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Institute for Engineering in Medicine

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05/30/17 - Will Durfee and Art Erdman Receive Entrepreneurship Faculty of the Year Award

IEM Executive Committee Members Dr. William K. Durfee, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the IEM- affiliated 3D Printing Core, and Dr. Arthur G. Erdman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the IEM-Affiliated Medical Devices Center, received the Entrepreneurship Faculty of the Year Award at the 2017 Founder's Day event for the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, Carlson School of Management. The award honors Drs. Durfee and Erdman's leadership in the New Product Design and Business Development Course, a collaboration between the Carlson School of Management and the College of Science and Engineering. In this course, teams of business and engineering students work through the process of developing a working prototype and associated business plan for a product to be launched by a sponsoring company. Since its inception in 1993, the course has enrolled more than 600 students who have worked on more than 120 projects. Two Medical School faculty members also teach the course.

05/30/17 - Perry Hackett Receives Impact Award from the Office for Technology Commercialization

IEM Member Dr. Perry B. Hackett, Professor of Generics, Cell Biology and Development, has received the Impact Award from the Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC) for the very positive results of his Sleeping Beauty Transposon System, a genome engineering platform that can re-direct a person's immune system to identify and attack cancer cells. The system has been very effective at treating lymphoma patients, with up to 80% experiencing clinical remission or absence of disease. As reported by Twin Cities Business, the system has led to a $100+ million licensing agreement ($32 million of which will go to the University of Minnesota) for a resulting leukemia drug and a nearly $1 billion investment by Merck for a resulting blood cancer immune-oncology platform called CAR-T. In addition, the Sleeping Beauty Transposon System has led to the launch of a number of genome engineering companies in various fields and is used globally by thousands of scientists. The OTC Impact Award recognizes a researcher whose innovation has most positively and most broadly impacted global society and improved quality of life.

Who Are the U. of M.'s Most Entrepreneurial Researchers?

05/30/17 - Allison Hubel Receives ISBER Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biobanking

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Allison Hubel, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the IEM-affiliated Biopreservation Core Resource (BioCoR), received the Outstanding Achievement in Biobanking Award from the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER). The award is designed to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of biobanking. It can be given for a single outstanding achievement or for a life-time body of outstanding work in the field. In its announcement of the award, the ISBER recognized Dr. Hubel for her research that developed fit-for-purpose protocols for preservation, developed technology to improve the preservation and processing of cells, and for having developed the understanding of molecular mechanisms of damage during preservation. The announcement concluded that Dr. Hubel's "leadership in the cryopreservation field makes her a very deserving recipient of one of ISBER's most prestigious awards."

2017 ISBER Award Winners

05/30/17 - Jerrold Vitek Discusses Abbott's New DBS Lead with Star Tribune

IEM Member Dr. Jerrold L. Vitek, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, discussed with the Star Tribune, the advantages of a new, segmented lead for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to treat movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia, and essential tremor. The Infinity DBS Lead, manufactured by Abbott (formerly, St. Jude Medical), is unique from other leads, which distribute electric current spherically, in that it has the capability to deliver the current to specific areas of the brain where it is most needed and to avoid areas where the current could lead to unwanted side-effects. Dr. Vitek, who describes the lead's capability as "the first real advance" in the field during the past 20 years, says that "being able to sculpt this current field allows us to push current in directions that improve motor signs while avoiding regions that induce side effects."

Abbott's Infinity Deep Brain Stimulation System is Rare Technology Advance

05/30/17 - David Boulware Authors Study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Impact of HIV-Associated Cryptococcal Meningitis

IEM Member Dr. David R. Boulware, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine, was the senior author of a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on the impact of Cryptococcal Meningitis in people infected with HIV. The condition, which affects tissues that cover the spinal cord and brain, can be easily identified and inexpensively treated. Yet, the disease is responsible for approximately 15% of the 1,100,000 deaths related to AIDS due to patients entering HIV treatment too late and a lack of access to the medication needed to treat it in the sub-Saharan African countries where it is the most prevalent. Dr. Boulware states that "Still too many HIV-infected people enter care late and Cryptococcal Meningitis is an unfortunate excellent metric of HIV treatment program failure. In 2017, no person with HIV should develop fungal meningitis, yet in a failed cascade of HIV care, too often Cryptococcus is a final death sentence."

