Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Magnetic nanoparticles: biomedical applications and challenges" Among Most Read Articles in Journal of Materials Chemistry

An article written by graduate student Nhiem Tran and Associate Professor Thomas J. Webster, ‘Magnetic nanoparticles: biomedical applications and challenges’ was one of the top ten most-read articles from the online version of Journal of Materials Chemistry for October 2010.

Here is an abstract of the article:
The progress in the development of magnetic nanoparticle based therapies for various biomedical applications is reviewed here. Most significantly, magnetic nanoparticles have been widely used in drug delivery and hyperthermia treatment for cancer. However, recent applications of magnetic nanoparticles demonstrate their promise towards decreasing implant infection and increasing tissue growth. To build the most effective magnetic nanoparticle systems for various biomedical applications, particle characteristics including size, surface chemistry, magnetic properties and toxicity have to be fully investigated. In this review, several new applications of magnetic nanoparticles in the medical arena as well as remaining challenges for such clinical use are discussed.

Full link:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Researchers report data on head impacts in college football

Credit: Maggie Rowland/The Dartmouth
Joseph Crisco, Brown professor of orthopaedics and director of the bioengineering laboratory, and Russell Fiore, Brown’s head athletic trainer, have measured the frequency and location of head impacts in college football, position-by-position. Defensive linemen take the most hits; quarterbacks are the only players to be hit mostly from behind. Crisco, Fiore, and their collaborators report their findings in the Journal of Athletic Training.

Using special helmets equipped with accelerometers, researchers at Brown, Dartmouth and Virginia Tech tallied up significant blows to the head among players on their football teams during the 2007 season. The most battered player sustained 1,444 hits during practice and games. The study also reported on the direction of the hits and the number of hits by player position, leading to insights including that quarterbacks are hit from behind more than from any other direction.

Full report online: healthland.time.com/2010/11/19/1444/
See news release: news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2010/11/helmets

The Physics Behind Coffee Rings

Shreyas MandreAssistant Professor of Engineering
Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University
Understanding the formation of ring-shaped stains under a coffee mug could lead to advances in printing, making industrial coatings, fabricating electronics, and designing new medicines. Shreyas Mandre, assistant professor of engineering, and collaborators have devised a predictive model that combines laboratory studies of microscopic glass particles in solution with mathematical theories to predict the existence, thickness and length of the banded ring patterns that formed. “Controlling the ring deposition process would be useful for creating such things as new microphysics tools operating at a scale where pliers or other traditional tools for moving particles cannot operate,” Mandre said.

Full report online: news.oneindia.in/2010/11/24/thephysics-behind-coffeerings.html
See news release: today.brown.edu/faculty/2010/mandre

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fourth Annual SWE Extreme Gingerbread House Competition

The Brown University Society for Women Engineers in collaboration with the University's Engineers Without Borders student organization will be sponsoring its fourth annual "Extreme Gingerbread House Competition" on Friday, December 3, from 4:30 - 6:30 in the lobby of the Barus and Holley building on 184 Hope Street.

Event Description:
Twenty-two teams of 3-5 students and professors will be allowed to pre-register for the competition. Any additional teams that express interest will be placed on a waitlist in the event that a team does not arrive. If the team has not arrived within five minutes of the beginning of the event, their spot will be given to a team on the waitlist or a team that has shown up at the event without registering.

Each team will be supplied with two boxes of graham crackers, two Ziploc bags of royal icing, and a tray on which to construct their house. Additionally, all teams will be provided with an empty sandwich size Ziploc bag for taking the communal supplies. Foods such as candy canes, m&ms, teddy grahams, shredded coconut, etc., will be kept on a central table. At the start of the one hour time slot of building, one member of each team will be allowed to take the empty Ziploc bag to the communal table and fill the bag with whatever supplies they feel are most valuable for their team’s house. All food items will be provided by SWE at the event; teams are NOT allowed to bring any of their own food.

