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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.

Three BME Undergraduates Earn Senior Thesis Research Grants from UNC

Three Undergraduate Students at UNC have secured Senior Thesis Research Awards! Sneha Rao will be working with Dr. Paul Dayton, Vaibhav Hans with Dr. Jeff Macdonald, and Robert Hinson with Dr. Nancy Allbritton. These awards, established through various gifts to the UNC honors program, are intended to help students offset the cost of equipment, supplies, software, publications, and transportation as they work towards completing honors theses in their senior year. Congratulations to Sneha, Vaibhav, and Robert on their well-deserved awards!

Doctoral Student Stephen Tuin Wins Technical Merit Award from Industrial Advisory Board

Stephen Tuin, a doctoral student in Elizabeth Loboa’s Cell Mechanics Laboratory, has won the Technical Merit Award at the fall 2013 Industry Advisory Board meeting of the Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center (NCRC). Stephen’s presentation, “Interconnected Micropores in Hollow Nonwoven Fibers,” also made the finalist list for the Best Presentation Award at the same meeting, held November 11 – 13.  Stephen also placed third for his poster presented at the Joint Symposium of the Materials Research Society, ASM International, American Vacuum Society, and Appalachian Regional Microscopy Society hosted by the Analytical Instrumentation Facility at NCSU on Friday, November 15.  Congratulations to both Stephen and to Dr. Loboa’s cell mechanics laboratory!

Professor Greg Sawicki’s Research Cited in Nature

Dr. Greg Sawicki’s work was recently highlighted in the November 14th issue of Nature. This citation, from a journal in its 503rd volume of publication with a longstanding history of excellent scientific journalism, is a notable external recognition of the successful work emerging from Dr. Sawicki’s research program. The article by Peter Gwynne, part of a supplement all about the spine, overviews the state of robotic exoskeletons which give mobility to people with spinal cord injuries. The article notes that Dr. Sawicki’s work with ankle plantarflexors offers an innovative approach to regain movement for some patients who can stand but not walk after spinal cord injuries. By creating an elastic solution that extends the foot at the correct time during stepping, Dr. Sawicki’s work offers a way to facilitate movement that falls outside of complex and bulky robotic exoskeletons. To read about Dr. Sawicki’s work and all the exciting developments at the intersection of spinal cord rehabilitation, robotics, and exoskeletons, read the full article, “Technology: Mobility Machines,” on Nature’s website:

Andrew DiMeo’s Spin-Out Novocor Selected as SEBIO’s EARLY/Stage Shootout Competition Winner!

Southeast BIO (SEBIO) held its Annual Investor & Partnering Forum early this month. In its 15th year, SEBIO’s forum has come to be known as the Southeast’s premier life sciences and medical technology conference. The conference invites emerging companies, industry professionals, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investments bankers, corporate executives, and university representatives to facilitate networking and to discuss challenges and opportunities in both the medical technology and biotechnology industry sectors. The conference had nearly 300 attendees this year alone. Twenty-two emerging and promising companies presented funding pitches to investors at the conference, and out of four finalists to present in the EARLY/Stage program, Novocor was selected, by a panel of judges representing four venture funds, as the EARLY/Stage program’s winner.

Novocor’s first product, HypoCore, focuses on putting therapeutic hypothermia as a practical treatment option into the hands of EMS professionals. Therapeutic hypothermia can benefit victims of many different kinds of trauma—stroke, cardiac arrest, heat stroke, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury. Novocor is no stranger to success. In August they raised over $1M in funding, and they have already secured both an NC IDEA grant as well a NC Biotechnology Center loan. In addition, their recent win at SEBIO was featured on WRAL’s TechWire! Congratulations to both Dr. DiMeo and Novocor alike on the fledgling company’s continued success!

To read the full press-release, please see the following link:

BME’s Dr. Jacqueline Cole is Part of an Interdisciplinary Team to Win One of NCSU’s Research and Innovation Seed Funding Awards!

