton’s lab to screen, select, and isolate T-cells that are cytotoxic against a patient’s own leukemia blasts. If the work proves to be successful, this strategy could lead to personalized adoptive cellular therapy for the treatment of leukemia.

Reviewers noted that the proposal’s strength comes not only from its innovative approach, but also from the combination of biomedical engineering expertise with cancer research expertise. The Lineberger Cancer Center received 34 proposals for this round of Innovation Awards; six projects have been chosen for funding. Their work begins August 1, 2014 and will run until June 30, 2016.
Congratulations to both Dr. Allbritton and Dr. Armistead on the receipt of this selective award!

Jin Di Wins Multiple Awards and is Featured on the Cover of Advanced Healthcare Materials!

BME Ph.D. student Jin Di’s outstanding work with Dr. Zhen Gu has been not only recognized with multiple awards but has also been selected as a front cover for Advanced Healthcare Materials. Her work, entitled “Ultrasound-Triggered Regulation of Blood Glucose Levels Using Injectible Nano-Network,” is part of the ongoing focus of the Gu Lab to revolutionize the way that diabetic patients manage their disease. Jin and her coworkers reported the integration of an injectable formulation with a focused ultrasound system (FUS) which can remotely regulate insulin release both in vitro and in vivo. Serving as a synthetic insulin reservoir, the formulation consisting of adhesive biodegradable nanoparticles promotes insulin release upon FUS triggers in a pulsatile, remote and non-invasive control manner.

This excellent work has earned Ms. Di many awards, including the student travel award from the 14th International Symposium for Therapeutic Ultrasound, Best Oral Presentation at this year’s UNC University Research Day, and the Leaf Huang Research Award (Best Poster Presentation) at the 8th Annual Chapel Hill Pharmaceutical Science Conference. Congratulations to Jin on all of her awards as well as the feature on the cover of Advanced Healthcare Materials!

Josie Bodle Wins Doctoral Dissertation Completion Award

Josie Bodle, a doctoral student working in Dr. Elizabeth Loboa’s Cell Mechanics Laboratory, has recently been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Completion Award. The award, which runs from July 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014, will allow Ms. Bodle to focus completely on finishing her dissertation. The Doctoral Dissertation Completion Awards are awarded through the Graduate School at NC State and are designed to encourage timely completion of doctoral dissertations by giving students the monetary ability to shift their focus from research to writing. Ms. Bodle’s research involves understanding the role of primary cilia in adipose stem cell differentiation to optimize their use in tissue replacement therapies. Congratulations to Josie for this opportunity to finish an exceptional doctoral dissertation!

Stephen Tuin Wins Best Presentation Award at Spring Nonwovens Industrial Advisory Board Meeting

Stephen Tuin, a Ph.D. student working in Dr. Elizabeth Loboa’s Cell Mechanics Laboratory, has won Best Presentation at the spring 2014 meeting of the Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center’s Industrial Advisory Board! Stephen’s presentation “Interconnected Micropores in Hollow Nonwoven Fibers,” also won the Technical Merit Award from the same board during their fall 2013 meeting. Congratulations to Mr. Tuin on this recognition of excellence from industry professionals!

Fran Ligler Inducted as AAAS Fellow

This February, BME core faculty member Fran Ligler was inducted as a Fellow of the American Association of Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago. AAAS elevates members to the rank of Fellow for their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Dr. Ligler was recognized for creating biosensor systems and fostering careers in interdisciplinary science and engineering.

Founded in 1848, AAAS includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science serving 10 million people. AAAS is the publisher of the journal Science, among other journals, and began awarding the distinction of Fellow in 1874.

Please join us in offering Professor Ligler your warmest congratulations for this appropriately-bestowed honor!

Drs. Loboa and Mohiti-Asli Win $50k NC TraCS Pilot Program Grant!

Congratulations to both Dr. Elizabeth Loboa and Dr. Mahsa Mohiti-Asli on their recent NC TraCS Award! Their proposal, entitled “Biocompatible, Biodegradable Controlled Release Smart Bandages for Regenerating Skin and Healing Infected Wounds,” will continue the Cell Mechanics Laboratory’s work investigating smart bandages for improved wound care. The $50k Pilot Grant is scheduled to begin September 1st of this year; it is the second NC TraCS Grant that Dr. Loboa’s lab has received.

NC TraCS, or The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, administers the Pilot Program that aims to facilitate the transfer of innovative research findings from labs into clinics. NC TraCS is the integrated home of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program at UNC, which is funded through the National Institutes of Health. The Pilot Program focuses on comparative effectiveness research and transformative technologies.

To see the full list of winners, take a look at the announcement from NC TraCS.

Ryan Gessner and Nicholas Dobes Win Carolina KickStart Innovation Fellowships

Carolina KickStart has selected two winners for its Innovation Fellowship program—Dr. Ryan Gessner and Dr. Nicholas Dobes, both of whom have ties to our own Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering! The Innovation Fellowships are designed to enable the winners to work full-time for UNC spinout companies in need of technical and scientific expertise. Ryan Gessner, a recent Ph.D. graduate coming from Paul Dayton’s Lab, will work for SonoVol, and Nicholas Dobes, a recent Ph.D. student coming out of Dr. Nancy Allbritton’s lab, will work for Cell Microsystems.

