Honors & News
October 28, 2013
A microfluidic bioreactor consists of two chambers separated by a nanoporous silicon membrane. It allows for flow-based assays using minimal amounts of reagent. The ultra-thin silicon membrane provides an excellent mimic of biological barrier properties.
The ability to shrink laboratory-scale processes to automated chip-sized systems would revolutionize biotechnology and medicine. For example, inexpensive and highly portable devices that process blood samples to detect biological agents such as anthrax are needed by the U.S. military and for homeland security efforts. One of the challenges of
lab-on-a-chiptechnology is the need for miniaturized pumps to move solutions through micro-channels. Electroosmotic pumps (EOPs), devices in which fluids appear to magically move through porous media in the presence of an electric field, are ideal because they can be readily miniaturized. EOPs, however, require bulky, external power sources, which defeats the concept of portability. But a super-thin silicon membrane developed at the University of Rochester could now make it possible to drastically shrink the power source, paving the way for diagnostic devices the size of a credit card.
Up until now, electroosmotic pumps have had to operate at a very high voltage - about 10 kilovolts,said James McGrath, associate professor of biomedical engineering.
Our device works in the range of one-quarter of a volt, which means it can be integrated into devices and powered with small batteries.
McGrath's research paper is being published this week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
May 22, 2013
The University of Rochester women's team beat out the others, completing the 3.5-mile course of Corporate Challenge Championship in a combined 1 hour, 24 minutes and 41 seconds. UR's Jessica Snyder (running the course in 20 minutes, 19 seconds) led Sarah Loerch, Kristina Maletz, and Christina deVries across the finish line.
It was the first time Rochester hosted the international championships; 10,921 runners registered for the regular race, which took place at the same time and venue as the championships.
January 3, 2013
UR, RIT Researchers Face New Pressure to Commercialize Work
When University of Rochester scientist James McGrath started his career, doing research that would lead to marketable products was not a priority.
But the landscape has changed dramatically. Government funding for research has been stagnant for several years. Public and private grants now come with greater demands for results that can help drive profits and economic development.
Some venture capital firms are investing less in small early-stage projects. Pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers have switched from in-house research to working with universities and other institutions. Partnerships between university researchers and industry have grown.
January 2, 2013
Imagine a dialysis machine small enough that a patient could wear it. A super-thin filtering material may allow researchers at the University of Rochester to revolutionize dialysis for patients with kidney disease. Jim McGrath, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester, says the thinner the membrane that blood passes through, the more efficient its filtering capacity.
McGrath says the material they're working with filters blood more efficiently, and could end up in a much smaller device that could fit on an arm band.
We can basically replace the experience of going to a dialysis center three times a week with nightly dialysis at home with a device that's about the size of a cell phone and achieve the same sort of clearance level. This is actually like a clinic on a chip,he said.
November 12, 2012
4" wafer with 160 membranes. (Photo by SiMPore Inc.)
Nano-porous silicon membranes developed at the University of Rochester's Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will soon be used to manufacture portable devices that can analyze DNA in remote settings.
A $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will fund a partnership among Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, James McGrath, SiMPore, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Integrated Nanotechnologies (INT) to fabricate the devices.
September 24, 2012
Dr. Jim McGrath Receives $900,000 in NSF Grants
Biomedical Engineering associate professor, Jim McGrath, Ph.D. has just received some important grants to develop new applications for the super-thin, nanoporous silicon membranes that have been developed at the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. A nearly $600,000 National Science Foundation grant will partner McGrath's lab, SiMPore (the University-based startup that manufactures the membranes), RIT, and Integrated Nanotechnologies (INT), another local startup. They'll be using the membranes as filters in a portable INT device that can analyze DNA extracted from a drop of blood. This can be used to diagnose disease or detect pathogens, in the field, in a matter of minutes. They'll then miniaturize all of this onto a lab-on-a-chip (LOC).
Another $300,000 from NSF will fund McGrath's ongoing research to modify the membranes for additional uses; a $100,000 grant continuation from the Coulter Foundation will fund McGrath's efforts to develop a blood dialysis device, using a silicon membrane, that would be small enough to wear on a belt. Imagine what a godsend that would be, if people could remain mobile and active while undergoing continuous dialysis, instead of sitting four hours a day, three days a week in dialysis centers!