Dr. Jacqueline Cole, as part of a collaborative team boasting members from five departments and two colleges at NC State, has won a Research and Innovation Seed Funding (RISF) Award from NCSU! RISF awards are awarded by NCSU for projects that are interdisciplinary in nature and have a strong chance of later seeing funding from external sources. The team, led by Alyson Wilson of the Department of Statistics and Dr. Blair Sullivan of the Department of Computer Science, will aim to develop methods to track trends and locate insights in health data. The project is truly the picture of cross-departmental collaboration—not only does it bring together faculty from across the campuses, but it also will utilize three applications (personalized medicine, dynamics of the musculoskeletal system, bone-vascular interactions) and three methodological areas (statistics, discrete math, machine learning). The project is titled, “Scalable Clustering Methods for Dynamic Health Data,” and it will seek to mine useful and insightful health data from big and noisy datasets that have come into existence due to advances in both technology and record-keeping. Congratulations to Dr. Cole and the entire team!


Professors Ligler and Gu Win One of NCSU’s Research and Innovation Seed Funding Awards!

Congratulations to Professors Zhen Gu and Frances Ligler for their recent award by NCSU’s Research and Innovation Seed Funding (RISF) Program. The NC State program was established to fund interdisciplinary research that has strong potential to later receive either industry or governmental assistance for research. In collaboration with Dr. Gufeng Wang of the Chemistry Department, Dr. Ligler and Gu hope to develop powerful tools to monitor sub-cellular structures in a spatiotemporally controlled way. The project, titled “Spatiotemporal Visualization of DNA Damage Response using Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy,” will implement a live-cell tagging system by developing degradable protein nanocapsules to tag adenosine 5'-diphosphate-ribose (PAR) assemblies in live human cells. Using super-resolution microscopy, the project will also monitor the generation and distribution of PAR in the presence of controlled DNA damages. As aging, on the cellular level, is associated with an increase in DNA lesions and a degradation of DNA repair mechanisms, the project has exciting implications for BME’s newest focus area—regenerative medicine. Congratulations again to Drs. Gu, Ligler, and Wang!

Professor Hatice Ozturk Wins NSF’s Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM Award

Congratulations to Dr. Ozturk on her recent award from the National Science Foundation! In coordination with Alina Duca of the NCSU Math Department and Dianne Raubenheimer of Meredith College, Dr. Ozturk’s project aims to directly improve and enhance student learning of mathematics in an engineering context. The project will develop a software interface that creates a customized learning path for students through integrating both assistance with and assessment of e-learning into a tailored program. With the development of this novel and intuitive software, the goal of the project is to improve undergraduate students’ mathematical abilities in the context of several engineering courses. The project will also intersperse Just-in-Time Assessment and Review (JITAR) modules into engineering course content. Dr. Ozturk’s project, “Bridging Mathematics Contents to Engineering Contexts: Just-in-Time Assessment and Review Modules,” will run for 2 years. The NSF’s Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (TUES) program seeks to improve the quality of STEM education for all undergraduate students, particularly through projects (like Dr. Ozturk’s) that will effectively transform the dissemination of student education. Congratulations to Dr. Ozturk! If you would like to read more about the National Science Foundation’s TUES program, please visit the following link:

Paper Co-Authored by Matthew Fischer, PhD among Most Downloaded Papers from Tissue Engineering in 2013

BME's newest Faculty Member Dr. Matthew Fischer, a member of the regenerative medicine cluster, was recently recognized by Tissue Engineering, for the success of his 2013 year in review article, which he co-authored with Robert Mauk, PhD of Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center. Their article, titled “Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine: Recent Innovations and the Transition to Translation,” outlined influential sections of the field and predicted areas for progress. The editors of Tissue Engineering have remarked that the article has consistently been in the top downloaded articles from the year. To read Fischer and Mauk’s article, please see Tissue Engineering Part B: Reviews, 2013, 19(1), pp 1-13, or visit the following link:

Two BME Spinouts, Novocor Medical Systems and Augment Medical, Receive Significant Funding

The third quarter of 2013 was a busy one for Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network companies, as six of the startups supported by the network hauled in $5.5 million in funding. Two of these recently funded startups spun out the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. Novocor Medical Systems reached definitive agreements for $961,000 in its series A financing as the company pursues development of a therapeutic hypothermia device. The company also finished the summer with a $75,000 North Carolina Biotechnology Center SBIR loan and a $47,000 NC IDEA grant. Augment Medical was awarded $30,000 in September for its PatientLink system, a wireless communication platform for disabled patients in hospitals. The award came from Carolina KickStart, a program of the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, or NCTraCS.