CarolinaKickstart is a part of the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), and it is particularly involved in helping UNC spinout companies achieve success.

Ryan Gessner’s thoughts on UNC and innovation were quoted in the Carolina KickStart press release:  “UNC is becoming a great place for small companies. For hundreds of years, universities were exclusively for the pursuit of academic endeavors. It was very rare that companies would not only emerge from, but also operate within the walls of the ivory tower. UNC is definitely ahead of the curve in that respect. The people at Carolina KickStart know about business and about starting companies, so being formally plugged into that network of entrepreneurs and business people will be great for the growth of our company.”

Congratulations to both Dr. Dobes and Dr. Gessner on their Innovation Fellowships! To read more, see the Carolina KickStart press release.

Senior Design Team “Vascular Visionaries” Win NCEES Engineering Award!

Congratulations to the Vascular Visionaries, a team of undergraduate students from Dr. Andrew DiMeo’s senior design class, on their NCEES Engineering Award for Connecting Professional Practice and Education! The team was one of five selected for awards in a national competition by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

NCEES recognized the Vascular Visionaries for their development of a novel ointment to aid in placing IVs. The ointment helps paramedics to visualize vasculature by both changing the color of blood and increasing the size of veins suitable for IV placement. This innovative solution would help EMTs and other medical professionals reduce the failure rate of initial IV placement, currently estimated at 28%. With over one quarter of IVs failing to be established correctly, typically due to lack of visualization of the vasculature, patients are exposed to multiple needle sticks, discomfort, an increased risk of infection, and delays in medical treatment.

Vascular Visionaries is comprised of Jordan Hjelmquist, Shannon Robinson, Colleen McGuire, Daniel Long, and Michael Baporis. Congratulations again to the entire team on this well-deserved recognition and award.

To see all the departments selected for NCEES awards, please see the NCEES winners page, which links to PDFs with detailed information about each of the five winners.

BME senior design team from UNC selected as finalists in national student design competition

Congratulations to UNC senior design team members Lydia Hatfield, Mae-Lyn Leonard, Will James, and Brian Castro. Their project, A Fighting Bid, has been selected as one of six finalists in the 2014 National Student Design Competition sponsored by RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America).

As part of their senior design course, these students worked with a young girl who has a spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair for mobility. When it's "circle time" in her kindergarten classroom, an aide has to pick her up to transfer to the floor to sit with her classmates. The aide then has to pick her up again when it's time to transfer back to her wheelchair. The little girl wanted to do these transfers independently, so the students designed and built a set of steps that slides out from underneath her wheelchair. The kindergartener can scoot down the steps independently, one at a time, to reach the floor, and push herself back up the steps back to re-enter her wheelchair.

As one of the competition finalists, the students win a free trip to Indianapolis in June to present their project at the RESNA Annual Conference.

Dr. Loboa's work with silver ion-releasing nanofibrous scaffolds featured in NY Times Blog

Dr. Loboa's experiences with and research into silver have been featured in an article by Deborah Blum for the NY Times Blog. In the article, "Silver Too Small to See, but Everywhere You Look," Blum discusses both the benefits of utilizing silver as an antimicrobial substance as well as the potential negative side-effects associated with silver nanoparticles (such as their apparent ability to cross the blood-brain barrier). While silver as a substance has been studied for centuries, it acts differently in nanoparticle form, which scientists are just beginning to investigate. Dr. Loboa's work integrating silver into a scaffold of microscopic fibers that can be inserted into a wound to encourage tissue growth is featured promininetly in the article.

To read the full piece, please see the NY Times Blog.

Paul Dayton and Xiaoning Jiang win 2015 NC State Chancellor's Innovation Fund Award

Congratulations to Drs. Dayton and Jiang on their recent award from NC State's Chancellor's Innovation Fund! The Chancellor's Innovation Fund, established in 2010, is designed to help innovators translate their ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace. The funded project, "In-vivo Evaluation of Multi-Frequency Ultrasound Transducers for Intravascular Applications" is led by Dr. Xiaoning Jiang, an Associate Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State, and Dr. Paul Dayton, a core BME faculty member. This award will continue the support for the collaboration to develop acoustic angiography, an innovative biomedical imaging system that is able to identify vulnerable arterial plaque.

Professor Fran Ligler Awarded Honorary Doctorate by the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece

BME core faculty member Fran Ligler has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece in Athens on April 4. The university awarded Dr. Ligler the honorary degree “in recognition of her outstanding lifetime achievements in science.”  The Agricultural University of Athens is the third oldest University in Greece and the oldest with a program in Agricultural Science.

Above, Dr. Ligler is depicted with the Rector and Deans of the Agricultural University of Athens at the conclusion of the honorary doctorate ceremony. During the ceremony she presented an inaugural lecture on “Research and Development in the 21st Century—Crossing the Disciplines.”

Please join all of BME in congratulating Dr. Ligler on this honor!

