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Institute for Engineering in Medicine

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12/22/16 - IEM Director Bin He and Research Team Made Breakthrough in Mind-Controlled Robotic Arm

A first-of-its-kind mind-controlled robotic arm that utilizes technology developed by Dr. Bin He, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and director of IEM and the Center for Neuroengineering (CNE), was featured by a variety of media including the Star Tribune, Fox News, KSTP, and Fox 9. "This is the first time in the world that people can operate a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in a complex 3-D environment using only their thoughts without a brain implant," says Dr. He. Building upon technology Dr. He developed for mind-controlled drones, the robotic arm system is a big step toward a future of medical applications that could range from rehabilitating stroke patients to helping paralyzed patients regain the ability to perform basic tasks in their everyday lives. This non-invasive technology also has unique merits compared to more expensive and risky implantable technologies aimed at achieving similar outcomes. The work was published last week in Scientific Reports, a Nature research journal.

University of Minnesota Pioneers New Robotic Arm Controlled by the Mind
University of Minnesota Researchers Use Robotic Arm to Turn Thoughts into Action

12/22/16 - IEM Members Among Leadership of University of Minnesota Component of U.S. Department of Commerce Innovation Institute

Several IEM Members will help to lead a component of the recently-announced National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), a consortium of companies, state governments and academic institutions that seeks to advance the rapidly-growing biopharmaceutical industry with innovative production processes and both the creation and training of its future workforce. The institute will be supported by what is expected to be more than $200 Million of public-private partnership funding including a $70 Million 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The University of Minnesota component's leadership team will include IEM Members Drs. Samira M. Azarin, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; Vadim J. Gurvich, Research Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry; Wei-Shou Hu, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; David H. McKenna, Jr., Professor of Lab Medicine and Pathology; and Jakub Tolar, Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Stem Cell Institute and Executive Vice Dean of the Medical School.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Institute

12/22/16 - Blood Washing Device Invented by Allison Hubel is Featured by Twin Cities Business

A blood washing device invented by IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Allison Hubel, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Director of the IEM-affiliated Biopreservation Core Resource (BioCoR), was featured by Twin Cities Business. The automated system cleanses from thawed blood glycerol preservatives, which are added to blood prior to its freezing for storage, and it does so more efficiently and safely than does a centrifuge, which has been the standard type of equipment used for this process and which requires more time and labor to use and results in high cell losses. Dr. Hubel's device could ultimately help to make large strategic reserves available from blood produced from stem cells, during emergencies when insufficient quantities of donated blood are available - something which is not as possible with centrifuges. The device took a big step toward this future with a $223,000 Phase I NIH SBIR grant awarded in September to the start-up company seeking to commercialize it, Headwaters Innovation Inc., led by a successful local entrepreneur.

Veteran Medtech Player Seeks to Commercialize U. of M. Blood Washing Device

12/22/16 - Henry Balfour Discusses Epstein-Barr Virus with USA Today

IEM Member Dr. Henry H. Balfour, Jr., Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, was interviewed by the USA Today about Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), commonly-known as mono and "childhood kissing disease." Dr. Balfour says that the disease can potentially have long-term consequences for those who suffer from it, including the 280,000 college freshmen that contract the disease, annually. "Epstein-Barr Virus is responsible for a number of chronic conditions, especially certain forms of cancer and autoimmune disease and even multiple sclerosis," says Dr. Balfour. Symptoms of the disease experienced later in life can include symptoms of the flu that don't completely subside, joint pain and ringing in the ears, according to Dr. Balfour, who adds that the EBV virus can also lead to chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Dr. Balfour, who's research is focused on the development of a vaccine against EBV, says that "the best way to deal with all these EBV diseases is to prevent them from happening in the first place."

Could Childhood Kissing Disease Root Your Mystery Illness?

12/22/16 - Kelvin Lim Discusses Use of Ecstasy to Treat PTSD with KARE 11

Dr. Kelvin O. Lim, Professor of Psychiatry, Drs. T.J. and Ella M. Arneson Land Grant Chair in Human Behavior and Co-Chair of IEM's Neuroengineering Theme was interviewed by KARE 11 about new, FDA-approved Phase III clinical trials of the party drug Ecstasy (MDMA) for the treatment of PTSD. MDMA is classified as a Schedule 1 drug with no currently accepted medical use. The new trials build upon research that included a trial in which MDMA was used as part of a broader treatment regimen, including therapy, that resulted in a 56% decrease in the severity of symptoms of PTSD and two-thirds of the patients no longer meeting the criteria for having the disorder. Dr. Lim, who has not studied MDMA, says that the potential use of MDMA to treat PTSD is "very promising and exciting" due to the lack of effective medications and that "thirty to forty percent of people don't respond to treatment". However, Dr. Lim cautions that if MDMA is approved as treatment for PTSD, mechanisms will need to be put in place to insure that it used in a safe and effective manner.

FDA Approves Large-Scale Trial of Ecstasy to Treat PTSD

12/22/16 - Melena Bellin Discusses with Reuters Health Testing to Predict Insulin Dependence Following Total Pancreatectomy with Islet Autotransplantation

Dr. Melena D. Bellin, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, discussed with Reuters Health the results of a study suggesting that the Lower Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) can help to predict the insulin dependence of chronic pancreatitis patients following total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation (TPIAT). The research showed a relationship between patients' glucose status prior to the procedure, as measured by OGTT, and the need for insulin therapy one year after the procedure. "While risk of diabetes is most often a secondary consideration (to pain control/quality of life) in selecting patients for TPIAT, it is very important that patients are provided a realistic expectation of outcomes in preoperative counseling," says Dr. Bellin, who adds that "Some patients may choose not to undergo TPIAT knowing that their testing before surgery puts them at very high risk for lifelong insulin dependence after surgery."

OGTT Testing May Help Counsel Patients Before Total Pancreatectomy with Islet Autotransplantation

12/22/16 - Dick Bianco & Brenda Ogle Elected as 2017 AIMBE Fellows

IEM members Drs. Richard W. Bianco, Associate Professor of Surgery and Program Director of Experimental Surgical Services, and Brenda M. Ogle, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering have been elected to the 2017 Class of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellows. Drs. Bianco and Ogle will join the AIMBE College of Fellows, which consists of approximately "1,500 individuals who are the outstanding bioengineers in academia, industry and government. These leaders in the field have distinguished themselves through their contributions in research, industrial practice and/or education." Each will be inducted on March 20th at AIMBE's Annual Even in Washington, D.C.

AIMBE College of Fellows Nominations & Election

11/28/16 - IEM Industrial Advisory Board Member Among Brain-Computer Interface Investigators Published in New England Journal of Medicine

IEM Industrial Advisory Board Member Dr. Timothy Denison, Vice President of Research and Core Technology, and Technical Fellow at Medtronic, was among investigators whose research, on the use of a fully-implanted brain-computer interface (BCI) for communication by an ALS patient, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The patient suffers from "locked-in syndrome," a form of paralysis which prevents her from being able to communicate verbally or in other muscular-based ways, but which does not affect her cognitive ability. By thinking about moving her fingers, the patient generates a brain signal that is identified and converted into a mouse click by the BCI system, allowing her to then select individual letters on a keyboard and type messages. Dr. Denison says that the next objectives are to make the technology operate faster and useable in a home environment. The research was performed at the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht, in the Netherlands, and was funded, in-part, by Medtronic.

Fully Implanted Brain-Computer Interface in Locked-In Patient with ALS

11/28/16 - Jakub Tolar Speaks at Conference in Cuba to Promote Collaborative Research in Regenerative and Cellular Medicine

IEM Member Dr. Jakub Tolar, Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Stem Cell Institute and Executive Vice Dean of Medical School, was among the speakers at the inaugural Inter American Regenerative and Cellular Medicine Conference, which was held in Havana, Cuba, October 13th through 15th. The conference, which hosted 180 medical professionals from 14 countries, focused upon the potential standardization of stem cell therapies in medicine. Dr. Tolar says that the conference "was a fine example of how international research starts with human interactions," and that being "derived in part from shared knowledge of regenerative medicine literature and in part from the shared goal of alleviating human suffering anywhere in the world, the meeting of Cuban and American clinician-researchers offered a blueprint for future interactions."

First Inter American Regenerative and Cellular Medicine Conference

11/28/16 - Theresa Reineke Leads Team that Discovers Method to Improve Effectiveness of Orally-Taken Medications

IEM Member Dr. Theresa M. Reineke, Professor of Chemistry, led a team of researchers who, along with colleagues at the Dow Chemical Company, discovered a method of customizing ingredients to make orally-taken medications more dissolvable, and thus absorbed in the bloodstream more quickly and effectively than existing methods. The team tested the process with an anti-seizure drug and another that treats late-stage prostate cancer. Dr. Reineke says that the method could be broadly applied "by many companies to create other life-saving medicines." The research has been published in the American Chemical Society's ACS Central Science and a patent on the technology has been applied for by the University of Minnesota and Dow. The study's Co-Author, Dr. Frank Bates, a University of Minnesota Regents Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, says that this breakthrough is "a perfect example of what can happen when industry and academia come together."