The teams will have one hour to construct their houses out of the provided food. Houses should be designed to follow the criteria listed below:
- The house must fit on the provided tray.
- House dimensions must exceed 6”x6”x6”.
- The house must be hollow.
- The maximum wall thickness is 1”.
- The house should be designed to withstand earthquakes.

Teams are allowed to bring any tools that they think will be helpful such as knives, drills, etc. Teams are responsible for bringing the necessary power connections/extension cords. If you plan on using tools, please ensure you know how to use them safely and plan on bring the necessary personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses. No chemicals can be used during the manufacturing of the house; the house and all its contents must remain edible at all times.

After exactly one hour, the teams will be forced to stop construction on their houses. The houses will initially be judged before a panel of three faculty judges (TBD) on (1) Attractiveness of the House [1-10 points] (2) Novel use of Building Materials [1-5 points] (3) Use of Available Space (ie decorations other than the house) [1-5 points]. Additionally, judges will have the option to select one “wildcard” house after viewing all the completed houses. Judges will award a bonus of three points to the house if they feel that one house was exceptional in a way that was not represented in the other scores; this is optional and at the judges discretion. The sum of these components will be used as the team’s aesthetic score.

The second portion of judging will be on the ability of the house to withstand a simulated earthquake. The tray will be attached to a shake table and cycled through a regimen moving from a low frequency to a high frequency. Time will start when the shake table is turned on, and will be stopped when part of the house falls off the main structure; this includes decorations attached to the house, but not “environmental decorations” that are simply on the tray.

After all the houses have been tested, the maximum amount of time on the shake table to make a gingerbread house break will be used to calculate the scores.

Total group scores will be calculated by combining the aesthetic score (out of 25 points) and the stability score (out of 50 points) for a total score out of 75 points. The team with the most points will be considered the winner. The team with the second highest number of points will be given second place and so forth. The top three teams will be awarded a prize.

EWB Collaboration
This year Engineers Without Borders is focusing on helping a Haitian orphanage that was damaged during the earthquake in January, 2010. There are three main projects that the team hopes to implement in Haiti during trips over winter, spring and summer breaks. The first of these projects is designing a more fuel efficient smoke-less stove to reduce wood use at the orphanage and also to protect the children and staff from upper respiratory disease. Secondly, Brown EWB is helping to install a sanitation system to prevent the spread of disease. Thirdly, they are planning on building a structure that can serve both as a school and as housing for the orphans, who are currently living in tents.

When registering, each team will be asked to pay a registration fee of $6.00 to enter the event. Additionally, they will be supplied with an information packet about the current situation in Haiti and how Brown EWB is helping and what everyone can do to help. Teams are of course able to donate more money to the organization if they feel compelled, but it will have no influence on their supplies etc.

At the event, EWB will also have a table with information on the current situation in Haiti, what their project entails and what they need to implement these designs. This will also be an area where other visitors will be able to learn more about the program and donate if they wish.

All proceeds from the event will go to Brown University Engineers Without Borders.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brown Engineers Finish First and Second at AIChE Competition

Students in the Brown chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to compete in a student poster competition. For the second consecutive year, a Brown engineer has returned to College Hill with a first place trophy.

Brown's biomedical engineering student, Melissa Tsang '11 brought home the first place trophy. Tsang competed in the materials engineering and sciences category among 46 participants divided into three groups. She conducted her project, entitled "Novel Polyurethane-Carbon Nanofiber Composite for Bladder Cancer Applications," in collaboration with Associate Professor Thomas Webster and Dr. YoungWook Chun, a Ph.D. candidate in Professor Webster's lab.

In the environmental category, Nattie Cooper '12 took home a second place award.

Melissa Tsang '11 at the center, BME 
Brown's other AIChE student poster competitors included: James Saraidaridis '11 (supervisor Professor Tayhas Palmore), Theresa Raimondo '11 (supervisors Associate Professor Anubhav Tripathi and graduate student Stephanie McCalla), Lakshmi Madhavan '11 (supervisor Professor J. M. Calo), David Sonshine '11 (supervisor Professor Robert Hurt), and Daniel Prendergast '11 (supervisors Professor Eric Suuberg and graduate student James Rice).