Dr. Andrew Tucker Featured on UNC’s Newsroom for his Doctoral Work with Mammographic Imaging

The Newsroom, the news outlet for UNC Health Care and School of Medicine, recently showcased Dr. Andrew Tucker’s doctoral work with mammographic imaging. Dr. Tucker, who defended his dissertation late this February, worked closely with Dr. Otto Zhou to characterize and optimize a stationary digital breast tomosynthesis system, currently in clinical trials at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital.  Their new system uses carbon nanotube-based x-ray sources, thereby providing better spatial resolution than the lone FDA-approved 3D x-ray system, which uses a single x-ray source that rotates 15 degrees. With the current FDA-approved approach, clinicians must also order a 2D mammogram due to the blurring from the rotation of the 3D system. This second mammogram exposes the patient to an unnecessary secondary source of radiation, which Dr. Zhou and Tucker aim to eliminate by improving the resolution of the initial mammogram.

Dr. Tucker received both his Bachelor’s and Doctoral degrees from the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC and NC State. He is currently working for Xinray Systems, a UNC spinout company that made the tube in the new mammographic imaging system that Tucker helped to develop.

To see the full feature, check out "Building a Better Image" on UNC's Newsroom.

Three BME Senior Design Teams Sweep the PDMA Student Product Innovation Competition

Three Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate teams recently took first, second, and third place in the 2014 Student Product Innovation Competition, sponsored by the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA).  The three teams, all stemming from Dr. Andrew DiMEo’s senior design course at NC State, were as follows:

The Innervators (Jen Haley, Ryan Pilgrim, Jennifer Price, Titus John, and David Lee) proposed both a mobile device hardware addon and software application to work cooperatively to quantitatively measure pupil size and pupillary reaction speed after traumatic brain injury.

Physique Medical (Wade Colburn, Forrest Brown, Ibrahim Zafar, and Michael Petr) developed a modified negative pressure wound therapy device to reduce infection rates and decrease the number of required dressing changes when wounds are being treated.


Stricta Somnus (Carl Santos, Joe Hardin, Blake Wade, and Nat Conti) worked towards creating a cheap and effective screening device to diagnose sleep apnea, a medical condition that afflicts nearly 18 million people in the United States alone.


The Innervators won first place in the competition, held April 25th as part of the Innovate Carolina event at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Groups were scored on five separate criteria: product concept, innovation, value, market, and promotion. As first place winners, the Innervators took home a $300 prize.

Congratulations to all three teams on their outstanding achievement!

Dr. Fran Ligler elected as a councillor of the National Academy of Engineering!

Fran Ligler, a core faculty member and Lampe Distinguished Professor, has been chosen as a councillor for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The academy membership chooses its council members, who serve three-year terms. Six officers (chair, president, vice president, home secretary, foreign secretary, and treasurer) and twelve councillors comprise the NAE Council. The group is responsible for the general policies and programs of the NAE and for the control of all funds administered by the academy. A list of current council members can be found on the NAE Website. Dr. Ligler will begin her tenure as councillor on July 1, 2014.

In its 50th year, the National Academy of Engineering is an elite society for engineers the world over. Election to academy membership alone is one of the highest distinctions in the field. Please join the department in offering Dr. Ligler your most sincere congratulations on this well-earned honor!

Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate, Samuela Fernandes, Wins NC Space Grant

Congratulations to Samuela Fernandes on her recent award from the NC Space Grant! Ms. Fernandes is a 2017 Park Scholar at NC State, and she will work in Dr. Elizabeth Loboa’s Cell Mechanics Laboratory this summer. The NC Space Grant Program provides a competitive scholarship, supported by both NASA and the State of North Carolina. The Awards are based on merit and recognize high academic achievement and promise. Please join the department in congratulating Ms. Fernandes on this early award in her academic career!

Biomedical Engineering PhD Student Paul Sheeran wins 2014 Impact Award

Paul Sheeran, a doctoral student working in Professor Paul Dayton’s lab, has won one of the 2014 Impact Awards from the Graduate School at UNC Chapel Hill. These awards are given to students who, with their faculty members, are conducting critical research at Carolina. The Impact Awards are specifically given to students whose research contributions affect North Carolinians. Sheeran’s work, developing new and highly sensitive contrast agents to aid in cancer treatment and diagnosis, aims to lower the increased cancer mortality rates that afflict rural NC counties. To see a complete list of Impact Award winners, please see the Graduate School’s Website. Congratulations to Paul Sheeran on this award!

BME Spinout Novocor Continues to Impress

Novocor, a Biomedical Engineering company spun out from Dr. Andrew DiMeo’s 2007-2008 senior design course, continues to impress media and progress towards commercializing its primary product, HypoCore. Results, a publication of NC State University, ran a long feature on the company in the magazine's Spring 2014 issue. They highlighted Novocor as one of 11 startups to be funded by the Daugherty Fund, an NC State endowment fund established to bridge pure research and product commercialization. Novocor received a final patent for HypoCore, their innovative therapeutic hypothermia device, in December 2013. The company is anticipating regulatory submission to the Food and Drug Administration later this year such that HypoCore can be in rescue vehicles by 2015.