New Discovery Could Help Oral Medicines Work Better

11/28/16 - Jerrold Vitek Discusses Innovative Deep Brain Stimulation Procedure to Treat Neurological Disorder

IEM Member Dr. Jerrold L. Vitek, McKnight Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, discussed in a November 5th Star Tribune article the progress and potential of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to help patients struggling with a variety of neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's Disease (PD). The research uses a method called "closed-loop stimulation" in its DBS procedures, which triggers pulses only when abnormal neural patterns are recognized. This new method also has the potential to reduce post-surgery side effects, such as headaches and dizziness. "This [procedure] has already gone far beyond what anyone thought it could be," said Dr. Vitek. "But we believe that we can fine-tune this even more, so people can have a much better quality of life." Dr. Vitek and his colleagues are also seeking to develop a novel pattern of stimulation called coordinated reset that he says "is a very new and exciting approach." Both closed-loop stimulation and "coordinated reset" "are novel and will provide additional benefits for patients with PD who undergo DBS," says Dr. Vitek.

Twin Cities Father to Undergo Cutting-Edge Brain Surgery at U.

11/28/16 - Daniel Duprez Discusses Complexity of Relationship Between Diet and Cardiovascular Health

IEM Member Dr. Daniel Duprez, Professor of Medicine, Donald and Patricia Garofalo Chair in Preventive Cardiology, was featured in an article in the October edition of Minnesota Monthly, "Rethinking Conventional Wisdom on Heart Disease." Focusing on research about the relationship between a person's diet and cardiovascular disease, the article described the recent discussion regarding a heart-healthy diet. There are controversial reports that eating more meat and butter would not cause heart disease in everybody. In contrast, studies of the Mediterranean diet have clearly shown that eating more healthy fats from fish, nuts and vegetable oils decreases risk for heart disease. In addition, recent studies show that replacing fats with higher amounts of starches and sugars actually increases the risk of heart disease, which goes against thinking that evolved, in large part, from a study funded by the sugar industry in 1967. "Is it not time to pay more attention what we eat and how we eat, instead of using only drive-in and micro-wave prepared frozen food or canned food with a high sugar drink and dessert? Healthy eating is the corner stone of prevention," says Dr. Duprez.

Rethinking Conventional Wisdom on Heart Disease

11/28/16 - Kathryn Cullen Utilizing Brain Imaging to Study Non-Suicidal Self Injury in Adolescent Girls

IEM Member Dr. Kathryn Cullen, Assistant Professor and Division Chief, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, and colleagues are beginning a 5-year study that will examine the relationship between self-harm behavior and certain biological metrics, such as hormones and neurocircuitry, in adolescent girls. The number of these non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) behaviors has been on the rise in recent years, due in part to the diffusion of these behaviors over social media networks. Citing the current lack of data for biological factors as a cause of NSSI behaviors, Dr. Cullen is seeking to find evidence linking the two, stating, "We hope to uncover a meaningful understanding of the neural mechanisms driving NSSI, paving the way for developing new treatments to address NSSI." Besides linking these factors to NSSI, Dr. Cullen hopes that this type of research will help reduce the stigma around mental illness, providing people with a new lens through which they can understand these afflictions.

Emerging Methodology May Improve Mental Health Research

11/28/16 - Alan T. Hirsch & AHA Request CMS Coverage for Supervised Exercise Therapy for Peripheral Artery Disease

IEM Member, Dr. Alan T. Hirsch, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Community Health, Director of the Vascular Medicine Program, and Co-Director of the Minnesota Heart Health Program, on behalf of the American Heart Association (AHA), has requested coverage from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to provide all Americans with access to supervised exercise therapy as a first line treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD). For the more than 8 million people who suffer from PAD in the U.S., leg artery blockages lower the flow of oxygenated blood to the legs resulting in muscle fatigue, discomfort and pain during exercise, a symptom called "claudication". People with PAD also face a very high short-term risk of heart attack and stroke. Currently, claudication is commonly treated via invasive procedures, such as stenting or surgery. However, supervised exercise is now recognized as one of the most safe, effective and inexpensive treatments to improve claudication, in part due to a large NIH-supported trial completed by Dr. Hirsch and other University of Minnesota faculty. The exercise setting also lowers cardiovascular risk. "Stenting and medication will continue to be a common way to treat PAD and these approaches may be preferred by some patients," Dr. Hirsch said. "But now we can offer a program that offers all patients a more therapeutic choice."

Supervised Exercise to Treat P.A.D.

10/27/16 - Bin He and Colleagues Awarded $1.9 Million NIH Grant to Study Brain-Computer Interface with Mind-Body Awareness Training

Dr. Bin He, IEM director, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Medtronic-Bakken Endowed Chair for Engineering in Medicine, and his multi-disciplinary research team have established a novel approach for improving learning of and performance with brain-computer interface technology. Dr. He's research investigates Mind-Body Awareness Training for improving learning of and performance with brain-computer interface as part of a 5-year, $1.9 Million National Institutes of Health research grant. Other investigators in the grant are IEM member Dr. Steve Engel, Professor of Psychology, and Dr. Mary Jo Kreitzer, Professor of Nursing and director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing. This cutting-edge technology holds the promise to assist numerous patients suffering from neuromuscular disorders and other systemic and brain diseases. The proposed research will significantly enhance the brain-computer interface use through mind-body intervention, and thus will benefit numerous patients, including disabled patients, and the general population to enhance control over their environment.

Mind-Body Awareness Training and Brain-Computer Interface

10/27/16 - Vipin Kumar Receives IEEE Computer Society's Sidney Fernbach Award

IEM Member Dr. Vipin Kumar, Regents Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, has received the 2016 IEEE Computer Society Sidney Fernbach Award "for foundational work on understanding scalability, and highly scalable algorithms for graph partitioning, sparse linear systems, and data mining." Dr. Kumar is internationally-known for his work in advancing the fields of high-performance computing and big data. The award was established in 1992 in memory of Sidney Fernbach, a pioneer in high-performance computing, to honor those who make "outstanding contributions in the application of high-performance computers using innovative approaches." Dr. Kumar will be presented with the award on November 15th at the supercomputing conference SC16 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

2016 Sidney Fernbach Award

10/27/16 - IEM Member & Colleagues Discover Cause of Resistance to Breast Cancer Drug

IEM Member Dr. Douglas Yee, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Director of the Masonic Cancer Center, in collaboration with Reuben S. Harris, Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, and their colleagues, have identified a protein, APOBEC3B, that creates mutations leading to resistance to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. As reported in Health Medicine Network, the discovery could lead to improvements that would make tamoxifen more effective in treating breast cancer and also to the treatment of other cancers that become drug-resistant. "In the treatment of all metastatic cancer, patients will eventually develop resistance and progress. What are the mechanisms of resistance? [APOBEC3B] is proving to be a major driver of resistance and something we're continuing to actively investigate," says Dr. Yee. The results have been published in the journal Science Advances.

Culprit Found in Breast Cancer Resistance to Tamoxifen

10/27/16 - FDA Approves New Epilepsy Drug Developed by College of Pharmacy Faculty

IEM Member Dr. James Cloyd, Professor of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, and Director of the Center for Orphan Drug Research, and his departmental colleagues, Drs. Angela Birnbaum and Ilo Leppik, have developed a new epilepsy drug product that received FDA approval on October 8. As reported in Epilepsy News Today, the drug, named Carnexiv, can be injected, making it an alternative when patients are unable to take the oral carbamazepine formulations, as may occur when a patient is unconscious or has a severe gastrointestinal disorder. "This approval is the result of years of work to create a novel and stable injection formulation to support patients who need an alternative to oral carbamazepine," says Dr. Cloyd. Carnexiv's development began with NIH funding (Leppik, PI; Cloyd, Co-PI) that resulted in the publication of a pharmacokinetic study. The study laid the groundwork for the design of a Phase II trial that was used as part of the NDA. Development continued through a partnership between the University of Minnesota and a drug company, Lundbeck. A key element in the development plan was submission of an orphan drug designation application (Cloyd co-author) to the FDA, which granted Carnexiv orphan drug status in 2013.