"Every year the competition gets more and more competitive than I have seen in previous years," said Indrek Kulaots, lecturer in Engineering.

Prof. Shenoy and Rassin Grantab study the strength of graphene

Science Magazine reports in the November 12, 2010 edition that graphene’s strength lies in its defects. Researchers, including Vivek Shenoy, professor of engineering, and graduate student Rassin Grantab, find that the juncture at which graphene sheets meet does not compromise the material’s strength. These so-called grain boundaries are so strong, in fact, that the sheets are nearly as strong as pure graphene. The trick lies in the angles at which the individual sheets are stitched together.

Full report online: www.sciencemagnews.com/graphenes-strength-lies-in-its-defects.html
See news release: news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2010/11/graphene
(Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University)

Friday, November 5, 2010

BrainGate2 featured in article by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) is one of the Institutes that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH is the Federal government's focal point for the support of biomedical research.

"BrainGate2 is the brainchild of a group of neuroscientists and neuroengineers based at Brown University in Providence, R. I. NIDCD grantee Leigh Hochberg, M.D., Ph.D., affiliated with Brown and the VA Medical Center in Providence, and Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, leads the effort to make this investigational technology a communication tool for the locked-in. Without even moving an eyelid, someone with locked-in syndrome only has to imagine moving his or her hand on a computer mouse to make the cursor move on the computer screen."

Full feature story located here:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Webster edits new book: Nanotechnology Enabled In Situ Sensors for Monitoring Health

Until recently, there has been little research into how to use nanotechnology and sensors in health monitoring. Nanotechnology Enabled In Situ Sensors for Monitoring Health is written to coalesce research efforts to design sensors based on nanotechnology that can be placed into the body to monitor health. Nanotechnology is being used at an unprecedented pace to both diagnose and treat diseases, rather than conventional approaches which diagnose and treat diseases in a different manner.

Nanotechnology Enabled In Situ Sensors for Monitoring Health is a must-have for medical researchers, biomedical engineers and surgeons seeking a comprehensive overview of this important subject and examples of how In Situ sensors are being used in the diagnosis and monitoring diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and orthopedic problems.

Drawing upon the collective knowledge of renowned experts, Thomas Webster has assembled a wide-ranging treatise that includes:

  • Nanotechnology for cancer sensing and treatment
  • Monitoring tissue healing through nano sensors
  • Monitoring inflammation and infection via implanted nano sensors
  • DNA based nanotechnology biosensors for surgical diagnosis
  • Carbon nanotube based orthopedic implant sensors
Update - Another book edited by Professor Webster and former Professor Lysaght:

The worldwide demand for organ transplants far exceeds the number of available donor organs. Consequently some patients die while waiting for a transplant. Synthetic alternatives are therefore imperative to improve the quality of, and in some cases save, people’s lives. Advances in biomaterials have generated a range of materials and devices for use either outside the body or as implants to replace or assist functions that may have been lost through disease or injury. Biomaterials for artificial organs reviews the latest developments in biomaterials and investigates how they can be used to improve the quality and efficiency of artificial organs.

With its distinguished editors and international team of contributors Biomaterials for artificial organs will prove an invaluable resource to researchers, scientists and academics concerned with the advancement of artificial organs.

Dr Michael Lysaght was the Founder and Director Emeritus of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at Brown University, USA and a retired member of the Brown Faculty. He sadly passed away before he could see this finished book and remains a widely recognised and well-respected figure in the field of biomedical engineering for his contributions to organ replacement technology.

Dr Thomas Webster is an Associate Professor for the School of Engineering and Department of Orthopedics at Brown University. He directs the Nanomedicine Laboratory which designs, synthesises and evaluates nanomaterials for various implant applications and is noted for his work in this area.