Despite Availability of Life-Saving Medication Annual Deaths Due to Fungal Meningitis Are Still Over 180,000
Global Burden of Disease of HIV-Associated Cryptococcal Meningitis: An Updated Analysis

05/30/17 - Paul Iaizzo Leads Study Showing that Delta-Opioid Agonists can Minimize Cardiac Injury Following Heart Procedures

Dr. Paul A. Iaizzo, Professor of Surgery, IEM Associate Director for Education and Outreach, and Principal Investigator of the IEM-Affiliated Visible Heart Laboratory (VHL), led a study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine (the Featured Article) that demonstrated the effectiveness of a post-conditioning therapy for minimizing damage to a heart following cardiac procedures and during reperfusion (when blood flow is restored). Dr. Iaizzo's team tested a delta opioid receptor agonist as a supplement to an existing reperfusion buffer for reanimated isolated swine hearts and found that it improved the microvascular functionality of the heart compared to control subjects. These results suggest that this may be a promising treatment for many people who undergo cardiac procedures involving reperfusion. "The opportunity to utilize post-conditioning pharmacological agents to improve cardiac function will have significant applications in both cardiac surgery and transplantation," says Dr. Iaizzo.

Delta Opioid Agonists Can Attenuate Cardiac Injury
Pharmacological Postconditioning with Delta Opioid Attenuates Myocardial Reperfusion Injury in Isolated Porcine Hearts

05/30/17 - Rita Perlingeiro and Colleagues Identify Endoglin as a Potential Target for Treatment of Acute Leukemias

IEM Member Dr. Rita Perlingeiro, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology, and her colleagues were published in the journal Blood for their research showing that the receptor endoglin is a potential target for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-cell ALL), as it is expressed in the majority of the cancerous cells. In addition, the research showed that a drug, TRC 105, manufactured by Tracon Pharmaceuticals, inhibited the progression of these leukemias. The findings are especially significant, as the National Cancer Institute estimates that AML will be diagnosed in approximately 21,380 Americans in 2017 and that 10,590 will die from the disease, while the equivalent numbers for B-cell ALL are 5,970 and 1440, respectively. In 2016, Dr. Perlingeiro and her IEM member colleagues demonstrated the role endoglin plays in the embryonic development of blood and cardiac cells.

Endoglin: A Novel Target for Therapeutic Intervention in Acute Leukemias Revealed in Xenographic Mouse Modelsy

05/30/17 - Michael McAlpine Discusses Bionic 3-D Printing Applications with NBC News

IEM member Dr. Michael C. McAlpine, Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, discussed with NBC News the potential of printing 3-D devices on a human body. In research recently published in the journal Advanced Materials, Dr. McAlpine demonstrated how 3-D printing can be used to fabricate stretchable, electronic tactile sensors onto curved surfaces, including human skin, as the materials can be printed and cured at room temperature. Dr. McAlpine says that this capability could eventually make it possible for a variety of electronic devices to be printed onto a human body and for this to be done in mobile environments from a portable 3-D printer that could be carried around in a backpack. "Using only raw materials, you can make basically any type of device - that's a complete paradigm shift that hasn't been implemented before," says Dr. McAlpine.

NBC News: 3-D Printing Technology Brings Bionic Abilities Within Our Grasp

05/30/17 - Andrew Grande Discusses Stroke Awareness with WCCO

As part of Stroke Awareness Month, IEM Member Dr. Andrew W. Grande, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, discussed with WCCO the types of strokes, their symptoms and the resulting actions that patients and bystanders should take, to generate more awareness of stroke among the general public - knowledge that could help people to minimize the long-term damage of stroke and, in some cases, save lives. A simple rule of thumb for recognizing and acting upon the more-common ischemic stroke is to remember the acronym F.A.S.T., which stands for: Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty (both speaking and understanding speech) and Time to Call 911! Dr. Grande says that if patients get the care they need within 3 to 6 hours of the onset of these symptoms, the damage and resulting symptoms can be reversed.

News and Views with Susie Jones

05/30/17 - Timothy O'Brien Discusses Advance in Production of Cerebral Cell Structures with Duluth News Tribune

IEM member Dr. Timothy D. O'Brien, Professor, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, discussed with the Duluth News Tribune the significance of his research that was recently published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine to produce brain organoids from human induced pluripotent stem cells using a cell matrix technology being commercialized by a company in Two Harbors, Minnesota, that allows scientists to grow cerebral tissue in more natural, three-dimensional structures. "This is potentially really important because they could be used for development of drugs for neurological problems - to check for beneficial or toxic effects of drugs," says Dr. O'Brien, who adds that the end result is "much more like a real brain than what people have had access to before." Another valuable aspect of the technology is its versatility. "One of the interesting twists from this is since the stem cells can be derived from anybody, they can be derived from patients with Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's ... to use as a disease-in-a-dish sort of model," says Dr. O'Brien.