BME Faculty Member Paul Dayton’s Work with Acoustic Angiography Featured on UNC Healthcare News

In collaboration with Dr. Xiaoning Jiang’s lab in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State, Dr. Paul Dayton’s lab has developed a new ultrasound device that may aid in detecting risk for heart attack and stroke. The device helps to identify vulnerable arterial plaque, or plaque that is at an increased risk of breaking off and causing either a heart attack or stroke. Current technologies are able to assess if plaque is present within arteries but lacks the capability of determining if the plaque is vulnerable. This limitation of current technology makes it difficult to determine a patient’s true risk for a stroke or heart attack.  Dayton and Jiang’s device works in coordination with contrast agents called “microbubbbles” to identify vulnerable plaque. Their research appears in the May issue of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics under the title “A preliminary engineering design of intravasecular dual-frequency transducers for contrast enhanced acoustic angiography and molecular imaging.” Congratulations to both Dr. Dayton and BME Ph.D. student Heath Martin, a co-author on the paper, on their well deserved press in UNC Healthcare News.

Director of Undergraduate Studies for Biomedical Engineering at NC State, Dr. Lianne Cartee, wins Blessis Advising Award

Dr. Lianne Cartee has been honored as a 2014 recipient of NC State’s Blessis Advising Award.  The award was instituted by the College of Engineering to recognize exceptional advisors while honoring the memory of George H. Blessis, whose interest in undergraduate education and advising served as an example of excellence within the College.  Every year, undergraduate students initiate nominations for the award, and the College of Engineering Teaching and Advising Awards Committee selects the winners. Recipients receive a monetary award and a permanent plaque engraved with their name in Page Hall. Please join us in both congratulating Dr. Cartee on this award and thanking her for all of her hard work with BME undergraduate students.

BME Faculty Member Dr. Zhen Gu Honored with Sigma Xi Young Faculty Research Award

Dr. Zhen Gu, a core faculty member in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, is one of two recipients of the Young Faculty Research Award from the NC State Chapter of the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society! Sigma Xi is an international society of Scientific Researchers, and the NC State chapter annually presents awards to young faculty who have “demonstrated excellence in their areas of research specialization.” Past awardees from Biomedical Engineering include Dr. Roger Narayan and Dr. Elizabeth Loboa. Congratulations to Dr. Gu on this well-deserved honor for his outstanding research!

Steven Soper’s Research Published in Analytical Chemistry and Featured on the website of the American Chemical Society

Strokes represent the third leading cause of death and disability in the United States, but physicians still lack a simple method to differentiate between ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. However, the first few hours post-stroke are a critical period to determine patient treatment; the treatment received during the first three hours post-onset often determines a patient’s long-term prognosis. Alison Baird, of the SUNY Downstate Stroke Center, has located biomarkers in blood that can suggest stroke type. BME's own Dr. Steven Soper, in collaboration with colleagues from Louisiana State University and with Dr. Baird, has developed a polymer microfluidic device to diagnose ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke using blood. The device can process whole blood and isolate genetic material for two stroke biomarkers, all within minutes. This device has the potential to become a much-needed rapid test for stroke, which could assist doctors in determining the best course of treatment directly after a stroke.

Soper’s work was featured in the weekly news on the American Chemical Society’s website. The full article detailing the research is available through Analytical Chemistry.

Join BME in Congratulating Dr. Helen Huang—the New Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Center!

Please join us in offering Professor Helen Huang your warmest congratulations on her recent appointment as the director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Center (REC) at NC State and UNC. The REC, like BME itself, unites the University of North Carolina and NC State University in order to encourage and engender groundbreaking collaborative science between the two institutions.  The Co-Interim Director of the Center, Dr. Rick Wysk, commented that Dr. Huang is the “perfect person for this opportunity.” Louis Martin-Vega, the Dean of NC State's College of Engineering, in addition to offering his congratulations, noted that he “looks forward to her leadership in this very special and unique effort in our College!” With her innovative research in the creation of neural-machine interfacing technologies, Dr. Huang is perfectly positioned and qualified to lead the Rehabilitation Engineering Center as it continues to prosper and grow. Congratulations to Helen on this exciting new step in her career!

BME Graduate Student Rachel Nordberg Wins NC Space Grant Graduate Research Fellowship

Rachel Nordberg, a doctoral student working with Dr. Elizabeth Loboa, has been selected as one of NC Space Grant’s Graduate Research Fellows for 2014! As a fellowship recipient in this program, Rachel will receive funding to conduct research that investigates bone loss in space. Her research will examine a cell-signaling pathway known to be involved with bone loss in space. She will look particularly at LRP Proteins, which have not yet been focused on in research. Seeing how these proteins react to mechanical stimuli will shed light on why astronauts lose bone in space and will potentially determine a way to prevent that bone loss pharmaceutically. Congratulations to Rachel on this funding and recognition!

BME’s Subha Rekha Balasubramanyam Nominated for NCSU’s College of Engineering Awards for Excellence

Please join us in giving a heartfelt congratulations to Rekha on her nomination for one of the College of Engineering’s Awards for Excellence at NCSU! At the University level, an Award for Excellence is the most prestigious honor given to non-faculty employees. They are awarded to NCSU employees who have performed services or made accomplishments of such outstanding merit as to justify special recognition. This nomination at the College level recognizes Rekha as one of ten outstanding staff members in the College of Engineering in 2014. She clearly deserves this nomination and recognition for her dedication, friendliness, and overall outstanding work as BME’s Administrative Manager at NCSU.

