Friday, December 5, 2008

Webster Named as Co-director

Webster Named as Co-director of New Indo-U.S. Center for Biomaterials for Health Care

The Indian government just announced that Profs. Thomas J. Webster (Associate Professor, Division of Engineering and Department of Orthopedics, Brown University) and Bikramjit Basu (Associate Professor, Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, India Institute of Technology at Kanpur) will co-direct a new research center developing better biomaterials for health care. The center involves researchers from 8 universities and industries from the U.S. and India. Prof. Webster will direct all U.S. activities. The focus area for the Center will be in the following areas: (a) Metals and ceramic based orthopedic implant materials, with particular emphasis on Nanobiomaterials; (b) Fundamental investigation on cell-material interaction; (c) Polymer based soft tissue/scaffold materials for tissue engineering application; (d) Biomechanical characterization of implants and (e) A feasibility study on industrial scale production of metallic, ceramic and polymeric based implants/scaffolds. The Center will be funded by the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum.
In other news: Tom Webster's research into cartilage regeneration was a feature by Ivanhoe Broadcast News. The segment was carried by local television stations nationwide, including the ABC affiliate in Denver. Here is a link to the segment:

Monday, November 24, 2008

NanoVis, Inc earns 2nd in Venture Idol

NanoVis, Inc., a Brown start-up company, Gets 2nd Place in Venture Idol Competition

NanoVis, Inc., a Brown start-up company was awarded 2nd place in the Venture Idol
Competition held in Indianapolis, IN on Oct. 22nd, 2008. The award recognizes new companies that possess the most promising emerging technologies. Over 80 companies participated in the competition where company representatives describe company objectives in a style much like the “American Idol” competition. NanoVis, Inc. was formed based on technology created by Prof. Thomas J. Webster (Associate Professor, Division of Engineering and Orthopedics) to increase tissue growth through the use of nanotechnology. See for more information:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

AIChE Prize Winners

This year, in celebration of AIChE's centennial, the AIChE Annual Meeting featured special sessions that highlight chemical engineering innovations over the past 100 years, as well as a look into the future.
Six of our Chemical and Biochemical Engineering students attending the Fall National Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in Philadelphia presented their work in a student poster session: Karen Dannemiller, Shin Bowers, Andrea Jones, Daniel Vinson, Brian Lee, Ruben Spitz.
Of these six, three won prizes. Brown almost "swept" the "Environment I" category:
First Place to Daniel Vinson
Third Place to Ruben Spitz
In the "Environment II" category:
Second Place to Karen Dannemiller

Sunday, November 9, 2008

IGEM Jamboree

The 2008 Brown iGEM Teams worked on two projects--one a toxin detection & electrical reporting system using E. Coli bacteria and the second a genetic limiter circuit to control gene regulation in Yeast.

The team reports that this past month "both Brown teams were incredibly successful and we feel we made a great showing at the iGEM Jamboree at MIT. Brown Team 1 was honored to receive the award for Best Environment Project and to receive a Bronze Medal and Brown Two took home a Silver Medal! The medal requirements were even more stringent than last year, and they made it a point to say that this year's Bronze would have been a Gold medal last year! Thanks to everyone for supporting us and helping us work through our setbacks!"
More information can be found on their wiki:
Brown iGEM [International Genetically Engineered Machines] Team

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nanosatellite Launch Vehicle Conference

In the over 25 years since small, low cost space began its transition from curiosity to the integral element of world-wide civil and military space it is today, transportation to orbit has remained a critical constraint. Despite worldwide government and private investment exceeding $500M, there exists no dedicated micro / nano satellite launcher compatible with the low cost, rapid development schedule and reliability of their small satellite payloads.

On November 7, 2008, Brown University, in conjunction with NASA Ames Research Center, and NASA Rhode Island Space Grant will host a one day conference and workshop bringing together the government, commercial and academic teams planning these new vehicles, with some of their potential suppliers, end users and sponsors.

We had about 45 people attending, including students from Brown, USC, Stanford, University of Michigan. RI Space Grant provided student travel. We had speakers from several small entrepreneurial launch companies, NASA Ames Research Center, US Army Redstone Arsenal, Cornell, Brown Stanford and the Naval Postgraduate School.

Visit our website for more information on the event and our goals:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Book from Webster on Nanoparticle Safety

Thomas J. Webster Publishes New Book on “Safety of Nanoparticles: From Manufacturing to Medical Applications”

Thomas J. Webster (Associate Professor, Division of Engineering and Department of Orthopedics, Brown University) has just published a new book on the “Safety of Nanoparticles: From Manufacturing to Medical Applications” by Springer. In spite of the potential use of nanomaterials as tissue engineering devices, implants, biosensors, drug delivery devices, etc., there has yet to be a compilation of the risks associated with the in vivo use of nanomaterials. There are numerous and well-known risks because of the size of nanoparticles. For example, nanoparticles can cross cell membranes and enter the cytoplasm undetected. The aim of this book is to provide one of the first detailed overviews of how cells and tissues in the body deal with nanoparticles. This is important not only for implantable devices, but also for the manufacturing of nanophase materials when particles can be inhaled or enter the body through the skin. This new book compiles research at the intersection of nanoparticles and biological processes to determine if nanophase materials are safe to be manufactured, handled, and/or implanted for various medical applications.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Liu Finalist for GEMS Award