The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network launched in 2011 as a collaborative effort bringing together Triangle universities and the Council for Entrepreneurial Development to support, launch and mentor new startups in the region. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, affiliated with the Blackstone private equity firm, committed about $3.6 million to the program. To read more please follow this link:

UNC Biomedical Engineering Undergrads Featured in Carolina Arts and Sciences Magazine

Carolina undergraduates are inventing devices to tackle real-world problems through biomedical engineering. The opportunity to study in one of the fastest-growing job fields evolved through a partnership between UNC's College of Arts and Sciences and the UNC School of Medicine’s joint department with NC State’s College of Engineering; Biomedical Engineering.

“Biomedical engineering is an exciting new discipline that applies the rigorous methods of physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering to solve important and urgent biological and biomedical problems,” said Nancy Allbritton, UNC Debreczeny Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, who chairs the joint biomedical engineering department.

In their senior year, UNC biomedical engineering students must take a design course to apply what they have learned. They tour clinics at UNC Hospitals to get ideas for medical problems that could be solved by new technology. In addition, students meet with individuals in the community who have disabilities to get ideas for custom technology that helps them become more independent.

For example, in 2013, students developed an Android tablet app that, when attached to a child’s walker, provided a musical feedback loop for a preschooler with a disability who had been reluctant to practice walking. Students wrote and copyrighted the software and are in the process of making the system available to people in similar situations.

Read the full article at the Carolina Arts and Sciences Magazine's website:

Southeast BIO Investor & Partnering Forum to Showcase BME Spinout Company

Novocor, a BME Spinout company, is one of thirteen medical technology companies to highlight their product in the EARLY/state event at the 2013 Southeast Bio Investor & Partnering Forum this November in Richmond Virginia. Novocor will present HypoCore, a rapid chilling device to induce therapeutic hypothermia. Companies chosen for the EARLY/Stage event are seeking their first rounds of investment. They will participate in an individual private advisory session led by early-stage investors, entrepreneurs and experienced life science managers and service providers. Four EARLY/Stage companies will be selected to present to the full conference audience, with an overall “winner” announced at the closing lunch.


Entrepreneurs representing 22 of the most promising bioscience and medical technology companies in the region will solicit advice and seek investment during the annual life science convention sponsored by Southeast BIO (SEBIO). A selection committee of regional and national venture capitalists selected the companies. Southeast BIO (SEBIO) is a regional non-profit organization that fosters the growth of the life sciences industry in the Southeastern United States through efforts that promote entrepreneurship and bring together the key players active in the development of the industry. SEBIO’s geographic footprint presently includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Ivanisevic Selected to Serve as Associate Editor of ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces

Dr. Albena Ivanisevic, a faculty in the Department of Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering, will be serving as an associate editor of the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. The journal has an impact factor of 5.008 for 2012. The journal serves an interdisciplinary community of scientists and engineers who focus on new materials and interfaces for specific applications. Professor Ivanisevic will be responsible for articles in biomaterials and bio-interfaces. She will be evaluating manuscripts submitted to the journal, identifying and contacting qualified reviewers and facilitating the revision process. As an associate editor she will handle approximately 300 manuscripts a year assigned to her by the editor-in-chief. Professor Ivanisevic has an active research program on surface modification, characterization, and patterning, and publishes on the subject yearly.