Contour Medical Attracts the Attention of Carolina Challenge and NCIIA

Contour Medical, a spinout company led by BME Graduate Students Alex Verderber and David Ruppert, is looking to change a medical device that has evolved little since its inception in the 1930s—the rib spreader. By creating a device that changes the way thoracic tissue is engaged, Contour Medical hopes to reduce the incidence of chronic post-operative pain in patients who require thoracic surgery.

Carolina Challenge is an annual competition open to any UNC-affiliated person or persons with entrepreneurial aspirations. The finalists of the competition present their plans to a panel of judges consisting of successful entrepreneurs and business people as well as community and university leaders. For the 2014 competition, Contour Medical won $10,000 and came in second place overall out of seventy that entered the competition. They won first place in the “Commercial: High Tech” track of the challenge!

Contour Medical has also been invited to attend Stage 1 of the E-Team program sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. The E-Team program is a three-step program designed to provide support and funding of up to $75,000 to collegiate entrepreneurs working on market-based technology inventions. Contour Medical is one of 40 entrepreneurs funded to attend the Stage 1 Workshop and invited to apply for the Stage 2 competition, which will award $20,000 to twenty applicants. To read more about the E-Team competition, check out the website for the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

Congratulations to Contour Medical!

Professor Rich Goldberg Wins UNC’s Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship for Teaching Award

Each year, in coordination with the Carolina Center for Public Service, the Office of the Provost selects three recipients for their Engaged Scholarship Awards. These awards are intended to honor members or groups of the UNC community that have performed extraordinary public service engaged scholarship and/or enabled such work by others. The awards are given in three categories: teaching, research, and partnership. Our very own Rich Goldberg has been chosen as the 2014 recipient of the engaged teaching award. This honor recognizes the impact of Dr. Goldberg’s senior design course on disabled persons in the local community. Congratulations to Dr. Goldberg for this well deserved recognition!

UNC Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Student Published in Accounts of Chemical Research!

Congratulations to Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Ashlyn Young on her first scientific publication! Ashlyn spent last summer at the University of Minnesota with the Haynes Research Group as part of the Nanotechnology Network’s Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. While in the Haynes Research Group, Ms. Young worked with Xiaojie Wu and Donghyuk Kim, and their work has now appeared in Accounts of Chemical Research! Their paper, titled “Microfluidics-Based in Vivo Mimetic Systems for the Study of Cellular Biology,” offers a perspective on microfluidics in cell-cell modeling.  Their paper explains that their studies will not model “the complexity of the in vivo human system” but will be able to “control the complexity so researchers can examine critical factors of interest carefully and quantitatively.” To read the full article, find it through ACS Publications.

Professor Nancy Allbritton Interviewed by University Gazette and Featured on

In a recent article by Gary Moss, the University Gazette at UNC showcased the exciting work being done within our own Biomedical Engineering department. The interview with Dr. Allbritton comments on the necessity of interdisciplinary research as well as the economic impact that biomedical engineering programs can have. The feature on the department highlights Biomedical Engineering’s strategy of combining the strengths of three well-regarded individual institutions—the College of Arts & Sciences and School of Medicine at UNC and the College of Engineering at NC State. The article contains not only an interview with Professor Allbritton, but also features others in our department—Zhen Gu, Helen Huang, Frances Ligler, and Andrew DiMeo.

The article, “A Place to Merge Complementary Minds,” is currently being featured on, and was published in full on the University Gazette’s website.

Research from Zhen Gu’s Lab Published in Nature Communications and Featured on

Dr. Zhen Gu’s lab has developed a technique that utilizes ATP to trigger the release of anti-cancer drugs directly inside cancer cells. The group has designed spherical nanoparticles consisting of an outer shell comprised of hyaluronic acid (HA) and a core of DNA molecules embedded with an anti-cancer drug. The HA shell interacts with certain cancer cells; after interaction, the shell dissolves and the cancer cell absorbs the nanoparticle’s core. The anti-cancer drug in the core of the nanoparticle is embedded in DNA molecules, which are designed to unfold and release the drug only when in contact with high-levels of ATP (found within the cancer cells). Dr. Ran Mo, a postdoctoral researcher in Gu’s lab and lead author on the paper, notes that this work is the first time that ATP has been used as a molecular trigger for the controlled release of anti-cancer drugs.

The paper on the group’s research was recently published in Nature Communications and featured on Nature Communications is an online and multi-disciplinary publication from the Nature Publishing Group. To read the article, “ATP-triggered Anticancer Drug Delivery,” visit the Nature Communications website. Congratulations to Dr. Gu, Dr. Mo, and the entire team on the well-deserved press!

NC State Library Wins Prestigious Stanford Prize for Innovation in Research Libraries

Adjacent to Engineering Building III, the home of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University, the J.B. Hunt Library is the latest jewel of NCSU’s Centennial Campus. Since opening in January 2013, the library has earned a steady stream of acclaim for both its technological innovations and its unique architecture. This week, it has won a prestigious prize from Stanford University—the Stanford Prize for Innovation in Research Libraries (SPIRL). Stanford University Libraries notes that the Hunt Library “embodies the institution’s entrepreneurial aspirations with a forward-looking and ambitious approach to support research and learning through a diverse array of advanced technologies.” This win draws attention to the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that pervades the Centennial Campus. Congratulations to the Hunt Library on this significant success and recognition!

Check out the NC State Library’s news article about their win on their website.