Better Brains: BRTI Life Sciences Grows Biotech Success in Two Harbors

04/28/17 - Brenda Ogle & Colleagues Create 3D-Bioprinted Patch to Heal Scarred Heart Tissue

IEM Member Dr. Brenda M. Ogle, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and her colleagues have created a 3D-bioprinted patch that can help to heal heart tissue following a heart attack. As reported by KSTP TV and KARE 11, the research, done in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin and University of Alabama-Birmingham, used laser-based 3D-bioprinting to apply human stem cells to a matrix, which grew and synchronously beat in a dish. The resulting patch was then applied to non-functioning scarred tissue in mouse hearts, which showed improved function after four weeks. This achievement is especially significant because survivors of heart attacks often permanently lose some heart function. "We don't get new muscle cells when they are damaged, instead, we get scar tissue," says Dr. Ogle, who has been working on the challenge of regenerating damaged heart tissue for 15 years. The next steps will be to test the patch on larger animals before, ultimately, testing it on humans. The research was funded, in-part, by IEM.

Tiny Patch Beats Like Human Heart, Could Change Treatment After Heart Attacks

04/28/17 - Vipin Kumar Selected to 2017 Class of SIAM Fellows

IEM Member Dr. Vipin Kumar, Regents Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, has been selected as a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) "for contributions to data mining and high-performance computing." Dr. Kumar's activities have included serving as Co-founder and Steering Committee Chair of the SIAM International Conference on Data Mining, as well as in numerous other leadership roles in this field. SIAM Fellows are nominated by their peers "for their exemplary research as well as outstanding service to the community." Dr. Kumar and other members of the 2017 Class of SIAM Fellows will be recognized at the society's annual meeting, to be held July 10th to 14th in Pittsburgh.

2017 Class of SIAM Fellows

04/28/17 - Theresa Reineke Named Distinguished McKnight Professor

IEM Member Dr. Theresa M. Reineke, Professor of Chemistry, has been named a 2017 Distinguished McKnight Professor. Dr. Reineke's research theme is "Innovating Polymeric Materials for Therapeutic Delivery and Sustainability" and her research is focused on the improvement of human health and the environment through pioneering contributions to the field of polymer chemistry. The Distinguished McKnight University Professorship program recognizes outstanding faculty members who have recently achieved full professor status. Recipients hold the title "Distinguished McKnight University Professor" for the duration of their employment at the University of Minnesota.

Distinguished McKnight University Professors

04/28/17 - Rumi Faizer Discusses with KARE 11 Value of New Method to Screen for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

IEM Member Dr. Rumi Faizer, Associate Professor of Surgery and Chief, Division of Vascular Surgery, discussed with KARE 11 the value of a new, life-saving screening method that was developed at the University of Minnesota to identify patients who have the highest likelihood of developing abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), potentially lethal and sometimes symptomless vascular condition in which the aorta, the main vessel through which blood is delivered throughout the body, becomes enlarged. Dr. Faizer says that what makes the University of Minnesota's screening unique from those at other centers is that it evaluates patients for whom screening would not be appropriate, targeting only those patients who would benefit the most from it. The screening has already found 29 aneurysms in over 1,500 patients tested so far with annual ultrasounds, and efforts are underway to build upon that success, using CT scanning. "We've developed a system to identify who needs to be screened and then we are trying to work on new ways to do that screening," says Dr. Faizer.

New U. of M. Screening Saves Man's Life

04/28/17 - Michael Kyba Discusses Research on Type of Muscular Dystrophy with Fox 9

IEM Member Dr. Michael Kyba, CCRF Endowed Professor in Pediatric Cancer Research, discussed with Fox 9 his research on facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSH), a common type of muscular dystrophy in which skeletal muscles degenerate over time, starting with the facial muscles. Dr. Kyba says that "one of the saddest things that happens" to patients suffering from FSH is that "they are robbed of their ability to smile." However, Dr. Kyba is optimistic that a treatment for the disease can be developed, due to the identification of the gene that causes it. "The hope comes down to there is actual work being done to discover the drug. About 10 years ago, we didn't know what gene caused this disease," says Dr. Kyba. "That's our hope that someday in the near future we'll have candidates that we can actually take to clinical trials."