FDA Approves Carnexiv Injection for Epilepsy Seizures as Replacement Therapy

10/27/16 - IEM Members Part of Team that Discovers Role of Endoglin During Embryonic Development of Cardiac & Blood Cells

IEM Members Dr. Rita Perlingeiro, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology, Dr. Daniel J. Garry, Professor of Medicine, and Dr. Naoko Koyano-Nakagawa, Assistant Professor of Medicine/Cardiology, are a part of a team of researchers who discovered the role endoglin plays in the development of the blood and cardiac cells during embryonic development. These researchers and their colleagues manipulated primary heart cells from zebrafish and mice and differentiated mouse pluripotent stem cells to identify the effects of endoglin on cellular expression. Dr. Perlingeiro says that "by using multiple model systems, combined with specialized cell sorting technology and sequencing tools, our findings help uncover mechanisms previously unseen in the few cells engaged in these early development decisions." This research may provide further information in the roles that endoglin plays in congenital heart defects, as well as discovering ways to catalyze the development of blood or heart tissue following an injury.

UMN Researchers Find Link Between Heart and Blood Cells in Early Development

10/27/16 - IEM Team Begins Researching Application of 3D Printed Scaffold to Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries

A team of IEM members, Dr. Michael McAlpine, Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Dr. James R. Dutton, Research Assistant Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development at the Minnesota Stem Cell Institute, and Dr. Ann M. Parr, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, is working on a new research project that is using 3D printing to construct a scaffold to support cells in the reconstruction of an injured spinal cord. Though in the early stages of development, the team hopes to create a technology that will "provide an effective therapy for spinal cord injury," says Dr. Parr, essentially a "spinal cord on a chip." The scaffold could potentially be used to treat patients with chronic spinal cord injuries and may lead to other advances in the field of regenerative medicine.

UMN Doctor Researches New Way to Treat Spinal Cord Injuries

10/27/16 - Ben Hackel Close to Commercializing Unique Molecular Imaging Probe for Cancer Detection; MN-REACH Funding Playing Key Role

IEM Member Dr. Benjamin J. Hackel, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, has developed a molecular imaging probe detectable by PET scans for the imaging of numerous types of cancers, including colorectal and breast cancers. As reported in Twin Cities Business, the probe can improve how these cancers are treated. "It's a way of identifying which patients are likely to respond to a particular type of therapy versus patients who aren't likely to respond - it's a personalized medicine approach. Clinics right now don't have a very good way of differentiating between these two patient populations, so we propose that a PET imaging approach would be able to provide that," says Dr. Hackel. MN-REACH funding is being used to complete the final steps toward commercializing the technology, including "making some small but important modifications in the molecule so that it will perform more effectively at the human patient level," according to Dr. Hackel.

U. of M. Cancer Researchers Readying Intro of New Molecular Imaging Technology

10/27/16 - David Jacobs is Lead Author in Study Published in the Journal of Pediatrics on Future Benefits of Healthy Eating by Teens

IEM Member Dr. David R. Jacobs, Professor of Epidemiology & Community Health, was the lead author of a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showing that healthy eating by teenagers leads to less weight gain and BMI during early adulthood. The study, which followed more than 2,500 students at Minneapolis and St. Paul high schools, from when they were 15 years old until they were 25, showed that the benefits were experienced by not only those who had healthy diets at age 15 but also by those who switched to a healthy diet during those years. Dr. Jacobs concludes that "food preferences and attitudes may be established as early as age 15," and that the "choices adolescents make during that stage establish a lifetime diet pattern, which could influence weight gain over time."

Higher Quality Diet in Adolescence and Dietary Improvements Are Related to Less Weight Gain During the Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood

09/30/16 - Jerry Vitek and Colleagues Awarded $9 Million Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research

A recently-awarded Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research at the University of Minnesota will be led by IEM member Dr. Jerrold L. Vitek, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology. It is one of 9 such centers funded in the U.S., and will be supported with more than $9 Million of NIH funding over 5 years, with its research theme being "Circuit-based deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease." Dr. Vitek, who will serve as the center's Principal Investigator, says that the University of Minnesota has "a world-class multidisciplinary team to treat patients with Parkinson's disease, and because of our significant experience and expertise we are able to take on this complex and often debilitating movement disorder with a goal of improving patient's lives." Legislative support through the MnDRIVE Brain Conditions initiative played a key role in securing the center award for the University, according to Dr. Vitek. Two IEM Seed Group Grants also helped to facilitate the early development of the center's research.

University of Minnesota Named Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research

09/30/16 - Wei Chen and Colleagues Awarded $4.4 Million NIH BRAIN Initiative Grant

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Wei Chen, Professor of Radiology, and his colleagues were recently awarded a five year, $4.4 Million NIH BRAIN Initiative grant for research entitled "Integrated FMRI Methods to Study Neurophysiology and Circuit Dynamics at Laminar and Columnar Level." According to the project's Public Health Relevance Statement, the research aims to show "how the brain functions at the micro-circuit and network levels," which "should lead to transformative breakthroughs in understanding dynamic functions of the human brain, underlying electrophysiology basis and mapping specificity of fMRI to a new level." In addition, it could potentially lead to the development of leading-edge technology that will make possible more safe and effective deep brain stimulation (DBS) devices for patients. This is the second BRAIN Initiative grant that Dr. Chen received from NIH.

Integrated FMRI Methods to Study Neurophysiology and Circuit Dynamics at Laminar and Columnar Level

09/30/16 - Jonathan Sachs Published in Nature Chemical Biology

Research conducted by IEM Member Dr. Jonathan N. Sachs, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, entitled "Oxidation increases the strength of the methionine-aromatic interaction," has been published in Nature Chemical Biology. The study, says Dr. Sachs, demonstrates "that oxidation increases the thermodynamic strength of interaction between methionine and aromatic residues," and "that this change is sufficient to block ligand binding in a Tumor Necrosis Factor receptor, and to lead to misfolding in a calcium binding protein involved in cardiac function and heart disease." Dr. Sachs says that this new understanding "will open new avenues of therapeutic design in proteins that are vulnerable to age-related oxidative processes, including neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's."

Oxidation Increases the Strength of the Methionine-Aromatic Interaction

09/30/16 - Bob Tranquillo Leads Team that Developments Grow-Able Synthetic Blood Vessel; Could Eventually Treat Children

A research team led by IEM Member Dr. Robert T. Tranquillo, Professor and Department Head of Biomedical Engineering, has developed an implantable blood vessel that could eventually be used to treat children with heart defects. As reported by the Star Tribune, this vessel is unique because it can continue to grow as the child grows, as it did in growing lambs, which would allow children to avoid having to get it replaced later in life with surgeries that are costly and carry a lot of risk. "For the well-being of the patient, and not to mention the cost involved, there could be really major benefits if this material does in fact grow in a human. We've shown it in a sheep, and we would hope that someday it would also be demonstrated in a patient," says Dr. Tranquillo. The vessel could potentially be used to treat more than 1,000 children in the U.S., annually.

In Key Advance U. Team Builds Blood Vessel that Grows with Body

09/30/16 - IEM Group Grant Leads to NIH R01 Grant; Promotes Global Diversity

IEM members Dr. Donald Simone and Dr. Kalpna Gupta received a multi-PI NIH RO1 grant to examine novel targets to treat pain in sickle cell disease. Dr. Simone is a Professor, Department Chair and Division Director, Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences and Dr. Gupta is a Professor of Medicine and Co-Chair of the IEM Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering Theme. Dr. Gupta says that the research will address a major co-morbidity associated with sickle cell disease, that affects vast populations globally and mostly African-Americans. "We thank the members for promoting the IEM vision of promoting global diversity. Preliminary data for this grant was supported by an IEM Group grant," says Dr. Gupta.

09/30/16 - Christy Haynes Discusses with Chemical & Engineering News Female Chemistry Faculty Advancements at Top Institutions

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Christy L. Haynes, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Chemistry, discussed with Chemical & Engineering News a recent growth trend in female faculty advancement in chemistry departments at leading Ph.D.-granting institutions in the U.S. While female representation among chemistry faculty grew only 2% to 19.1% from 2013-14 to 2014-15, the increase stands out after years of more incremental increases. Dr. Haynes says that the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE), an initiative supported by the NSF, NIH and DOD, has been working to improve these numbers by getting the leaders of these departments, who are mostly white and male, to drive diversification, instead of placing much of this burden on women and minority Ph.D.'s and faculty. "In bringing all the chairs together, they're trying to make sure that all the work to increase diversity doesn't land on the people that are the diversity," says Dr. Haynes.