Novocor Medical Systems Featured on TedMed Blog

Three companies featured in the TEDMED 2013 Hive have developed products engineered for emergency responders, reports Stacy Lu of the TEDMED Blog. Overall, 50 start-ups were featured in the 2013 Hive, but Lu features three companies focusing specifically on first responders. These companies represent a growing trend in healthcare innovation to transform emergency medical care, and one of the three start-ups is Novocor Medical Systems, co-founded by core faculty member Dr. Andrew DiMeo. Novocor originated in Dr. DiMeo’s senior design course, which immerses senior undergraduates into the healthcare field in order for them to find real-world problems to solve. Novocor’s innovative device, HypoCore, translates therapeutic hypothermia (which is typically induced by a catheter based cooling system in hospitals) into a portable and rechargeable device for EMTs to use in the field. Lu’s article highlights that HypoCore is not only great on paper—it was also designed with FDA regulations in mind and has secured nearly $1M in Series A financing. Novocor plans to file with the FDA in approximately a year and a half. Congratulations to Novocor for their continued presence in the press!

To read Stacy Lu’s full article, “Innovations to aid first responders, and not a second too soon,” head over to the TEDMED Blog.

Doctoral Student Asad Ahmad Receives Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

BME graduate student Asad Ahmad has been selected to receive an F31 fellowship from the National Institutes of Health to fund his doctoral degree. Asad’s fellowship will run for three years and support his research with Dr. Allbritton’s group. Asad’s project involves developing a micro-engineered technology to introduce tightly controlled gradients of relevant morphogenetic factors to primary colonic cells in order to reveal contributions of individual factors on colonic stem cell expansion. The colonic stem cell niche drives the most rapidly self-renewing tissue in the human body—the colonic epithelium. Ahmad’s application fell under the umbrella of the National Cancer Institute, which funded less than one third of F31 applications it reviewed in 2013. BME congratulates Asad on both the fellowship and the external recognition of the importance of his envisioned research!

BME Faculty Member Mike Ramsey Elected to National Academy of Engineering

BME congratulates Professor Mike Ramsey on his 2014 election to the National Academy of Engineering. The Academy selected 67 members and 11 foreign associates this year, its 50th year in existence. Dr. Ramsey was chosen for his work in developing microfluidic technologies for analytical applications. Membership in the National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest honors of the field, and this appointment only adds to Dr. Ramsey’s already long-list of accomplishments, which includes serving as an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) fellow in 2008, an election as a 2011 American Chemical Society fellow, and a Ralph N. Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry in 2013. Dr. Ramsey is a Professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and also holds an appointment as the Minnie N. Goldby Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Ramsey is the second faculty member of the joint department to be elected to the national academy of engineering.

To see the full press release, which includes the names of the other members elected this year, please visit the National Academy of Engineering’s Website.

Core Faculty Member Dr. Helen Huang Featured in North Carolina Newspapers

Dr. Helen Huang’s work on brain-connected prostheses has once again made an appearance in the press. In late January, both the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News and Observer reported on Dr. Huang’s development of smarter prostheses that utilize brain signals to help deal with changes in terrain, speed, and type of activity. The goal of Huang’s work is to program a bionic leg to respond to specific brain activity patterns associated with a specific command, such as bending the knee. Congratulations to Professor Huang on the well-deserved publicity!

BME Remembers Dr. Peter Mente

One of the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering’s original faculty members, Dr. Peter Mente, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on January 20, 2014. Professor Mente held degrees from both the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, had fellowships at the University of Minnesota and the University of Vermont, and had been teaching at NC State since 1999, when he joined the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. In 2003 he was one of the founding members of the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and UNC. Dr. Mente worked in rehabilitation engineering, specifically in the area of cell & tissue loading as well as in early degenerative changes in cartilage following impact injury. During his teaching career, Dr. Mente received numerous teaching accolades, including a 2007 Outstanding Teacher Award and a 2008 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Award. BME Alumnus Austin Hampton remembers Dr. Mente fondly, recalling him as “one of the best professors” and noting that “Biomechanics will never be the same.” Close BME colleague and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Lianne Cartee, shares similar sentiments describing Peter as “a dedicated teacher who cared deeply for his students and was well loved by them in return.  He was a founding member of the BME faculty and a friend to many of us.  He’ll be missed."

Peter’s obituary can be found online at Dee Funeral Home's website.

To honor Dr. Mente’s commitment to and passion for teaching, BME in collaboration with the Mente family has established a scholarship fund in his honor. The family encourages donations be given to the scholarship fund in lieu of flowers. If you would like to donate, please go to the NC State Engineering Foundation’s web portal and designate the Peter Mente Scholarship.

Paul Sheeran wins Best Poster Award at Ultrasound Contrast Imaging Symposium

Paul Sheeran, a BME graduate student in Paul Dayton’s lab, has recently won an award for best poster at the 19th Annual European Symposium on Ultrasound Contrast Imaging in Rotterdam. His winning poster was titled “Detecting the Acoustic Signatures of Volatile Phase-Change Perfluorocarbon Agents.” Congratulations to Paul Sheeran and the Dayton Lab!