U. of M. Muscular Dystrophy Research Gives Patients Hope

04/28/17 - Chetan Shenoy Discusses a Less-Invasive Imaging Approach in Management of Stable Angina with TCTMD

IEM Member Dr. Chetan Shenoy, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, discussed with TCTMD the value of stress cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) perfusion imaging in the management of patients with stable angina, compared to that of the more-invasive angiography plus fractional flow reserve (FFR). The two approaches were compared in a recent trial. "As someone who does stress CMR, the trial results were not very surprising to me," says Dr. Shenoy. As a result of the findings, Dr. Shenoy says, "Stress CMR can and should be used as the first-line test for patients with stable angina and intermediate-to-high risk of coronary artery disease, rather than invasive coronary angiography."

CMR Perfusion Imaging Holds Its Own Against Invasive Approach to Managing Stable Angina

03/29/17 - Registration for Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium on April 13th & 14th is Rapidly Approaching its Limit

The 5th Annual Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium (MNS) will be held on April 13th and 14th, 2017 at the Commons Hotel on the University of Minnesota's East Bank campus. Members of Minnesota's medical technology community are invited to attend this two-day event to discuss recent research and clinical developments in the field of neuromodulation. This year, MNS is proud to host thought leaders from academia, industry, and government who will be presenting on various aspects of neuromodulation and neurotechnology. It will include a number of oral talks in plenary sessions and nearly 120 poster presentations from 58 different institutions, 24 non-profit organizations, 16 corporations, and 16 countries. Spaces are limited, so register soon to be guaranteed a spot. Registration and other information is available at

2017 Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium Scientific Program

03/29/17 - John Bischof & IEM Colleagues Achieve Breakthrough in Quest to Preserve Organs for Transplantation

Dr. John C. Bischof, IEM Associate Director for Development, and Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, along with his IEM colleagues, have successfully demonstrated a method to safely warm vitrified tissue, a major step toward cryopreservation of human tissues and organs for transplantation. A barrier to preserving large tissues and organs by cooling (or vitrification) is that the tissue crystalizes and can also crack during the warming process, damaging the tissue. As reported by the Associated Press, Dr. Bischof's team has overcome this by using iron oxide nanoparticles that, when heated by radiofrequency fields, allow for a uniform and rapid warming of the vitrified tissue. This method, known as nanowarming, could eventually be applied to entire organs, and ultimately result in helping to meet tissue and organ demand of those needing transplants. However, this will require more years of research to achieve. "We are cautiously optimistic that we're going to be able to get into a kidney or maybe a heart. But we are not, in any way, declaring victory here," says Dr. Bischof. Other IEM members on Dr. Bischof's team included IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Christy L. Haynes, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Chemistry; Dr. Alex Fok, Professor of Restorative Sciences; and Dr. Michael Garwood, Professor of Radiology-CMRR. The research has been published in Science Translational Medicine.

First Step to Help Preserved Organs Survive the Deep Freeze

03/29/17 - Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari Leads University's Joining of Consortium to Bolster Advanced Tissue Biofabrication

IEM Member Dr. Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, and Director of the 3D Bioprinting Facility, led the submission process for the University of Minnesota's successful bid with the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), a consortium of nearly 100 organizations spanning industry, government, academia and the non-profit sector, for a new manufacturing institute partly funded by the DoD. Approximately $80 million from the federal government will be combined with more than $200 million in cost share to support the development of tissue and organ manufacturing capabilities. "This initiative is a great way to build our bioprinting and education expertise in a collaborative way with other leading organizations," says Dr. Panoskaltsis-Mortari. "Regenerative medicine and biofabrication is an opportunity area for our healthcare and manufacturing industries, and we're excited to be part of an effort that could benefit patients and our economy."

As part of its role in the consortium, which will be supported with a $3.5 million budget, the University of Minnesota is expected to lead the development and expansion of training curricula for K-12, 2- and 4-year colleges, industry professionals and veterans, that will educate students about Tissue and Organ Biofabrication, 3D Bioprinting and Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Panoskaltsis-Mortari expects allocation and scope of work to be finalized by the summer of 2017. The Institute for Engineering in Medicine, the IEM-affiliated Medical Devices Center, Stem Cell Institute, Molecular & Cell Therapy Facility, 3D Bioprinting Facility, STEM Education Center and many others will play vital roles in this initiative.