Women Crack Academic Glass Ceiling

09/30/16 - Pierre-Francois Van de Moortele & Thomas Henry Awarded NSF CRCNS Grant

IEM Members Dr. Pierre-Francois Van de Moortele, Associate Professor of Radiology CMRR and Dr. Thomas R. Henry, Professor of Neurology, have been awarded a National Science Foundation Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) grant. Van de Moortele is serving as a PI and Dr. Henry is serving as a Co-PI, for the research, entitled: "US-France Research Proposal. Hippocampal layers: advanced computational anatomy using very high resolution MRI at 7 Tesla in humans." The grant's duration is 3 years and totals $928,000, with the U.S. portion being $573,342.

Dr. Van de Moortele says that this US-France collaborative research combines two powerful, complementary approaches to explore at a sub-millimeter scale tiny inner structures of the hippocampus, and better understand related functions altered in clinical conditions, with a focus on adult and teenager epileptic patients: 1) cutting-edge imaging methods will be pushed on MRI scanners operating at 7 Tesla to attain unprecedented spatial resolution in multi-contrast modalities, and, 2) high-resolution computational anatomy methods, moving beyond traditional morphometry, will be developed to unveil alterations not detected by conventional means. Dr. Van de Moortele and his colleagues expect that the outcome of this research will pave the way for new biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and new therapeutic development.

09/30/16 - 2016 IEM Walter Barnes Lang Fellowship Awardees Announced

IEM announced the awardees of the Walter Barnes Lang Fellowship, which will support travel for research presentations. Recipients of the award are graduate students at the University of Minnesota engaged in study and research related to engineering in medicine, advised by IEM Members, who are evaluated on their record of academic achievement, quality of their research plan, demonstrated commitment to engineering in medicine and demonstrated leadership strengths. One Fellowship was awarded in each of IEM's themes. The awardees and their IEM Member advisors are as follows:

Cardiovascular Engineering
Awardee: Xu, Bin, Advisor: Dr. Wei Shen
Abstract: Unique Alignment of hPSC-derived Myogenic Cells in Response to Nanotopographical Cues and Biochemical Ligands

Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering
Awardee: Forkus, Brittany, Advisor: Dr. Yiannis Kaznessis
Abstract: Engineering Probiotic Bacteria for Pathogen Reduction in Poultry

Medical Devices
Awardee: Agrawal, Pranav, Advisor: Dr. Theresa Reineke
Abstract: Fast, efficient and gentle transfection of human adherent cells in suspension

Medical and Biological Imaging
Awardee: Thathachary, Supriya V., Advisor: Dr. Shai Ashkenazi
Abstract: Performance Improvement of an all-optical Fabry Perot Ultrasound Detector

Awardee: Sen, Bhaskar, Advisor: Dr. Keshab K. Parhi
Abstract: Classification of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder from Resting-State fMRI

08/29/16 - Registration Open for IEM Annual Conference and Retreat

Registration is now open for the 5th Annual Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM) Conference and Retreat, taking place on September 26, 2016 from 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities Campus. The event will open with plenary keynote talks by nationally recognized leaders, followed by networking lunch. In the afternoon, breakout sessions will be taking place for IEM faculty members and industrial colleagues to discuss research collaboration opportunities relating to Cardiovascular Engineering, Neuroengineering, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, Medical and Biological Imaging, and Medical Devices. From mid-afternoon, there will be a poster/networking session highlighting research of IEM faculty members and their groups included in the program. The retreat and conference shall offer rich opportunities for participants to develop interdisciplinary collaborations between health sciences and engineering, and form teams of collaborators responding to federal/external funding opportunities. 70% of the room capacity has already been filled by the registrants so far. Register ASAP to secure your seat in this free event.

08/29/16 - Bin He Delivered Plenary Talk on Human BRAIN Research at IEEE EMBC International Conference

Dr. Bin He, IEM director and Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Biomedical Engineering, spoke in the BRAIN Plenary Symposium on "Electrophysiological Neuroimaging and Brain-Computer Interface" at the 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC'16) held in Orlando, FL from August 16-20, 2016. In his lecture, Dr. He described exciting research on dynamic human brain imaging and mind-controlled medical devices at the University of Minnesota. Other two speakers in the Plenary Symposium are Dr. Karl Deisseroth, D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, member of NAE, NAM and HHMI; and Dr. Sarah Hollingsworth Lisanby, Director of Translational Research Division of NIMH, on behalf of Dr. Walter Koroshetz, NINDS director and co-chair of NIH BRAIN Multi-council Working Group. EMBC'16 were attended by more than 2,600 scientists and engineers from all around the world.

08/29/16 - Jakub Tolar Named Executive Vice Dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School

IEM Member Dr. Jakub Tolar, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Stem Cell Institute, was named Executive Vice Dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School. In his announcement of Dr. Tolar's new role, Dean Brooks Jackson stated that it "will be an important position on my leadership team, with a strong focus on implementing the Medical School's strategic plan and driving our goal of excellence in all areas of our mission." Dr. Tolar stated that he believes that the "Medical School has the people we need to make us one of the best in the nation. I hope to work with faculty and staff to identify and remove obstacles to success in recruiting and retaining faculty, performing meaningful research, and excelling at scholarship at the highest, most creative level."

08/29/16 - David Odde and Colleagues Awarded an $8.2 Million NIH Grant for New Cancer Research Center; IEM Seed Grants Played Early Role

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. David J. Odde, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and his team, have been awarded a 5-year, $8.2 Million NIH Physical Sciences in Oncology Center (PSOC) grant from the National Cancer Institute. The development of the center project was supported by two IEM Group Grants since 2013. Dr. Odde is serving as the Project Leader (contact PI) for this Center for Modeling Tumor Cell Migration Mechanics, which is one of a nationwide network of 10 PSOC's. In addition to Dr. Odde, other key leaders include IEM Member Dr. David A. Largaespada (multiple PI), Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Development Genetics, of the Masonic Cancer Center, IEM Member Dr. Paolo Provenzano (core PI), Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Dr. Steven Rosenfeld (multiple PI), of the Cleveland Clinic. The center will include a team of biomedical engineers, cancer biologists, surgeons and oncologists from the University of Minnesota, who will collaborate with both the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic.

While common approaches to fighting cancer involve the attacking of cancer cells, the new center will instead explore how cancer cells can be prevented from migrating and ultimately metastasizing and invading vital organs, which are the primary causes of cancer deaths. The center will perform "integrated modeling and experiments to investigate the molecular mechanics of cell migration and how the tumor microenvironment regulates disease progression as a function of the underlying carcinoma genetics."

NIH Project: Center for Modeling Tumor Cell Migration Mechanics

08/29/16 - Kamil Ugurbil and Essa Yacoub Among Awardees of $6.9 Million in Grants for Continuation of Human Brain Connectivity Research at CMRR

Dr. Kamil Ugurbil, Professor of Medicine, Neurosciences, and Radiology, and Director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), and Dr. Essa Yacoub Professor of Radiology in CMRR, both IEM members, have together received two grants totaling $6.9 million, awarded to the CMRR for the continuation of research to map connectivity of the human brain. The research began nearly 5 years ago as a consortium called the Human Connectome Project (HCP), between the University of Minnesota, Washington University in St Louis, and Oxford University (UK), focused on mapping connectivity in the young, healthy adult brain.

This work is now extended to the study of brain connectivity during aging and development with two new grants involving a larger consortium that includes Harvard and UCLA. "The mapping techniques we created in the HCP are truly transformative, allowing us to better understand how the brain is organized and connected. With these new techniques, we are now in a position to ask about how the brain develops and changes over time, and how it is altered in diseases," says Dr. Ugurbil. IEM Member Dr. Essa Yacoub, Professor of Radiology, will co-lead the development component of the research together with Dr. Kathleen Thomas, Professor, Institute of Child Development, in which changes to the behavior, mood and brains of children in their early years of puberty will be measured against changes to their pubescent hormones. Dr. Ugurbil, together with Dr. Melissa Terpstra, Associate Professor of Radiology-CMRR, will lead the effort focused on studying the effects of aging.

CMRR Receives $6.9 Million Grant for Continuation of Brain Connectivity Research

08/29/16 - Kevin Peterson to lead $2.6 Million NIH-Funded Study to Improve Diabetes Care

IEM Member Dr. Kevin A. Peterson, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Director, Center for Excellence in Primary Care, will lead a study supported by a $2.6 million grant from the NIH to determine how primary care providers in Minnesota can improve their care of patients with diabetes. As reported in Medical School Blog and EurekaAlert! , the study will be performed by the University of Minnesota in collaboration with Medica and HealthPartners, and determine which primary care delivery models most likely improve clinical outcomes of Minnesota's diabetic patients, by analyzing data from 2008 to 2019. The timing reflects the state's 2008 establishment of health care delivery criteria, which have since been adopted by a majority of Minnesota's primary care practices. The findings can have a nation impact: "If Minnesota legislation has effectively contributed to improving the clinical outcomes of thousands of people with diabetes, it will provide an important example for the rest of the nation for how to approach improving health care," says Dr. Peterson.