BME Spinout SonoVol Wins NSF Small Business Technology Transfer Award

Congratulations to SonoVol on its recent $225,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant from the National Science Foundation! Co-founded by BME Core faculty member Paul Dayton and BME alumnus Dr. Ryan Gessner (Ph.D., 2013), SonoVol has close ties to Biomedical Engineering at UNC and NCSU. The funded project, titled “An ultrasonic device for rapid tomographic rodent tissue and vasculature imaging,” will enable company president Dr. Gessner and his team to develop and test a prototype preclinical ultrasound imaging system. By creating an ultrasonic device that will provide tomographic images to researchers, the team at SonoVol aims to reduce or eliminate the typical need to utilize expensive MR or CT scans in certain research areas. Their hope is that this technology will allow researchers to obtain tomographic images quickly and at a reduced cost.

Cortical Metrics Selected as a Winner of NFL & GE’s Head Health Challenges

Cortical Metrics, a spinout company pioneered by BME core faculty members Mark Tommerdahl and Bob Dennis, has been selected as one of the winners for the first round of GE & NFL’s $20M Head Health Challenges. GE & NFL have partnered together in this program to promote research in both the expedient diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injury in athletes, members of the military, and society overall. As a round one winner, Cortical Metrics is one of sixteen initial awardees who will receive $300,000 in funding; the sixteen winners were selected from a competitive pool of well over 400 applicants from 27 countries. In 2015, six of these round one winners will be selected to receive $500,000 in funding to continue their research.

The funding for Cortical Metrics comes for its device, shaped like a computer mouse and able to connect to any desktop or laptop, which uses both vibrations and the patient’s ability to sense those vibrations to measure the severity of a concussion. The vibrations activate adjacent places of the brain that typically communicate with each other—the key is that these communications characteristically deteriorate with the severity of the concussion and improve with the patient’s recovery. Cortical Metrics, in collaboration with the Tommerdahl and Dennis research groups, is working on a web-based computer program to measure brain health by determining the quality of communication between these adjacent brain areas.  This work will increase the device’s portability and expedite the diagnosis of concussion. Congratulations to Dr. Tommerdahl and Cortical Metrics on their award and well-deserved recognition!

To read about all the funded projects in the first round of GE and NFL’s Head Health Challenges, take a look at the article from Reuters.

Elizabeth Loboa Receives NC TraCS Grant!

Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Loboa and her Post-Doctoral collaborator Dr. Sonya Sonnenberg on the funding of their NC TraCS grant titled “Fiber-Reinforced Extracellular Matrix Hydrogels for Skeletal Muscle Regeneration”! The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute is home to the implementation of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program at UNC Chapel Hill. Nationally, CTSA is comprised of approximately 60 medical research institutions who are working together as a consortium to improve the way that biomedical research is conducted. The consortium envisions a future of biomedical research that expedites the process of translating laboratory discoveries into patient treatments. Dr. Loboa’s project involves the regeneration of skeletal muscle following traumatic injury. The project aims to implement acellular strategies to recruit endogenous cells and promote constructive remodeling in the area of skeletal muscle loss, rather than the more typical approach of delivering exogenous cells into the affected area. As North Carolina serves as home to the United States’ third largest military population and that population is uniquely at risk for skeletal muscle loss via trauma, this project has the potential to make a real impact on the local population of the state.

Dr. Gu’s Work Featured on Science Daily and News & Observer

Dr. Zhen Gu’s lab once again was mentioned in the press, this time for the exciting work they’re doing with the administration of chemotherapy drugs. Science Daily and News & Observer both featured research coming from the Gu Group this week. Particularly, Dr. Gu and his lab have developed a nanoparticle that releases two different cancer-killing drugs to target different areas of the cancer cell. Dr. Gu explained that their technique “resulted in a significant improvement in breast cancer reduction as compared to conventional treatment techniques.” Receptors on the membrane of the cancer cell effectively “grab” the outer shell of the nanoparticle, made of halyuronic acid (HA) and TRAIL (a protein drug). When enzymes in the cancer cell environment break down the HA, the TRAIL is released onto the membrane, where it is effective in triggering cell death. The breakdown of the outer nanoparticle shell also releases its core. The core is comprised of doxorubicin (Dox) embedded with peptides, which the cancer cell breaks down. The nanoparticle then releases the Dox into the cell where it triggers cell death in the nucleus. This complex drug delivery system using a programmed strategy attempts to create a more local and targeted method of chemotherapy administration. While their work is the first proof of concept, the lab hopes that the treatment can be scaled up for a much larger scale. BME congratulates Dr. Gu and his lab on their continued presence in the press!

See the articles in Science Daily and News & Observer for more information, or read the paper, "Gel-Liposome-Mediated Co-Delivery of Anticancer Membrane-Associated Proteins and Small-Molecule Drugs for Enhanced Therapeutic Efficacy" published in Advanced Functional Materials.


Dr. Loboa to be featured in February 2014 issue of Prevention

Dr. Loboa’s work with smart bandages will be featured as one of five “big game-changers” for health in the February 2014 issue of Prevention magazine.  The article explains how a smart bandage, made with nanofibres, can be programmed to deliver a particular drug to a wound and then degrade by itself. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pain-relievers are kinds of drugs that can all be integrated into the smart bandages. These bandages are intended to be used for a wide spectrum of wounds—from scrapes to burns or other serious wounds. Take a look at page 73 of the February 2014 issue of Prevention to read the full article by Bonnie Cleaver: “The future of medicine: Mind-blowing health breakthroughs set to rock your world.”

