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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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