U. of M. Part of Public-Private Partnership to Bolster Regenerative Medicine

03/29/17 - David Odde Discusses Effort to Engineer Bacteria-Eating Cells with Baltimore Sun

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. David J. Odde, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, discussed with the Baltimore Sun a research effort at Johns Hopkins University to engineer amoebas, single-cell organisms, to become bacteria-eating cells. While the research is focused upon using the cells to kill the bacteria that cause Legionnaire's Disease, and a drug-resistant bacteria that affects hospital patients, what is learned from how the cells can be engineered could lead to advances in treating other diseases, including cancer. Dr. Odde says that a key factor is getting the cells to sense the bacteria. "They might make new discoveries about how these systems cross talk to each other which will be really valuable for this project and many other projects," says Dr. Odde.

Hopkins Scientists Are Engineering Cells to Eat Deadly Bacteria

03/29/17 - Christopher Weight Discusses Prostate Cancer Surgery with KARE 11

Dr. Christopher J. Weight, Assistant Professor of Urology, and IEM Member, was interviewed by KARE 11 to discuss prostate cancer surgery, soon before Governor Dayton had surgery to treat his prostate cancer at the Mayo Clinic on March 2nd. Dr. Weight says that most of these procedures are performed with robotic assistance and that they are among the most common types of cancer surgeries performed in the U.S. "It used to be all done through an open incision, which was about an 8 centimeter incision going from the belly button down to the pubic bone," says Dr. Weight. "Now it's usually five or six small incisions about 8 millimeters, which is a little bit smaller than the tip of my finger."

Dayton Set for Prostate Surgery

03/29/17 - Marc Tompkins Co-Authors a Study Published in the Journal Pediatrics on Increase of ACL Tears Among 6 to 18 Year-Olds

IEM Member Dr. Marc Tompkins, Assistant Professor of Orthopeadic Surgery, co-authored a study in the journal Pediatrics that showed an increase in ACL tears among children 6 to 18 years of age, over the 20-year period of 1994 to 2013. The increase of 2%, annually, during that period has been especially pronounced for girls. While the reason for the increase was unclear, Dr. Tompkins says that it could be due to increased specialization in a particular sport, greater intensity and force of play, and a general increase in sports participation among girls during those 20 years. However, he notes, it could also be due to better diagnostics. "We are getting better as a medical community at diagnosing ACL injury," says Dr. Tompkins. The first author of the study was Dr. Nicholas A. Beck, a Medical Resident in Orthopaedic Surgery.

Incidence of ACL Tears May be Increasing, Especially Among High School-Age Girls
ACL Tears in School-Aged Children and Adolescents Over 20 Years

03/29/17 - Emil Lou Discusses Increase of Colon & Colorectal Cancers Among Millennials & Generation Xers

Dr. Emil Lou, Assistant Professor of Medicine, and IEM Member, discussed with the University's Health Talk a recent study showing an increase of colon and colorectal cancers among Millennials and Generation Xers. Compared to Americans born in 1950, those born in 1990 are twice is likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer and four times as likely to be diagnosed with rectal cancer. Dr. Lou says that "the findings of this study are extremely alarming," and that "they indicate a strong need to increase awareness among medical professionals that young adults can actually get colorectal cancer." Possible causes of the increase could include lifestyle factors of people 20 to 30 years of age, such as a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, excess weight and a low consumption of fiber, all of which have also contributed to an epidemic of obesity.

Colon and Colorectal Cancers on the Rise in U.S. Millennials

02/27/17 - Michael McAlpine Receives Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)

Dr. Michael C. McAlpine, Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and IEM Member, was one of 102 researchers and scientists, named by President Obama on January 9th, to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Dr. McAlpine was one of 23 recipients whose research was part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Science and Technology Policy, within the Executive Office of the President, coordinates the award, and PECASE Recipients are selected "for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach."

President Obama Honors Federally-Funded Early Career Scientists

02/27/17 - Lana Yarosh and Bernadette Gillick Named McKnight Land-Grant Professors

IEM Member Dr. Lana Yarosh, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; and Dr. Bernadette T. Gillick, Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Member of the IEM-Affiliated Center for Neuroengineering, have been named 2017-2019 McKnight Land-Grant Professors. Dr. Yarosh's research theme is "Supporting Social Connectedness with Novel Computing Technologies," and Dr. Gillick's research theme is "Discovery of Novel Treatments for Childhood Stroke and Resultant Cerebral Palsy." The McKnight Land-Grant Professorship Program seeks "to advance the careers of new assistant professors at a crucial point in their professional lives." Recipients hold the title for a two-year period.

