Monday, June 29, 2009

Superfund renewed to create a safer and healthier RI

Brown's Superfund Research Program (SRP) brings together researchers from engineering, biology and medicine, geological sciences, and sociology to investigate human health risks of environmental contamination, and to design new technologies to mitigate those risks. The grant amount is $15.4 million over a period of five years (April 2009-March 2014). This new award serves as a renewal to our original grant, which began in 2005 and expired in April 2009.

The vision of the grant is to create a safer and healthier Rhode Island through basic and applied research, education, training, and community outreach related to health effects and remediation of chemical contamination. We have partnerships with the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and many local community groups.

Here is the SRP website:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nanoparticles eliminate bacterial infection on prosthetic

Infected implants now have a foe. Brown University researchers have created a nanoparticle that can penetrate a bacterial-produced film on prosthetics and kill the bacteria. The finding, published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, is the first time that iron-oxide nanoparticles have been shown to eliminate a bacterial infection on an implanted prosthetic device.

Press release here:

Resulted in July 9th Providence Journal story:
Nano “cannonballs” bash infected implants
Patients suffering from infected prostheses may now have an ally in tiny “cannonballs.” The nanoparticles created by graduate student Erik Taylor and engineering associate professor Thomas Webster have been shown in lab tests to kill bacteria that congregate on implants.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hydrodynamics of Microorganisms

Professor Powers' article, Hydrodynamics of Swimming Mircoorganisms, was accepted this week in Reports on Progress in Physics.
Preview the article here:
Cell motility in viscous fluids is ubiquitous and affects many biological processes, including reproduction, infection, and the marine life ecosystem. Here we review the biophysical and mechanical principles of locomotion at the small scales relevant to cell swimming, tens of microns and below. At this scale, inertia is unimportant and the Reynolds number is small. Our emphasis is on the simple physical picture and fundamental flow physics phenomena in this regime. We first give a brief overview of the mechanisms for swimming motility, and of the basic properties of flows at low Reynolds number, paying special attention to aspects most relevant for swimming, such as resistance matrices for solid bodies, flow singularities, and kinematic requirements for net translation. Then we review classical theoretical work on cell motility, in particular early calculations of swimming kinematics with prescribed stroke and the application of resistive-force theory and slender-body theory to flagellar locomotion. After examining the physical means by which flagella are actuated, we outline areas of active research, including hydrodynamic interactions, biological locomotion in complex fluids, the design of small-scale artificial swimmers, and the optimization of locomotion strategies.

In addition, some of his recent work was highlighted on the NSF news page:
Scientists studying how marine bacteria move have discovered that a sharp variation in water current segregates right-handed bacteria from their left-handed brethren, impelling the microbes in opposite directions. This finding and the possibility of quickly and cheaply implementing the segregation of two-handed objects in the laboratory could have a big impact on industries like the pharmaceutical industry, for which the separation of right-handed from left-handed molecules can be crucial to drug safety.
More here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RI Woman of the Year

The Rhode Island Commission on Women (RICW) is pleased to announce the 2009 Women of the Year, Lynn Ewart-Paine, ’85 ’86 Sc.M. ’90 Ph.D., Science and Technology. This award recognizes influential women in Rhode Island who demonstrate a history of individual achievement, or who have made lasting and positive contributions in the community to help elevate the presence of women and improve the quality of life for women in the state.

Created in 1989, the Women of the Year Award celebrates the work of pioneering Rhode Island women who are influential in areas such as the arts, business, economic development, employment, education, health, legal rights and politics. These women have a positive impact on the lives of women and/or girls in our state through their work as role models and mentors.