Huinan Liu Selected As Finalist for the American Ceramic Society Graduate Excellence in Materials Science (GEMS) Award

Huinan Liu (Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2008) was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Graduate Excellence in Materials Science (GEMS) Award. Huinan completed her Ph.D. under the direction of Prof. Thomas J. Webster (Materials, Biomedical Engineering, and Orthopedics) determining the potential of nanostructured ceramic polymer composites for regenerating bone. Huinan will give her award winning presentation at the MS&T’08 (Materials, Science and Technology Annual Conference) this Oct. 5 – 7, 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA

Monday, August 25, 2008

Brown hosts Computer Architecture Conference

As a joint effort of the Computing Research Association's Committee on the Status of Women (CRA-W) and the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC), Brown University hosted the second summer school workshop in Computer Architecture focused on Parallel Programming and Architectures. The workshop was held on August 20-21, 2008 and included a group of undergraduates (juniors or seniors) in computer science or computer engineering degree programs and related fields. The organizers included Iris Bahar, Brown University, Russ Joseph, Northwestern University, Margaret Martonosi, Princeton University, and Kunle Olukotun, Stanford University. A highlight was a question and answer session with former Turing Award winner, Frances Allen. We gratefully acknowledge support from CRA and CDC and the NSF BPC program. In addition, we also thank Sun Microsystems, IBM Research, and the Association for Computing Machinery for their generous contributions to help sponsor this event.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nanotech to regrow cartilage

Excerpt from full article available here:
Thomas Webster, an associate engineering professor at Brown University, and Brown researcher Dongwoo Khang, along with Grace Park, a research scientist (and one of Webster's former PhD students) at Becton, Dickinson and Company, a Franklin Lakes, N.J.–medical technology firm, say they grew cartilage cells by placing chondrocytes (cartilage-forming cells) and carbon nanotubes together on a polycarbonate urethane surface. As expected, cartilage cells grew around the nanotubes, which are so strong that scientists now use them to reinforce plastic. Researchers say they hastened new cell production by sending electrical surges through the nanotubes, which are also excellent conductors of electricity

Monday, July 14, 2008

Engineering course develops toys for rehabilitation

"Crisco was teaching an engineering course that combined industrial science students from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and engineering studies students at Brown University. The pair believed this was a perfect forum to bring creative minds together to create some prototypes for new therapeutic toys. Thus, Toys and Technology for Rehabilitation was formed."
News story link here:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NYT highlights CFL tech

The technology developed by Bob Hurt and his student Natalie Johnson in Engineering along with Steve Hamburg in Environmental Studies was written up in today's Science Times in the NY Times. In the print version it is on page D3.

The on-line NYT link here: 0d75d9294da22dfd&ei=5070&emc=eta1
The Brown press release here:

They have developed a material that can capture the mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs which goes into the environment if they are broken. I think this could be a very important technology and the inventors are getting a lot of interest in the IP.

Congratulations to Bob, Natalie, and Steve.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Major NIH Grant awarded

Associate Professor Diane Hoffman-Kim and Professor Tayhas Palmore earned a major NIH grant together.

Project Title: Quantifying Axon Growth in Complex Environments

Nerves fail to regenerate after injury and current medical practice is unable to manipulate effectively the process of nerve regeneration. The proposed research seeks to solve this problem by quantifying how guidance cues, both individually and in combination, promote axon growth in an inhibitory environment such as a nerve injury site.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sirinrath Sirivisoot Highlighted

Sirinrath Sirivisoot highlighted for talk at the Materials Research Society International Materials Research Conference in Chongqing, China

Engineering graduate student: Sirinrath Sirivisoot (advisor: Thomas J. Webster) was highlighted for her talk “Controlled Release of Antibiotics from Conductive Polymers for Improving Bone Implants” at the Materials Research Society International Materials Research Conference in Chongqing, China, Wednesday, June 11, 2008. Sirinrath gave a talk concerning the development of intelligent in situ orthopedic implant sensors that can sense the type of new tissue that is growing and respond accordingly. For example, if new bone growth is not occurring, this sensor can release bone growth factors to increase bone growth. As another example, if infection is sitting in, the sensor can release antibiotics.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Brown hosts regional bioengineering conference

The Northeast Bioengineering Conference was organized by Thomas Webster, associate professor of engineering and the orthopedics at Brown. For more information about the event, go to

Highlights included: Arto Nurmikko, the L. Herbert Ballou University Professor of Engineering and Physics at Brown, spoke about new implantable brain sensors being developed at the university.

In addition, there were dozens of short presentations on research being conducted at universities across the Northeast, and there were poster displays highlighting other projects, as well as opportunities for students in these fields to get together.

Read the Providence Business News coverage here.