Family Medicine Doctor to Lead $2.6 Million NIH Diabetes Study

08/29/16 - Jakub Tolar Featured on WCCO for Celebration with Teen Cancer Patient of Successful Treatment

IEM Member Dr. Jakub Tolar, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Stem Cell Institute, was featured on WCCO for celebrating, with a kayak outing, the good health of a teenager whom he treated for cancer. The patient had fought the disease for 5 years before a bone marrow transplant, performed by Dr. Tolar, saved her life. While he was treating his patient, Dr. Tolar shared with her his passion for kayaking and "told her that I kayaked to work a couple times a week. We made a deal, it was her idea not mine, that once the transplant is done and successful for real, which it is today, that we will go together on kayak," says Dr. Tolar.

'I Can Do Anything': Teen Who Beat Cancer Celebrates with Doctor

08/29/16 - Kalpna Gupta Discusses with KARE 11 Potential Impact of DEA Decision on the Use of Marijuana for Research

IEM Member Dr. Kalpna Gupta, Professor of Medicine and Co-Chair of the IEM Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering Theme, was interviewed by KARE 11 on a recent Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision that could potentially allow for the use of Cannabis for research from additional sources as compared to only one source through NIDA currently. Dr. Gupta and researchers most often use synthetic cannabinoids, not the actual cannabis-derived medications in their pain research, due to existing DEA regulations. The DEA will continue to maintain the Schedule I status for Cannabis derived products but may consider requests for Medical cannabis from different sources. "I'm hoping that this would be the beginning of a conversation," says Dr. Gupta, to ultimately gain access to Minnesota made medical cannabis products.

New DEA Rules for Marijuana Research

08/29/16 - David Jacobs Published in Scientific American with Article on the Positive Impact of Exercise on Cognition

IEM Member Dr. David R. Jacobs, Professor of Epidemiology & Community Health, co-authored an article in Scientific American about how exercise can benefit a person's cognition, both after a workout and in the long-term. While scientists are not entirely certain of how exercise increases brainpower after a workout, one possible reason is that exercise increases the blood flow to the brain and with it, oxygen and other chemicals utilized by the brain. Other possibilities are that exercise creates more mitochondria to generate and sustain brain energy, and that the heart rate increase from exercise increases a person's ability to generate new brain cells. Earlier research performed by Dr. Jacobs showed long-term cognitive benefits of exercise, as 2,747 people between 18 and 30 years of age were followed for 25 years, between 1985 and 2010, with those who were more fit in 1985 performing 10% better in cognitive tests in 2010 than less physically-fit members of their cohort. The conclusion is that regular exercise can benefit a person's cognitive function in the long-term, not just after a workout.

How Does Exercise Benefit Cognition?

08/29/16 - Colum MacKinnon Conducting Study to Examine Link Between Parkinson's Disease and Sleep Disorder

Dr. Colum MacKinnon, Associate Professor of Neurology, and IEM Member, is researching the link between Parkinson's Disease and muscle activation abnormalities during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. As reported by Heath Talk , the ultimate objective of Dr. MacKinnon's research is to identify specific aspects of REM sleep that can be predictive of both the onset and progression of Parkinson's Disease, which could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of the condition. "The link between REM sleep abnormalities and Parkinson's is probably one of the hottest topics in neurology," says Dr. MacKinnon. Up to 60% of people suffering from Parkinson's experience significant sleep issues, in particular, muscles that should be "turned-off" during REM sleep are instead turned-on. These symptoms are often seen many years before a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is made and are likely indicative of a "pre-Parkinsonian state." Dr. MacKinnon notes that the University of Minnesota has the "longest history of any institution of following this particular sleep problem," and was the first to make this link. He adds that the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) provides "state-of-art imaging of the brain" that will allow them to assess the changes in brain structure and function that occur as the disease progresses.

UMN Researchers Connecting Links to Sleep Issues and Parkinson's Disease

08/29/16 - Visible Heart Lab Featured on Big Ten Network and in Medtech Pulse

The Big Ten Network and Medtech Pulse recently featured the IEM-affiliated Visible Heart Lab and video of its various functions, including the reanimation of hearts from both pigs and humans. While the pig heart reanimations occur regularly for educational and research purposes, human heart reanimations occur very infrequently. "On the rare occasion [when] the heart is deemed not viable [for transplant], we get it to the lab within four to six hours," says Dr. Paul A. Iaizzo, Professor of Surgery, Principal Investigator of the Visible Heart Lab and IEM Associate Director for Education and Outreach. Videos and images of the reanimated hearts are placed on the Atlas of Human Cardiac Anatomy, a free website, that had 500,000 users, globally, in 2015. The Visible Heart Lab was started in collaboration with Medtronic, which has also been its primary sponsor.

Minnesota is Re-Animating Dead Pig Hearts for Science: LiveBIG
Reanimated Heart Footage is Amazing

08/29/16 - Michael Garwood is Member of Team that Developed MRI Technique to Detect Cracks in Teeth

IEM Member Dr. Michael Garwood, Professor of Radiology-CMRR, is among a team of researchers who have developed an MRI-based technique for detecting cracks in teeth called SWeep Imaging with Fourier Transformation (SWIFT). According to Dr. Garwood, "SWIFT is a unique imaging technique because it allows the MRI machine to capture fast-decaying signal from tissue, which is why regular MRI is not able to image bone and teeth." As reported in Health Talk , SWIFT can detect cracks only 20 micrometers wide, approximately the size of two red blood cells. While MRI machines tend to be too costly for dental offices, the technique, and resulting understanding of cracks in teeth, can help to improve current dental care and can also be used to identify ways in which imaging can be improved for dental applications.

Could MRI be Used to Help Detect Cracks in Teeth?

08/29/16 - 6th Annual Midwest Engineering Entrepreneurship Network Conference Held at University of Minnesota; Included Visits to IEM-Affiliated Laboratories

The Midwest Engineering Entrepreneurship Network (MEEN) held it's 6th annual conference at the University of Minnesota on July 20th and 21st . The conference is intended to "provide a forum for sharing best practices and methods for overcoming challenges unique to Midwest engineering entrepreneurship centers." It was hosted by Dr. Mostafa Kaveh, Associate Dean of the College of Science and Engineering and Kirk Froggatt, Senior Fellow and Gemini Chair in Technology Management at the Technology Leadership Institute (TLI). Its attendees included faculty and staff members from a variety of Midwestern colleges and universities, and the two-day program included visits to the IEM-affiliated Medical Devices Center and Visible Heart Lab and sessions on the NSF-sponsored MIN-Corp, and NIH-sponsored MN-REACH programs.

Midwest Engineering Entrepreneurship Network

07/27/16 - AIMBE Executive Director Milan Yager to Speak at IEM Seminar on September 13, 2016

The Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM) will host a seminar, "The Science Behind Failed Public Policy," by Dr. Milan P. Yager, Executive Director, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 from 12:00pm-1:00pm.

The abstract for Dr. Yager's seminar is as follows: "Today, federal funding for biomedical research, as a percentage of federal spending, has fallen to the lowest level in modern history. For far too many years NIH has been receiving increasing numbers of grant applications and funded fewer and few. What life-saving idea was among the 41,000 grant applications that were not funded last year? The most powerful country in the world, with the strongest economy and the greatest wealth, has made the spending decisions causing Federal research, and specifically, biomedical research, to be nearly flat for over a decade. If the American public recognizes and supports more funding for biomedical research why hasn't Congress responded? If biomedical research has such a high ROI and significant financial return, why isn't America investing more? The reasons behind the failed public policy not to invest in biomedical innovation is actually quite simple. It begins with a story. This discussion of policy and politics might not be what you are expecting. But it surely will impact your research, life, and wellbeing."

07/27/16 - IEM Seed Funding Leads to $3 Million R01 for Brenda Ogle

An IEM Exploratory Grant in 2014 has led to a $3 Million R01 grant for which IEM Member Dr. Brenda A. Ogle, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, is a Principal Investigator. The IEM grant "provided funds to support preliminary experiments that led to the R01 submission," says Dr. Ogle, who is collaborating with former IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Jianyi Zhang, now Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The R01 grant "Stem Cell Therapy for Myocardial Repair" will explore the use of 3D printing of replacement grafts to repair the heart tissue of patients who have experienced myocardial infarction. Dr. Ogle says that "if successful, 3D printing of cardiac tissues will improve outcomes of acute cardiac injury and will inform prospects for generating intact organs."