Eight Undergraduates Named 2013-14 BME Abrams Scholars

Congratulations to this year's eight Abrams Scholars who were selected from a very strong applicant pool of 28 BME undergraduates interested in guided laboratory research to enhance their undergraduate education. The eight are: Adrianno Belotti, Leighanne Davis, Jennifer Godwin, Mehdi Hamouda, Samuel Ray, Vinayak Subramanian, Siddarth Vadakkeveedu and Kyle Vey. Abrams Scholars are outstanding BME undergraduate students who are selected to receive a stipend to conduct hands-on laboratory research projects. These projects are conceived and designed by the students with the guidance of a faculty mentor. The Abrams Scholar program honors C. Frank Abrams, Jr., a BME and BAE emeritus faculty member. Dr. Abrams led the development of the first courses in Biomedical Engineering at NCSU and was instrumental in: the founding of NCSU’s BME Department; the creation of the joint UNC-CH/NCSU graduate program; and ultimately the launch of the UNC-CH/NCSU Joint BME Department. He was the Joint Department’s first senior design instructor as well as the first Director of Graduate Studies. Congratulations to these eight outstanding BME Abrams Scholars!

BME Spinout - Augment Medical Awarded Grant from NC TraCS’s Carolina KickStart

Augment Medical, was among four local startups awarded ~$20,000 each in commercialization awards from Carolina KickStart, a service of the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS). Carolina KickStart awards are designated for UNC start-up companies in the life science, biomedical, and pharmaceutical fields. The awards are aimed to assist companies with technology validation, product, and business development. Augment Medical is a spinout company from NCSU/UNC’s Biomedical Engineering department. The team is developing PatientLink, a wireless platform to improve the care of disabled patients in the hospital setting. Augment Medical is currently part of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network (BEN) and is a National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Alliance (NCIIA) E-Team Stage 2 company. Augment is led by Tim Martin, MS; Richard Daniels; Daniel Bieber and Andrew DiMeo, PhD. In a note thanking his team, Tim Martin, CEO and cofounder stated, “The grant funding will be used to secure the intellectual property for the PatientLink system. In addition, we will be taking our current wireless prototype and developing a market ready platform for business development efforts”. More details are available in the WRAL feature found at:

KickStart Commercialization Awards promote life-science entrepreneurship on the UNC-CH campus by supporting the commercialization of biomedical innovations. The awards help promote the technical development of a biomedical innovation -- generating preliminary data for an SBIR grant or developing the business case for the innovation. Over the past 4 years, $800,000 in awards has been provided to 22 UNC startups resulting in $10M of additional outside funding.

BME Graduate Student Mallory Selzo places 3rd in Student Paper Competition

On October 1, BME Graduate student Mallory Selzo who works in the lab of Dr. Caterina Gallippi at UNC-CH, won 3rd place in the student paper competition at the 2013 International Tissue Elasticity Conference in Lingfield, UK.  Mallory was selected to be among eight finalists in the competition to give an oral presentation in a special session during the conference. At the conclusion of each presentation, judges assigned scores based on 1) Clarity of presentation, 2) Scientific quality of results, and 3) Importance, scope, and appropriateness of conclusion. BME congratulates Mallory on her award!

The goal of this scientific conference is to provide an international forum for the advancement of knowledge and methods for the measurement and imaging of the elastic attributes of soft tissues by ultrasound. The conference provides a unique and unified forum that brings together researchers from several countries and disciplines. It is expected that it will ultimately contribute to the rapid development and clinical introduction of this new medical imaging technology. The conference website can be found at:

BME Senior Wade Colburn traveled around the world in spring 2013 with Semester at Sea

During Wade’s first three years at NC State, he embarked upon two Semester at Sea programs: the first a month-long Maymester trip to Central America in Spring 2011, and the second a semester-long program in Spring 2013, which took him around the world. On a ship a hemisphere away from home and school, Wade fully realized the difference he could make in the lives of others; by combining his passions for medicine and engineering with an entrepreneurial mindset and the design thinking process.