McKnight Land-Grant Awards

02/27/17 - Bin He to Deliver Plenary Talk on Mind-Controlled Robot at Robotics Alley Annual Event

IEM Director Dr. Bin He, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, will deliver a plenary talk, "Mind-Control of a Robot: Principles and Challenges" from 9:15 to 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, March 1st at the Robotics Alley Conference & Expo, at The Depot in Downtown Minneapolis. Dr. He's work on noninvasive brain-computer interface has facilitated the development of mind-controlled robots. The Robotics Alley event will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 28th and March 1st and will host more than 500 people who are global leaders in the field of robotics, who serve in functions including engineering, business development, policy, law and investment, and who represent a variety of companies, academic institutions, and industry organizations.

Robotics Alley Conference & Expo

02/27/17 - Kamil Ugurbil Discusses Data Capacity Needed for Brain Mapping with Scientific American

IEM Member Dr. Kamil Ugurbil, Professor of Radiology-CMRR, discussed with Scientific American, the tremendous amount of data storage capacity needed for mapping the human brain, which is far greater than the capacity used for the mapping of the human genome. This was a big factor in the Human Connectome Project (HCP), a global consortium funded by the U.S. Government that published a map of the human brain. Dr. Ugurbil, who is Co-Principal Investigator of the HCP, says that the project's researchers used 6 terabytes of MRI data for the analysis of 210 adults when mapping the human cerebral cortex. To address the need for far greater data processing and storage capacity to fully research the connectivity of the human brain, including its 86 billion neurons, scientists are developing innovative data analysis techniques and are also working more collaboratively than they traditionally have in the past.

Neuroscience: Big Brain, Big Data

02/27/17 - Kelvin Lim & Mark Thomas Profiled for Research Effort to End Addiction

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Kelvin O. Lim, Professor of Psychiatry, and IEM Member Dr. Mark J. Thomas, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, were featured in the University's publication Driven to Discover for their research efforts to address the relapse that occurs in approximately 80-90% of addiction patients within one year of recovery. Dr. Lim's research focuses on predicting those patients most likely to relapse, by using brain scans to determine the level of communication between the brain's nucleus accumbens, its rewards and pleasure center, and the frontal cortex, its decision-making center. "The stronger that communication is," says Dr. Lim, "the Higher your chance of staying abstinent." Dr. Thomas says that his research focuses on understanding "what the neural signature for relapse is," so that it can be interrupted. His research team has found a circuit in mice that, when stimulated, can block the relapse of addiction, and he hopes to eventually translate that treatment to humans.

Mapping the Brain to Predict Those Most Likely to Relapse
Finding the Switch that Turns Off Addiction

02/27/17 - Michael Garwood Profiled for Effort to Develop Smaller, More Affordable MRI for Brain Imaging

IEM Member Dr. Michael Garwood, Professor of Radiology-CMRR and Member of IEM Academy of Medical Device Innovators, is working to develop a portable MRI system for scanning a patient's brain, with the support of the NIH BRAIN Initiative. The system, which aims to be much more compact and affordable than currently-used MRI systems, is made possible by Dr. Garwood's technology, which allows for quality images to be produced with only 1/3000 the amount of magnetic field uniformity of today's MRI systems. "It's a smaller tube, all the same technology," says Dr. Garwood. "We can now make good images with a magnet that's not very uniform, which means that now we can make it small, and you can imagine that it's going to be a lot cheaper." Dr. Garwood adds that the technology has the potential for much broader applications, such as mammography, and that its mobility and low-cost could make MRI available to the 90% of humanity that currently lacks access to it.

Reinventing MRI

02/27/17 - Matthew Johnson Develops Algorithm to Identify Optimal DBS Parameters for Individual Patients

IEM Member Dr. Matthew D. Johnson, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and his team of researchers have been looking at different methods of deep brain stimulation (DBS) that will optimize the therapeutic outcome on an individual basis for patients with DBS lead implants. Most recently, Dr. Johnson and his team have developed a Particle Swarm Optimization method for DBS leads with more advanced electrode configurations to maximize the amount of therapeutic benefit, while minimizing both induction of side-effects and overall battery power consumption of the treatment. His team's approach of optimizing particle swarms to address this challenge was inspired by nature, where organisms "solve these complex problems all the time through swarms of cooperating individuals," says Dr. Johnson.

