Faculty teams awarded seed grants to fund biodevice development

Tessa M. Woodring
July 28, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Faculty teams from across multiple disciplines recently received Penn State Biodevices Seed Grants and Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine Grants to support work on the development of biodevices.

The Penn State Biodevices Seed Grant Program, administered by the Center for Biodevices in the College of Engineering, supports collaborations among engineers, scientists and clinicians. The awarded teams focus on biodevices to improve health, such as implantable, surgical and wearable devices, as well as sensing and diagnostic devices. These seed grants provide each team with funds to generate preliminary data for co-authored publications and external grant submissions. The grants also provide teams with the opportunity to develop a prototype of a new biodevice that could potentially attract commercial development. Support for these grants also comes from the College of Engineering, the College of Medicine, the Materials Research Institute and the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.

“The Penn State Biodevices Seed Grants are designed to jump start promising ideas in biodevices and set the principal investigators up for success with future external support for their work,” said Mary Frecker, professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering and director of the Penn State Center for Biodevices. “The awardees represent three colleges at Penn State — engineering, medicine, and earth and mineral sciences — and their projects are exactly the kind of cross-disciplinary, cutting-edge research that the Center for Biodevices seeks to support.”

The Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine Grants, administered by the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine, support projects that create or capitalize upon opportunities for new applications of engineering to solve problems in the life sciences and medicine. This program was developed to encourage collaborations between engineers and clinicians or biomedical scientists. This year, in support of the Penn State Biodevices Seed Grant Program, teams were chosen based on their focus of biomedical devices.

“Each year, as many as 20 proposals from more than 40 researchers are received in response to the request for applications,” said Sarah Bronson, associate dean for interdisciplinary research and associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology in the Penn State College of Medicine. “These proposals undergo a rigorous scientific merit review process by a comparable number of their peers. Over the years, the success of the program has been documented by collaborative publications and subsequent research funding in many instances, forming an important scholarly bridge between the two colleges.”

The recipients of the Penn State Biodevices Seed Grant are:

  • Steve Hicks, assistant professor of pediatrics; Weihua Guan, assistant professor of electrical engineering; and Eric Schaefer, biostatistician in public health sciences, for their project, “Rapid measurement of concussion-related saliva microRNA with a novel biodevice.”
  • Huanyu Cheng, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics; Qing Wang, professor of materials science and engineering; Jian Yang, professor of biomedical engineering; and Joe Littlejohn, assistant professor of surgery, for their project, “Biodegradable artificial urinary sphincter."

The recipients of the Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine Grant are:

  • Jing Du, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; April Armstrong, interim chair and professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation; and Greg Lewis, assistant professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, for their project, “Biomechanics study toward patient-specific implants for osteoarthritic shoulders.”
  • Sri-Rajasekhar Kothapalli, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Gail Matters, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; and Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Steward S. Flaschen Professor of Ceramic Science and Engineering and professor of electrical engineering, for their project, “Development and validation of a multimodal endoscopy system for early diagnosis of image-guided surgery of pancreatic cancer.”


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Last Updated July 29, 2020