During his 2013 voyage, which was a partnership between Semester at Sea and the Unreasonable Institute, Colburn took a course called “Sustainable Global Entrepreneurship.” Taught by George Kembel, co-founder of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner School of Design, the design-centric course focused on helping entrepreneurial students investigate how the world is adapting to solve social and environmental challenges. The course gave students the opportunity to work with companies and organizations on several challenges. Wade worked with the Nike Foundation on their Girl Effect program to reinvent the concept of girl empowerment and turn it into a movement that could influence everyday users. When asked about his future Wade responded “I don’t see how I could go any other direction other than using design thinking, whether it’s in a big company to help change their minds, or starting my own device company.” “Design thinking brings innovation where you least expect it.” To read more visit:

Helen Huang’s Research on Brain-Connected Prosthetics featured on NCSU web site and in Triangle Business Journal

Dr. Helen Huang, newly hired core faculty in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, had her work on prosthetic control with neural signals featured prominently in both NC State University’s on-line “The Abstract” and an article of the September 24, 2013 Triangle Business Journal. The NC State feature by Matt Shipman focuses on Dr. Huang’s, and her University of Houston collaborators’; specific efforts to develop a brain-machine interface with lower limb replacement technology. The article titled “Researchers Seek to Control Prosthetic Legs with Neural Signals” can be read in full at: The Triangle Business Journal article by Jason deBruyn elaborates on the Huang/Houston project, in particular describing how the urgent and rapidly growing need for neural control of assistance devices is translating into significant support for their research efforts from sponsors such as the National Science Foundation. The article titled “NCSU researchers earn grant to develop brain-connected prosthetics” can be read in full at:

BME Postdoc, Dr. Kota Takahashi receives Professional Development Award


In September 2013 the North Carolina State University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) selected Joint Department Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Kota Takahashi for a 2013-2014 Professional Development Award. At the Postdoc Appreciation Celebration held in the Hunt Library Dr. Takahashi was recognized as one of the only three recipients to attain this award. Dr. Nisha A. Cavanaugh, Director of OPA, stated that the “the selection committee found Dr. Takahashi’s application package to be strong and his career goals were clearly defined and conveyed”. The Professional Development Award is intended to support the professional development goals of NC State’s Postdoctoral Associates.


BME Student’s Multidisciplinary team wins Medical Category’s First Prize in NASA’s 2013 Create the Future Design Contest

Last fall a group of students in the MBA Product Innovation class, which is sponsored by the NC State’s ASSIST Research Engineering Center, continued to work on their idea after the term ended and then entered this work in the NASA Tech Brief's "Create the Future" Contest Medical Devices category. The members of team are James Dieffenderfer, a BME student working in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; Mike Brown, a Masters graduate of the College of Design; and Leigh Johnson who received her MBA from the NCSU Jenkins Graduate School. The members report that the multidisciplinary composition of their team was fundamental to moving this idea beyond the Product Innovation class.

Their entry, VitalFlo a compact hand held spirometer for asthmatics, was among 75-80 entrants in the Medical Devices category. The final product offers a reliable monitoring solution that helps consumers monitor their breathing, while delivering an education solution showing the best ways to manage and treat changes in their breathing through integration with their smart phone. The vitalflo device progressed through: conception (using situational analysis tools); product development; engineering / technical advancements; and finally business planning that included financial analysis and marketing strategy. The advantage of having professionals from a variety of backgrounds allowed for the simulation of a real-world company and the conception of a fully functional, market-ready device.

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 by the publishers of NASA Tech Briefs magazine to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has attracted more than 8,000 product design ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs, and students worldwide. The contest's principal sponsors are COMSOL and Tech Briefs Media Group. The judging consists of a 24-person panel of senior engineers and scientists. To learn more about VitaFlo follow this link:

BME’s Greg Sawicki Awarded NIH R01 as part of the National Robotics Initiative

On September 18, 2013 Dr. Greg Sawicki, Director of the Human PoWeR Lab in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NCSU/UNC received a 5-year NIH R01 research grant for his project titled “Novel platform for rapid exploration of robotic ankle exoskeleton control strategies to augment healthy or restore post-stroke locomotion”. Dr. Sawicki will collaborate with fellow Principal Investigator Steven Collins, Director of the Experimental Biomechatronics Laboratory and Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. In an innovative funding arrangement, the National Science Foundation is financing Dr. Collins portion of their collaboration. The objective of their joint project will be is to compare different techniques for assisting individuals with stroke-related mobility impairments using robotic ankle orthoses.