07/27/16 - Visible Heart Lab is Stimulating Environment for Students

The IEM-Affiliated Visible Heart Laboratory has evolved into becoming a great place for students to learn about cardiac anatomy and harness the capabilities of 3D printing. As reported by the Minnesota Daily, the lab, which was established in 1997, has been at the forefront of heart research, including the reanimation of human hearts. Approximately 45 students work in the lab, and their enthusiasm for the research creates a very positive work environment. "It's the fun part about the job; it's really working with the young mind and talent; they keep things moving forward," says the Visible Heart Lab's Principal Investigator, Dr. Paul A. Iaizzo, Professor of Surgery and IEM Associate Director for Education and Outreach. More recently, the lab has become one of the 3-D printing hubs for clinical applications at the University of Minnesota. "We scan human hearts with CT and/ MRI and then we can create the digital models," says Dr. Iaizzo. "Once you've created the digital models, you might as well try and print 'em."

At Visible Heart Lab, Anatomy Gains New Perspective

07/27/16 - Kevin Peterson Contributes to NIH Practice Transformation Website

IEM Member Dr. Kevin A. Peterson, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Director, Center for Excellence in Primary Care, was among a group of experts who contributed to the new Practice Transformation for Physicians and Health Care Teams website. Dr. Peterson was asked by the program director from the National Institutes of Health to help create the website, which focuses on the delivery of primary care to the more than 100 million Americans who have either diabetes or pre-diabetes. The stated rationale for the website and its sought transformation is that it will benefit health care practices "by preparing them for changing reimbursement models and by building a more satisfied and effective diabetes care delivery team."

NIH Practice Transformation for Physicians and Health Care Teams

07/27/16 - Alan Hirsch Discusses with KARE 11 Campaign for Use of Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke

IEM Member Dr. Alan T. Hirsch, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Community Health, Director of the Vascular Medicine Program and Co-Director of the Minnesota Heart Health Program, discussed with KARE 11, the "Ask about Aspirin" campaign for the prevention of heart attack and stroke. Dr. Hirsch says that, for individuals between the ages of 50 and 69, taking a daily low-dose aspirin can lower the risk of heart attack or stroke by 20%, resulting in as many as 11,000 to 12,000 fewer of these incidents over the lifetime of those who might benefit from the campaign in Minnesota. Dr. Hirsch, noting that aspirin use has both benefit and risk, advises that all individuals know their individual benefit and risk, and first discuss this approach with their primary care physician. "Aspirin is usually safe and effective," says Dr. Hirsch, "but has to be right for the individual. What should you do?: 'Ask about aspirin!'".

Ask About Aspirin Campaign to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke

07/27/16 - Douglas Yee Discusses Cancer Moonshot Summit with MPR

IEM Member Dr. Douglas Yee, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Director of the Masonic Cancer Center, discussed with MPR the Cancer Moonshot Summit, which was held at sites throughout the nation on June 29th. The University of Minnesota hosted one of the largest regional sites, with nearly 500 attendees. Dr. Yee attended the event's main site in Washington, D.C. at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden's office. While there have been major efforts to fight cancer in the past, Dr. Yee says that now is a good time for the Moonshot effort due to the ability of researchers to collaborate through to the use of electronic sharing of data and recent advancements in the field of genomics, allowing researchers to "make progress where we could never have done this before."

MPR News: Cancer Moonshot Summit
University of Minnesota Cancer Moonshot

07/27/16 - Gwenyth Fischer Discusses Life-Saving Pulse Oximeter Neonatal Screening with Pioneer Press

IEM Member Dr. Gwenyth Fischer, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, discussed with the Pioneer Press the use of pulse oximeters on newborns to detect potentially life-threatening congenital heart defects so that they can be treated. While the technology has been used in pediatrics for decades, it has more recently become commonplace in the U.S. as a screening tool for congenital heart disease, largely due to the efforts of Minnesotan Annamarie Saarinen, who lobbied the federal government to make pulse oximeter neonatal screening mandatory. Dr. Fischer says that the technology has made a significant impact, as she "can personally attest to several babies caught here with congenital heart disease before they left, potentially saving them from disaster." Ms. Saarinen has since worked with a California-based company to develop a portable and affordable mobile version of the technology to make it viable for screening newborns in developing nations, where its use is being supported by the Newborn Foundation, a St. Paul-based nonprofit founded by Ms. Saarinen.

St. Paul Nonprofit on a Global Quest to Save Newborns

07/27/16 - Research Team Led by Louis Mansky Makes Significant Discovery about Uniqueness of Retrovirus Structures

A team led by IEM Member Dr. Louis M. Mansky, Professor of Diagnostic & Biological Sciences and Microbiology & Immunology and Director of the Institute for Molecular Virology, has discovered that the structures of retroviruses tend to be distinctive from one another, which has significant implications for future retrovirus research. As reported in Science Daily, Dr. Mansky says "most researchers assume that all retroviruses are just like HIV, but they're not. We cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach when studying retroviruses and discovering new strategies for antiviral treatments or vaccines." Dr. Mansky hopes that the findings will serve as a foundation from which scientists can "determine how to stop these viruses from causing deadly diseases in humans such as cancer and AIDS."

Distinct Differences in Structure, Features of Retroviruses

07/27/16 - SpaceX-9 Mission Includes Bruce Hammer's Experiment to Evaluate Accuracy of CMRR Microgravity Simulator

On July 17th, the SpaceX-9 mission successfully launched a rocket toward the International Space Station containing a research experiment from IEM Member Dr. Bruce E. Hammer, Professor of Radiology at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR). As reported in Space Online , the experiment will test the accuracy of a device at the CMRR that simulates microgravity for researching bone loss in space, by evaluating changes in bone cells in the microgravity environment of the low-Earth-orbiting space station. The results will then be matched with those of the same experiments performed at the CMRR, to determine if the simulator's microgravity environment is sufficient for this research. If so, it will provide a ground-based platform to study how simulated microgravity affects cell function. Doing experiments aboard the ISS is difficult due to crew time availability, limited access, cost and logistics required to bring a payload to and from low earth orbit. "When you're doing experiments on Earth that simulate microgravity, you're in a much better-controlled environment," says Dr. Hammer.

06/27/16 - IEM Director Named Recipient of the Prestigious IEEE Biomedical Engineering Award

Dr. Bin He, Director of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medtronic-Bakken Endowed Chair for Engineering in Medicine, has been named the recipient of 2017 IEEE Biomedical Engineering Award for outstanding contributions to biomedical engineering, according to IEEE President Barry L. Shoop. IEEE is one of the largest professional organizations in the world with 400,000+ members. This Award is given annually to an individual, a team or multiple recipients up to three in number, for exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions, which have made impacts on the profession of biomedical engineering and society. Dr. He is cited for his significant contributions to neuroengineering and neuroimaging. This is the highest IEEE award in biomedical engineering given to a member(s) or non-member(s).

06/27/16 - Stephen Haines Featured on KSTP for Treatment of Young Patient with Brain Condition

IEM Member Dr. Stephen J. Haines, Professor and Department Head of Neurosurgery, was featured in a KSTP story for his treatment of a patient with Hydrocephalus, referred to as "water on the brain," an incurable condition that affects more than one million Americans. "If for some reason you make more spinal fluid than you absorb back into your blood stream, the fluid will build up and cause increased pressure in the head," says Dr. Haines. His patient, an eight-year-old boy, developed the potentially life-threatening condition following a premature birth. Dr. Haines can treat Hydrocephalus by either popping the membrane that holds the fluid or by installing shunts, and for this patient, he installed two shunts that will connect together and drain the fluid to the child's belly. The patient and his family established a foundation and organized a golf tournament to support Hydrocephalus research and increase awareness of the condition.

Hydrocephalus Treatment; Water-on-the-Brain Awareness Golf

06/27/16 - Walter Low & Dan Garry Discuss with BBC & CNN Use of Chimeras for Transplant

IEM Members Dr. Walter C. Low, Professor of Neurosurgery, and Dr. Daniel Garry, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Lillehei Heart Institute, discussed with the BBC and CNN research on the growing of human organs in pigs to be used for transplant, and the issues associated with it. Dr. Low says that the technique could potentially be used to create a number of different types of organs and cells, including pancreas, heart, liver, kidney, lung, cornea, and immune cells; and that "the organs and cells would be exact genetic copies, but much younger and healthier versions, and you would not need to take immunosuppressive drugs which carry side-effects." Dr. Garry states that these personalized humanized organs in gene-edited animals would provide new pre-clinical research models that would be invaluable to study the impact of emerging therapies and disease progression.

However, the NIH has banned funding this research due to concerns of the resulting chimeras developing human cognitive states. Dr. Garry objects to the ban due to its inhibition of medical progress and the creation of a stigma associated with the research. And Dr. Low says that this risk can be avoided. "We can address this issue by examining the brains from each type of chimera that is generated to produce a specific type of organ. For example, if in generating liver chimeras we observe that the pre-term brains also exhibit substantial off-target contribution to areas such as frontal cortex then these fetuses would not be allowed to be born."