August 30, 2011
Dr. James McGrath Receives Coulter Foundation Grant
Professors James McGrath, Ph.D. (Biomedical Engineering) and Jeremy Taylor, M.D. (Nephrology) were recently awarded a Coulter Foundation grant to develop a wearable hemodialysis system using a breakthrough silicon nanomembrane technology originally developed at the University of Rochester. Taking advantage of the extraordinary permeability and selectivity of the nanomembranes, the team hopes to eventually replace clinic-based hemodialysis with a much smaller continuous dialysis system that allows patients to remain mobile. As clinical dialysis requires hours of immobilization during dialysis and fluctuations in toxin levels that cause side effects, a continuous wearable system would provide dramatic improvement in patient lifestyle.
August 26, 2011
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter will join UR President Joel Seligman, Hajim School Dean Rob Clark, and Department of Physics and Astronomy Chair Nicholas Bigelow today for the opening of the Intergrated Nanosystems Center. A news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Munnerlyn Atrium, Goergen Hall. The facility brings together the disciplines of physics, optics, chemistry, biomedicine, and bioengineering to enable research in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.
April 20, 2011
BME Student Kelli Summers Receives Fulbright Grant
Congratulations to BME undergraduate student Kelli Summers, who has been selected as a 2011-2012 Fulbright Scholar to conduct research on
Implementing a Strategy to Combat Child Pneumonia Fatalities in Ghanaian Rural Hospitals.
Kelli will leave for Malawi at the end of May to learn about conducting anthropological research and begin her Fulbright research. She will then travel to St. Francis Xavier Hospital in Assin Foso, Ghana for her Fulbright year and will collaborate with a physician she met during a volunteer experience in 2009. She hopes to create modifications to the World Health Organization's Child Lung Health Program (CLHP) through the use of a focus group and then implement it in the Children's Ward to ultimately decrease the child mortality rate at St. Francis and provide a model for other hospitals in the area.
Her research builds upon the CLHP, which contains protocols to assess and treat childhood pneumonia in developing countries in an effort to decrease the child mortality rate. After conducting extensive literary research, Kelli believes three major problems of the CLHP prevail:
- Disconnect between the policy-makers and the hospital staff implementing the program
- Lack of cultural specificity in nurse education and expectations for patient receptiveness
- Lack of diagnostic technology - specifically pulse oximeters
Kelli has been the immediate past president of the Student Chapter of BMES, and has been involved with BMES since she was a freshman. As co-founder and co-President of UR Genocide Intervention, Kelli helped to raise awareness, advocate to local politicians, raise money for victims, and secure scholarships for Sudanese students to come to the University of Rochester through Banaa. Additionally, Kelli has been tutoring local refugee high school and middle school kids every Saturday for the past year and a half.
It's been interesting interacting with them,said Kelli about the kids,
It's incredible to see how much they've grown in such a short time.Kelli has also been working in Professor McGrath's Laboratory since her sophomore year conducting research under an NIH grant on
Mechanisms Underlying Collective Cell Migration in Vitro.She won the Presidential Research Award this year and is currently working on a peer-reviewed paper as the primary author to submit to the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.
April 15, 2011
BME professor Laurel Carney, Ph.D. (with Kelli Summers, and Benjamin Freedman) was recognized by the Student Association as the Engineering Professor of the Year.
Congratulations to the RCBU and BME students whose work was recognized at the prestigious annual University of Rochester Undergraduate Research Exposition 2011. Undergraduate students from RCBU and BME research laboratories participated in the symposium. BME undergrads Benjamin Freedman '11 and Kelli Summers '11 were both invited to speak at the Engineering and Applied Sciences Symposium Talks.