The goal of the National Robotics Initiative is to accelerate the development and use of robots in the United States that work beside, or cooperatively with, people. Innovative robotics research and applications emphasizing the realization of such co-robots acting in direct support of and in a symbiotic relationship with human partners is supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Additionally, Dr. Sawicki recently received a NIH Clinical Research Extramural Loan Repayment (LRP) award. The purpose of the Clinical Research LRP is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals as clinical investigators. BME congratulates Greg on both these accomplishments.

BME’s Loboa Anti-Microbial Matrix Research Featured in Cover Story of September 14 Issue of New Scientist

Dr. Elizabeth Loboa, core faculty in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the work of her Cell Mechanics Laboratory team were featured prominently in the Cover Story of the September 14, 2013 New Scientist. The article (page 33), titled “Rebuild your body,” gives an overview of the growing use, and importance, of extracellular matrix in state-of-the-art tissue regeneration. Dr. Loboa’s particular contribution to this exciting new thrust in tissue healing is a matrix application that not only promotes regeneration but also elutes powerful anti-microbial agents capable of suppressing even the most resistant infectious agents. To see the article by Andy Coghlan (requires paid subscription) follow this link:

BME’s Dr. Paul Dayton and Pharmacy Collaborator William Janzen Awarded UNC’s Technology Development Grant

On September 11, 2013 BME core faculty member, Dr. Paul Dayton, and his collaborator, William Janzen (Eshelman School of Pharmacy), received a Technology Development Grant Sponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Vice Chancellor For Research. This grant support is for a project titled “Automatic Microbubble Solution Dispenser for DNA Fragmentation.” The purpose of this funding mechanism is to assist these researchers in commercializing DNA-shearing technology developed during their collaborative work. BME congratulates Drs. Dayton and Janzen and looks forward to seeing their exciting new technique translated to support public health in the foreseeable future.

BME’s Senior Design Program featured in Raleigh’s News & Observer

On September 9, 2013 the Raleigh, NC based “News & Observer” published an article by Laura Baverman titled “NC State leads biomed innovation.” The article describes how the Joint Department’s innovative senior design program, under the mentorship of Core Faculty member Andrew DiMeo, trains BME students to identify unmet needs in local hospitals and then spend two semesters designing and building medical devices to meet those needs. The full article can be read at this link:

BME Spinout Novocor Medical Systems Receives Research Funding and Announces Preferred Stock Financing

The technology behind Novocor Medical Systems (Chapel Hill) was originally developed by students and faculty at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. Novocor Medical Systems was spun-out of BME in the Spring of 2013 and in that short time achieved several honors including being an NCSU Fast 15 Company, highlighted at the UNC Emerging Company Showcase, invited to TEDMED’s “The Hive,” and invited as a Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network Company. These achievements are now being caped by two significant financing milestones.

Novocor Medical Systems received a $75,000 loan to continue prototype development and to engage with potential customers for its portable device for inducing hypothermia in cardiac arrest patients. This came through the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Small Business Research Loans (SRL) program. The SRL Program funds research to advance development of commercially viable technologies/products.

On August 29, 2013 Novocor announced that it entered into agreements for a $961,000 preferred stock financing, which is scheduled to close in three phases. The first phase, representing $337,000 in gross proceeds, closed on August 28, 2013. Novocor plans to use the proceeds from the transaction to finalize development of its proprietary therapeutic hypothermia-inducing device.

Dr. Elizabeth Loboa receives Collaborative Funding Grant award from North Carolina Biotechnology Center

BME core faculty member Elizabeth Loboa’s newly supported project aims to develop a novel antimicrobial bandage to promote wound healing. The award comes from a North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBC) Collaborative Funding Grant (CFG), which are designed to support a university-company partnership that advances the company’s technology toward the marketplace. Dr. Loboa’s collaboration with Dow Chemical Company and NCSU-based Leaders in Innovation and Nonwoven Commercialization, LLC (LINC) seek to commercialize Dow's Silvadur ET technology into antimicrobial nanofiber based bandages optimized to heal wounds.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center makes annual awards in 14 programs. In 2013 awards went to successful applicants across the state to support life science entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and education. In just this past year NCBC provided 151 awards worth more than $10.7 million. See more at