CNN: Human Organs Grown in Pigs May Help Transplant Patients
BBC: U.S. Bid to Grow Human Organs for Transplant Inside Pigs

06/27/16 - Jakub Tolar Featured in Ottawa Sun for Treatment of Child Suffering from Severe Skin Disease

Dr. Jakub Tolar, Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Stem Cell Institute and IEM Member, will treat a child from Canada who suffers from Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare and potentially-fatal skin disease. As reported by the Ottawa Sun, the child, who's nicknamed "Butterfly Boy," will travel to the University of Minnesota to have a blood and bone marrow transplant as part of a clinical trial being led by Dr. Tolar. "The advantage of bone marrow transplant is that you don't just treat a single patch of skin: This is a whole body approach," says Dr. Tolar. While he warns that the treatment doesn't work for all patients, it can have a very positive impact when it does work. "You can go from a kid who is in constant pain, who is wheelchair bound, who has bandages changed for several hours, to someone who goes to school, to the beach, plays in the orchestra, and goes on with his life," says Dr. Tolar.

Butterfly Boy off to U.S. for Therapy

06/27/16 - David Largaespada Co-Founds Gene Editing Company

IEM Member Dr. David A. Largaespada, Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development has co-founded B-MoGen Biotechnologies Inc., a gene editing company. As reported in Inquiry, the company is developing a molecular "processor" to enable more complex genome engineering, which will make it possible for scientists to identify rare edited cells, speeding up the process of gene editing. In addition, the company is pioneering new non-viral gene delivery systems. "We anticipate these technologies could help researchers develop better cell-based therapies," says Dr. Largaespada. "For example, it could make it easier to take immune cells from patients and insert genes that make them into efficient cancer killers." The company also utilizes the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system to deliver genes to targeted cells for research, a technology developed by IEM Member Dr. Perry Hackett.

Startup Contributes to Growing Statewide Gene Editing Industry

06/27/16 - Brenda Ogle Receives the 2016 Mullen-Spector-Truax Women's Leadership Award

Dr. Brenda A. Ogle, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and IEM Member, has received the 2016 Mullen-Spector-Truax Women's Leadership Award for her significant impact on women's leadership development at the University and the potential for long-term sustainability of the programs and initiatives she has led, including the Women's Faculty Cabinet in the Provost's office, for which she serves as co-Chair. The Mullen/Spector/Truax Endowment was established in 1997 to provide funds for the Mullen/Spector/Truax Women's Leadership Award given annually to a faculty or staff woman at the University who has made outstanding contributions to women's leadership development. Dr. Ogle's research program investigates the mechanisms of stem cell differentiation with a goal of generating new technologies that advance stem cell biology and promote translation of stem cell research into clinical practice.

Brenda Ogle Receives Mullen-Spector-Truax Award

05/31/16 - Neuroengineering IGERT Outreach Efforts Impact Nearly 2,000 Minnesota Elementary and High School Students

Trainees and associates within the Neuroengineering National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program have led 21 separate outreach efforts that have reached 1,975 elementary and high school students in Minnesota. The purpose of these efforts is to promote STEM awareness and have students gain a better appreciation of the brain, the neuroscience behind how we learn, and how fundamental technological advances are changing how we interface with the brain to treat various brain disorders.

The IGERT program is supported by a $3 Million NSF grant and was initiated by the IEM-affiliated Center for Neuroengineering (CNE). It is managed by the Department of Biomedical Engineering with trainees from biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and neuroscience graduate programs. Dr. Bin He, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of IEM and CNE, is the Principal Investigator and IGERT Director. Dr. Theoden I. Netoff, IEM member and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering is Director of Outreach of the IGERT Program.

University of Minnesota Neuroengineering IGERT Program

05/31/16 - Michael Garwood Co-Assigned Patent with Mayo Clinic Researchers on Improved Imaging for Alzheimer’s Detection

IEM Member Dr. Michael Garwood, Professor of Radiology-CMRR, has been co-assigned a patent with collaborators from the Mayo Clinic on a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) method that allows for the non-invasive detection of amyloid plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease. As reported by Twin Cities Business, the technology makes it possible to visualize and quantify the numbers of microscopic plaques in the living brain, which could lead to earlier diagnosis, provide a tool to assess disease progression, and facilitate the development and validation of effective treatment for the disease.

Mayo Patent Watch

05/31/16 - Xiao-Hong Zhu Participates in Research to Explore Potential Treatment for Concussion

Dr. Xiao-Hong Zhu, Associate Professor of Radiology-CMRR, and IEM Member is collaborating with the Mayo Clinic to study the potential benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) in treating concussions. As reported by the Rochester Post-Bulletin, Dr. Zhu and Dr. Brent Bauer of Mayo will perform evaluations of the test subjects, collegiate football linemen who have reported no more than two career-related concussions. The evaluations, which will be conducted before and after the drug or a placebo are administered to the participants, will include the measurement of neurologic factors and brain activity. The findings could potentially be used to manage the treatment traumatic brain injury resulting from football and other causes.

Mayo Clinic, U. of M. Eye New Frontier in Managing Football-Related Concussions

05/31/16 - Ann Van de Winckel Awarded Grant-in-Aid by OVPR

IEM Member Dr. Ann Van de Winckel, PhD, MSc, PT, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation's Program in Physical Therapy, has been awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship (GIA) from the Office of the Vice President for Research of the University of Minnesota for her study titled "Correlational Analysis and Functional Connectivity between Brain Lesions and Sensorimotor Impairments in Stroke." As stated on the OVPR’s website, "GIA funds are awarded in the belief that the quality of faculty research or artistic endeavors is a major determinant of the overall vitality of the institution" and "to act as seed money for developing projects to the point of attracting more complete, external funding."

Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship

05/31/16 - Members Co-Organize 2nd Annual Midwest Tumor Microenvironment Meeting

Several IEM Members co-organized the 2nd Annual Midwest Tumor Microenvironment Meeting, held May 18th to 20th at the University’s McNamara Alumni Center and hosted by the Masonic Cancer Center. The organizers included Drs. James B. McCarthy, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology; Paolo P. Provenzano, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Kaylee Schwertfeger, Associate Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology; and David K. Wood, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering. The goal of the conference, which was co-sponsored by IEM, is "to leverage the strength of tumor microenvironment researchers in the Midwest to re-engineer the tumor microenvironment to improve tumor therapy/normalize the tumor microenvironment."

05/31/16 - Students of IEM Members Receive Outstanding Basic Science Presentation Awards

Students of IEM Members received "Outstanding Basic Science Presentation" awards at the 10th Annual Sickle Cell Disease Research and Educational Symposium and 39th National Sickle Cell Disease Scientific Meeting, which was held April 15th to 18th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Huy Tran ("Gender-specific Analgesic Effect of Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor in Sickle Mice,"), Dr. Megan Uhelski ("Sensitization of C-fiber nociceptors in a murine model of SCD is decreased by the inhibition of anandamide hydrolysis through local administration of URB59,") and Dr. Ying Wang ("Acupuncture Analgesia in Sickle Mice"), are students of Dr. Kalpna Gupta, Professor of Medicine and Co-Chair of IEM Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering Theme. Dr. Uhelski is also a student of IEM Member Dr. Donald A. Simone, Professor and Department Chair and Division Director, Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences. Michele Case ("Resting state network connectivity analysis of patients with sickle cell disease using fMRI data") is a student of IEM Director, Dr. Bin He, Professor of Biomedical Engineering.

05/31/16 - Tay Netoff and Matt Johnson Awarded NSF REU Grant

IEM Members Dr. Theoden I. Netoff, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Matthew D. Johnson, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, have been awarded an NSF Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) grant on Neural Systems Engineering. This program will support 8 undergraduates for a 10-week summer training program starting this summer. This REU program was organized by the IEM affiliated Center for Neuroengineering (CNE) with CNE members Hubert Lim and Bin He as Co-Investigators, and will partner with the IGERT systems neuroengineering training program to enhance UMN's interdisciplinary Neuroengineering program. These undergraduates will work with graduate students over the summer on short projects to deepen their understanding of science and graduate school. Students selected for this program are from all over the United States, with particular emphasis on underrepresented minorities and students from small schools.

04/29/16 - Record Attendance at Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium

The 4th Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium attracted 483 registrants to its two-day event, which was organized by IEM and held at the Commons Hotel on April 14th and 15th. The globally-recognized event featured plenary, invited and highlight talks, and panel discussions by the leaders of the neuromodulation field, from academia, government, and industry. In addition, there were close to 100 poster presentations representing 37 different institutions, 18 non-profit organizations, 10 corporations and 12 countries.