Dr. Zhen Gu Receives American Diabetes Association Junior Faculty Award

Dr. Gu’s work to transform the way that diabetics manage their blood glucose levels has once again won well-deserved recognition. The American Diabetes Association has granted Dr. Gu a prestigious Junior Faculty Award to fund his research in creating a next-generation glucose-responsive insulin delivery system to manage glucose levels. By creating a smart insulin delivery device that is pain-free, inherently safe and cost-effective, Dr. Gu’s work has the potential to completely change the way that the over 371 million people with diabetes manage their disease. The ADA Junior Faculty Awards are given to faculty within their first ten years of research and provide research funding for a three-year period. BME congratulates Dr. Gu on his continued success in transforming the treatment of diabetes!

Elizabeth Loboa to Serve as Chair of Young Investigators Council for Tissue Engineering

BME congratulates Professor Elizabeth Loboa on her recent appointment as the Chair of the Young Investigators Council for Tissue Engineering, the premier journal in the tissue engineering field. In addition to the mentoring chair, the Young Investigators Council is made up of six graduate students or new PhDs, selected from a competitive pool of over 350 international applicants. Additionally, one of the six members is a former NCSU/UNC BME Undergraduate, Jennifer Puetzer, who worked in Dr. Loboa’s lab and is currently completing her doctoral work at Cornell University.  The members of the council will serve a one-year term on the editorial board for Tissue Engineering, and each young investigator on the council will receive 5-6 papers for peer review. The council and chair will coordinate a Young Investigator Council special issue of Tissue Engineering in 2014. Congratulations to Dr. Loboa and to Ms. Puetzer!

BME Congratulates Jennifer Price on her Undergraduate Research Award

Jennifer Price, an undergraduate student working in Dr. Zhen Gu’s lab, has won one of NCSU’s Undergraduate Research Award Grants for the Spring of 2014. Ms. Price’s project aims to develop insulin-containing PGLA/chitosan nanoparticles that will exhibit a pulsatile release profile when subjected to a focused ultrasound. Particularly, she will be characterizing the nanoparticles for their biocompatibility, efficacy, and consistency. Ms. Price’s project is part of the ongoing research in Dr. Gu’s lab that seeks to improve the quality of life for diabetic patients by providing alternatives to frequent injections. The lab hopes to be able to create methods to manage diabetes in a less invasive way than traditional means. Congratulations to both Jennifer and Dr. Gu on their well-deserved funding for their exciting work!


Research from Dr. Zhen Gu and His Lab Featured on NCSU’s Newsroom

Researchers at the University of North Carolina and at North Carolina State University, including Dr. Zhen Gu, Jin Di, and Jennifer Price of BME, are in the process of developing a brand new nanotechnology-based technique for helping diabetic patients regulate glucose levels.  The system utilizes an injectable nano-network of poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) particles which are filled with insulin. Once injected into the patient, the network can remain active for days at a time, and the insulin can be released with a portable ultrasound device. The team has done proof-of-concept testing on mice with type-1 diabetes, which shows that the networks can contain enough insulin to regulate blood glucose for up to 10 days. “When the insulin runs out, you have to inject a new nano-network,” notes Jin Di, a graduate student in Dr. Gu’s lab and lead author on the paper, “the previous nano-network is dissolved and fully absorbed into the body in a few weeks.” The director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Diabetes Care Center, Dr. John Buse, notes that the technique could improve quality of life for millions of people suffering with daily insulin injections to regulate their diabetes, and he anticipates translating the work into clinical practice. Dr. Gu hopes that this will be “a big step toward giving diabetics a more painless method of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.”

To read more, take a look at the NCSU Press Release or the research team’s full article, “Ultrasound-Triggered Regulation of Blood Glucose Levels Using Injectible Nano-Network,” in Advanced Healthcare Materials.

Dr. Greg Sawicki Honored as One of NCSU’s 2013-2014 University Faculty Scholars

The North Carolina State University Office of the Provost announced on November 22, 2013 that Dr. Greg Sawicki will be one of the 2013-2014 University Faculty Scholars. Dr. Sawicki was one of seven total nominees that the College of Engineering nominated for the prestigious awards—the most that the college was allowed to nominate for the program. Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering, Louis Martin-Vega, noted that the award was very well deserved and offered his sincere congratulations.

The University Faculty Scholars program was established in 2012 to reward excellence in early- and mid-career faculty at NCSU. To meet eligibility requirements, faculty members must be assistant professors who have been reappointed for a second term, associate professors, or full professors in their first three years serving at that rank. The program was designed as an effort by the university to invest in and retain high quality faculty members; it is funded through donations by Jim and Ann Goodnight and William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust. With this award, Dr. Sawicki will hold the title of University Faculty Scholar and receive a $10,000 annual supplement for the next five years to enhance his already outstanding work. Although only in its second year, Dr. Sawicki will be BME’s second faculty member to receive this prominent honor. Please join all of BME in offering Dr. Sawicki our sincere congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!

To read more about the 2013 - 2014 class of University Faculty Scholars, please see the announcement on NCSU's Bulletin.