Particle Swarms Ease DBS Array Programming

02/27/17 - The Star Tribune Features Douglas Yee Commentary on Need for Robust Funding to Fight Cancer

IEM Member Dr. Douglas Yee, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Director of the Masonic Cancer Center, wrote a commentary in The Star Tribune to advocate for strong funding in cancer research. Dr. Yee's piece was in response to a previous commentary that questioned the necessity for the large amount of federal support for this research, including the recent $1.8 Billion of funding for the Cancer Moonshot. Dr. Yee counters that "essentially all of the 'breakthrough' cancer therapies were created from federally funded research projects," and that "these successes account for the estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors (about 5 percent of the population) in the United States." In reference to the recent funding boost, Dr. Yee states that the Cancer Moonshot "isn't meant to rocket us all away from this disease, but rather to provide resources to create a stronger mission control." Dr. Yee states that "it is reasonable to believe, with the right resources, we can make cancer preventable, manageable, treatable, or curable."

Sorry But Robust Funding is Way to Conquer Cancer

02/27/17 - IEM Members Featured in Twin Cities Business for MN-REACH Funding

Three IEM Members were featured in Twin Cities Business for receiving MN-REACH grants. Dr. Alex Fok, Professor of Restorative Sciences, for "Novel methods for reversing dental caries (cavities) in human enamel." Dr. Gregory F. Molnar, Associate Professor of Neurology "for his work in deep brain stimulation to treat sleep disorders as well as Parkinson's Disease, Dystonia and other movement disorders" and Dr. Ronald A. Siegel, Professor of Pharmaceutics, for "Intranasal delivery of benzodiazepine prodrug/enzyme combinations for seizure rescue." The MN-REACH program is one of 3 NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs in the nation. It provides grants, coaching and skills development to researchers to support their development of promising health technologies that are nearing the point at which they can be commercialized. MN-REACH is funded by a $3 Million grant from the NIH, which is matched with $3 Million from the University of Minnesota.

U. of M. Commercialization Grants

01/27/17 - Art Erdman Awarded ASME Savio L-Y Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal

Dr. Arthur G. Erdman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director of the IEM-affiliated Medical Devices Center and IEM Executive Committee Member, was selected as the recipient of the 2017 ASME Savio L-Y Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal, for "translating meritorious bioengineering science to clinical practice through research, education, professional development, and with service to the bioengineering community." The medal was established in 2015 and can be used to recognize individuals in ASME's Bioengineering Division for "basic bioengineering science that translates into a medical device or equipment, contributes to new approaches of disease treatment, establishes new injury treatment modalities, etc." Dr. Erdman, who says that he is honored by this distinction, will be presented with the medal at the 2017 Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference, to be held June 21st to 24th, in Tucson, Arizona.

ASME Savio L-Y Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal

01/27/17 - Steven Koester Named 2017 IEEE Fellow

Dr. Steven J. Koester, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and IEM Member, has been named as a 2017 IEEE Fellow "for contributions to group-IV electronic and photonic devices." Dr. Koester's current research is focused on novel electronic, photonic and sensing device concepts with an emphasis on graphene and other two-dimensional materials. His group has developed numerous biosensor concepts including wireless radiation dosimeters for in vivo cancer therapy and a graphene-based chemical sensor for use in the diabetes treatment. Dr. Koester has authored or co-authored over 200 technical publications, book chapters and conference presentations, and holds 66 United States patents. He is an associate editor for IEEE Electron Device Letters and is also an associate director for the SRC/DARPA-funded center for spintronic materials interfaces and novel architectures (C-SPIN). The grade of Fellow, the highest membership grade, is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors on individuals with an outstanding record of accomplishments in an IEEE field of interest. Fewer than one-tenth of one percent of the total number of voting members are elevated as Fellows.

C-SPIN Associate Director Professor, Steve Koester Named IEEE Fellow

01/27/17 - Teresa Kimberley Awarded $1.5 Million NIH Grant to Pursue Treatment of Rare Movement Disorder

IEM Member Dr. Teresa J. Kimberley, Associate Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, was awarded a $1.5 million NIH Grant to investigate the pathophysiology in dystonia, a rare movement disorder. This will build upon Dr. Kimberley's previous work, in which she led a team of IEM members to develop a novel method for measuring cortical excitability in deep or intrinsic muscles. That early work was supported by NIH, MnDRIVE and IEM. The new, NIH-funded project will combine non-invasive brain stimulation and neuroimaging to determine brain network function in people with different types of focal dystonia compared to that function in healthy people. "Dystonia is an enigmatic movement disorder, but I am optimistic that the innovative technology and techniques we are using will lead to a breakthrough in understanding this disorder and help lead to meaningful treatment development," says Dr. Kimberley.