Freedman discussed his work, What is Q-Angle really measuring? A novel alternative to predict patellar maltracking, which received the Dean's Award. Summers spoke about her research with Dr. James McGrath, Mechanisms Underlying Collective Cell Migration in Vitro, which was recognized by President Seligman with the President's Award. Aaron Zakrzewski (ME '11), mentored by Mechanical Engineering Professor Sheryl Gracewski, gave an oral presentation of his research titled Natural frequency of bubbles within rigid and compliant tubes. Aaron also received a Deans' Award for Undergraduate Research in Engineering and Applied Sciences for his presentation. In addition, five of the seven poster exhibitions from the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences were by BME students:
- Molly Boutin (Benoit Lab) BME '11
- A Polymeric Delivery System to Induce Differentiation in hMSCs
- Jasmine Carvalho (Dalecki Lab) BME '11
- Investigations of Ultrasound Parameters to Promote Spatial Organization of Cells in Three-Dimensional Engineered Tissues
- Vlabhav Kakkad (McAleavey Lab) BME '12
- Experimental Implementation of Shear Wave Induced Phase Encoding Imaging
- Angela Ketterer (Carney Lab) BME '12
- Design and Implementation of a Behavioral Apparatus for Auditory Research in Birds
- Hannah Watkins (Benoit Lab) BME '11
- Novel Parthenolide Delivery System for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment
- (Received the Professor's Choice Award)
January 6, 2010
Members of the BME Graduate Program Vie for Top Place in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship
Representing UR in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship will be Jessica Snyder (left and far right in inset photo) and (from left in inset photo) Luke Mortensen, Christina Devries and Chris Hiner.
Jessica Snyder, a biophysics graduate student and member of Jim McGrath's biomedical engineering lab, credits her work as an elite cross-country skier in helping her become the third place female finisher in the Rochester Chase Corporate Challenge last May, which contributed to the University of Rochester (UR) team's win of the mixed team title. The four-member team will now travel to Johannesburg, South Africa for the Championship in March.
Joining Jessica will be Luke Mortensen, a graduate student in Biomedical Engineering; Chris Hine, a graduate student in biochemistry and biophysics; and Christina Devries, a technical associate at the Center for Human Genetics and Molecular Pediatric Disease.
April 1, 2009
Tom Gaborski takes
lab-to-marketas VP of Life Sciences at SiMPore Inc.
Recent Ph.D. graduate Tom Gaborski is realizing his dream of entrepreneurship as VP of Life Sciences at UR spinoff, SiMPore, Inc. Tom helped found SiMPore Inc. in 2007 while he was a graduate student in the Ph.D. program. The company actually grew out of a chance experiment conducted by Tom and Chris Striemer, who was then a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Chris had inadvertently made the world's thinnest nanoporous membrane while developing new materials for silicon-based lasers. Tom and Chris designed and conducted experiments to test if the nanoscale pores could be used to separate proteins of different sizes and charges and discovered that they did so very efficiently. The commercial potential of this discovery was immediately obvious to Tom.
Along with their advisors, Chris and Tom founded SiMPore to commercialize the discovery. The company now employs 9 people and started selling membranes in January of 2009. Sales have been steadily increasing as advertising efforts payoff and global interest in the material grows. Tom wears many hats in the small start-up but his primary job is to lead the company in its development of products for the biological sciences. Under Tom's leadership, devices for protein and DNA purification are already in the SiMPore product pipeline.
January 21, 2009
SiMPore Inc., a company commercializing nanotechnology invented at the University of Rochester, has developed an ultra-thin microscope slide that significantly improves high-resolution imaging of nanoscale materials such as proteins, viruses, and carbon nanotubes. This is the first commercial application of a unique nanomembrane initially reported in Nature in 2007.
August 11, 2008
SiMPore, Inc., a spin-off company founded by engineers on River Campus, recently won the Golden Horseshoe Business Challenge, a $100,000 prize recognizing its business plan as the best in a region encompassing western New York and eastern Ontario.SiMPore also attracted $1.25 million in investments financed primarily by local Rochester high net worth individuals. In addition to VP of Life Sciences Tom Gaborski, (BME Ph.D. 2008), this venture involves interactions with numerous BME faculty members and students.
April 15, 2008
On April 1, 2008 UR/SiMPore, Inc. began a NYSTAR-sponsored collaboration to commercialize pnc-Si membranes. The Technology Transfer Incentive Program (TTIP) award was one of only 2 University-based technologies supported by NYSTAR this year. Specifically, University of Rochester was awarded $473,000 to work with SiMPore to use previously developed porous-silicon ultra filtration technology in biochemical separation.
- Dynamics of adhesion molecule domains on neutrophil membranes: surfing the dynamic cell topography. Eur Biophys J. 42, 851-5. (2013 Dec 01).
- High-performance, low-voltage electroosmotic pumps with molecularly thin silicon nanomembranes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110, 18425-30. (2013 Nov 12).
- Ultrathin silicon membranes for wearable dialysis. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 20, 508-15. (2013 Nov 01).