01/27/17 - University Commits $2.5 Million to Greg Beilman & Colleagues for Development of Therapy to Treat Traumatic Blood Loss

IEM member Dr. Gregory J. Beilman, Professor of Surgery, is a part of a three-person research team at the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses of the University of Minnesota that is seeking to commercialize a drug therapy to treat victims of traumatic blood loss. As reported in Twin Cities Business, D-beta hydroxybutyrate and melatonin (BHB/M) therapy has been in development since 2005, and both on and off the commercialization track as economic factors fluctuated. Recently, however, the University's Center for Translational Medicine has given the team a $2.5 million grant to continue research on BHB/M therapy. With the renewed interest in the treatment, the team hopes to complete the preclinical work that will put the drug on track for clinical trial approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

U of M Renews Commercialization-Push for Sidetracked Blood-Loss Therapy

01/27/17 - Michael Walters Cited by Scientific American for Research Review Showing no Therapeutic Benefit to Curcumin

IEM Member Dr. Michael A. Walters, Research Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of the Lead and Probe Discovery Core of the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development (ITDD), was cited by Scientific American for a review of thousands of research papers and over 120 clinical trials, showing no therapeutic benefit to curcumin. The molecule is part of the spice turmeric, which has been popularized in literature as having health benefits. "People accept what is in the literature as being correct and then build a hypothesis, even though it doesn't hold up," says Dr. Walters, who was the lead author of the review, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Dr. Walters describes their findings on curcumin research as a "cautionary tale," and scientists hope that it will prevent others from pursuing what they believe would be futile efforts.

Deceptive Spice Extract Offers Cautionary Tale for Chemists

01/27/17 - Douglas Yee Discusses Potential Effectiveness of Immunotherapy in Eliminating Dormant Breast Cancer Cells

IEM Member Dr. Douglas Yee, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Director of the Masonic Cancer Center, discussed the potential effectiveness of immunotherapy in eliminating dormant breast cancer cells at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December. As reported in HemOnc Today, Dr. Yee says that current breast cancer treatments focus upon tumor cells which are actively dividing because "we have an inability to eradicate - or kill - dormant non-dividing tumor cells," which results in the need for physicians and their patients to be continually vigilant for a recurrence of the cancers when they're in remission. However, Dr. Yee says that he has "a lot of hope" that immunotherapies, particularly those utilizing checkpoint inhibitors, can eliminate dormant cancer cells if appropriately tumor cell antigens can be found. "One of the things we have to work hard on is how do we get the immune system, when it's unshackled from checkpoint inhibition by PD-L1 inhibitors, to identify dormant estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells. We have developed many monoclonal antibodies over the years that have recognized estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells that could serve as neoantigens for an immune attack," says Dr. Yee.

Immunotherapy Holds Potential to Eliminate Dormant Lethal Cancer Cells

01/27/17 - Visible Heart Lab Adds Virtual Realty System to its Capabilities

The IEM-affiliated Visible Heart Laboratory has recently unveiled a new virtual reality system that allows users to explore the insides of 3D heart models. Inspired by the desire to expand upon traditional classroom learning, this system gamifies conventional anatomical modeling to provide students and researchers with a unique, virtual tour of numerous aspects of various heart models, including different tissues, chambers, and even implantable medical devices. Though only several months old, this system has already attracted students, physicians, and industry members alike to experience this novel technology.

The team behind the system, led by graduate student Erik Gaasedelen, hopes to begin to introduce sound, motion, and real-world situations, like catheter insertion, into the model, allowing for more user interaction with the system. The Visible Heart Lab's Principal Investigator, Dr. Paul A. Iaizzo, Professor of Surgery and IEM Associate Director for Education and Outreach, stated that many groups of clinicians and researchers from around the world have come to see the system and have remarked about its potential for training fellows and medical residents. "There is a huge opportunity for the use of this system/approach beyond its current educational function," Dr. Iaizzo notes. "This system will allow physicians to train and practice procedures before entering the operating room or cathlab."

Visible Heart Lab Virtual Reality System

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