The groundbreaking research of two of the Symposium presenters has made national news in April. Plenary speaker Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone of Harvard University was featured on NPR's Fresh Air on April 21st for his work in utilizing transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treating patients with autism. Among the highlight talks and posters presented was "Implanted Brain Computer Interface for Real-Time Cortical Control of Hand Movements in a Human with Quadriplegia," research that was featured in the New York Times during the same week and published in the April 13th online edition of the journal Nature.

"The quality of presentations at the symposium represents one of the finest conferences in the world. The success of the symposium reflects the emerging nature of the neuromodulation field and the leading positions of the University of Minnesota and Minnesota neuromodulation industry," said Dr. Bin He, Symposium Chair and Director of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine.

Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium
2016 Poster and Travel Award Winners
MNS 2016 Photos

04/29/16 - Design of Medical Devices Conference Celebrates its 15th Anniversary

The 15th Anniversary Design of Medical Devices Conference (DMD) was held from April 11th to 14th at the Commons Hotel, McNamara Alumni Center and TCF Bank Stadium. As reported by KARE 11, the theme of this year's event was 3D and biological printing, and the conference also included numerous sessions on a variety of other topics, including wearable technologies for home healthcare applications and a live-stream of a surgery performed in Pennsylvania. DMD Conference Chair Dr. Arthur G. Erdman, Director of the IEM-affiliated Medical Devices Center, says that DMD is held in the optimal location: "What better place than Minnesota, where we have the highest density of medical device companies in the world."

Design of Medical Devices Conference
U. of M. Hosts Medical Device Conference

04/29/16 - IEM Hosts Shanghai Jiao Tong University Delegation

The Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM) hosted a faculty delegation in medical engineering from the Med-X Institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), China, that visited IEM-affiliated centers and labs on March 28th and 29th. IEM also co-hosted and co-organized with University of Minnesota's China Center a welcome banquet for the delegation. that included University of Minnesota Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Karen Hanson, SJTU Vice President Lisa Xu, and 41 faculty members and deans from both universities. IEM has cultivated key relationships and helped develop research collaborations with SJTU's Med-X Institute, the School of Biomedical Engineering, as well as biomedical and engineering faculty at the University of Minnesota for many years. The workshop focused upon expanding future research collaborations at the nexus of engineering with medicine, and was co-moderated by Dr. Bin He, IEM Director and Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Another important aspect of SJTU's visit focused upon student exchanges and a new, dual-degree program in sports management between the two universities.

SJTU Delegation Visits UMN

04/29/16 - 3-D Modeling Plays a Vital Role in TAVR Success; Shows Promise for Wide Range of Medical Procedures

The Laboratory of Dr. Paul A. Iaizzo, Professor of Surgery and IEM Associate Director for Education and Outreach, collaborated with cardiologist Dr. Gregory A. Helmer to generate a 3-D model of a patient's heart to find the optimal size for replacement of her aortic valve. Having the right sized valve was particularly critical to the success of this transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure performed at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Such modeling performed by Dr. Iaizzo's team at the IEM-affiliated Visible Heart Lab continues to show the promise for such technologies to improve patient outcomes in a variety of procedures. "We hope that for clinical teams to have such a resource like this at the University will be something that will ultimately improve care delivery," says Dr. Iaizzo.

To Repair Karlie's Weakened Heart Surgeons Turn to 3d Printer

04/29/16 - Mind-Controlled Drone Race Utilizes Technology First Demonstrated by IEM Director

The University of Florida hosted last weekend what was billed as the first-ever race between mind-controlled drones, utilizing a technology that was first demonstrated at the University of Minnesota in 2013 by Dr. Bin He, Director of IEM and Center for Neuroengineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering. As reported by the Associated Press, The race, which was held in an indoor basketball court, involved 16 "pilots" who strove to fly a drone through a 10-yard course. Dr. He's group demonstrated in 2013 mind-controlled drone flying in a gym on the campus of the University of Minnesota, which stimulated a number of world-wide efforts on non-medical application of brain-computer interface (BCI). Organizers of the race are seeking to make BCI more mainstream, by having it used for everyday tasks, beyond laboratory settings and medical applications, a future that is becoming more viable as BCI equipment becomes more affordable. "The progress of the BCI field has been faster than I had thought ten years ago. We are getting closer and closer to broad application," says Dr. He.

Mind-controlled Drone Race
Mind Over Mechanics

04/29/16 - Douglas Yee Working to Efficiently Evaluate Breast Cancer Drugs

IEM Member Dr. Douglas Yee, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Masonic Cancer Center, serves on the Executive Committee and is Co-Chair of the Agent Committee of the I-SPY2 clinical trial, which has successfully evaluated several breast cancer drugs simultaneously, with three of those now progressing to the next phase of testing. This approach is unique from that of most clinical trials, in which drugs are tested one at a time, and it saves a lot of time in a process that typically lasts for five or more years for each drug. "To me, it demonstrates that we can identify active agents that are effective in the treatment of breast cancer in a much shorter timeline," says Dr. Yee. The multi-center trial has tested 15 chemotherapy drugs since it began in 2010, and focuses on both the effectiveness of the various drugs as part of a chemotherapy regimen prior to surgery and matched to the molecular profile of a patient's tumor so that the most effective of the drugs can be used for each patient. An arm of the trial is being developed to switch the drug for patients who don't respond sufficiently to their initially matched treatment.

Research Efficiency

04/29/16 - Roni Evans Discusses Challenge of Studying Chronic Pain's Impact on Young Adults in Story Picked Up by Associated Press

IEM Member Dr. Roni L. Evans, Associate Professor, Center for Spirituality and Healing, recently discussed the challenges of researching chronic pain in young adults with the Minnesota Daily, a story that was reported by the Associated Press and also ran in the Star Tribune and MPR. Chronic pain is reported by approximately one-quarter of people 18 to 29 years of age, and can significantly affect their lives by limiting them from activities they enjoy and isolating them socially. But studying pain in young adults can be challenging due to the subjective nature of measuring it. Dr. Evans says that "You can't see that someone has pain. It's not like a broken leg or a broken arm; it is something that someone experiences, so you really have to rely on what they're telling you...and that makes it hard to study."

Young and Aching: U. of M. Students Suffer from Chronic Pain

04/29/16 - Bruce KenKnight Receives Outstanding Achievement Award

IEM Industrial Fellow Dr. Bruce H. KenKnight received the Outstanding Achievement Award, the University of Minnesota's highest recognition for alumni. The award is conferred "on graduates or former students of the University who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen fields or professions or in public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level." Dr. KenKnight has had a medical technology career spanning 30 years and holds more than 250 patents worldwide. He has made substantial contributions to the University of Minnesota by serving in several advisory roles and has been Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering since 2001.

Outstanding Achievement Award

04/29/16 - Jeffrey McCullough Discusses Zika Virus in New York Times

Dr. J. Jeffrey McCullough, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, American Red Cross Professor of Transfusion Medicine, and IEM Member discussed with the New York Times the logistical challenges of keeping the Zika virus from contaminating blood supplies in effected areas. The FDA approved a new test to screen donated blood, which is needed to avoid the contamination of blood supplies as the virus spreads into the U.S. Without such screening, blood banks in areas most likely to be hit with outbreaks, such as the Gulf Coast states, would have had to import supplies from northern states not yet effected by the virus. "It is logistically difficult, but it can be done," said Dr. McCullough. But the new screening test, which will be initially implemented in Puerto Rico, will help to newly-effected areas to avoid that situation.

Zika Virus Blood Test Puerto Rico

03/29/16 - Kelvin Lim Discusses Traumatic Brain Injury's Psychological Impacts and Treatment Strategies

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Kelvin O. Lim, Professor and Vice Chair for Research of the Department of Psychiatry, discusses in MinnPost the long-term psychological impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and new treatment strategies to address it. TBI, which is often the result of car accidents or combat, can lead to behavioral changes and depression as connections between neurons are damaged, disrupted or disconnected. One of the treatment strategies being explored by Dr. Lim is the mapping of brain-circuit abnormalities and determining whether those can be addressed with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which will be investigated in a new study conducted at the VA. The effectiveness of TMS and other stimulation techniques to treat TBI is "of great interest to us here at the university," says Dr. Lim.

Psychological Impact of Brain Injury can be Long-Lasting

03/29/16 - FDA Releases New Guidance for Neurological Devices

On March 4th, the FDA released draft guidance on considerations for "Medical devices intended to slow, stop, or reverse the effects of neurological disease face challenges with regard to collecting safety and efficacy data in a clinical study, when less invasive pharmacotherapy approaches may be better understood or more-well accepted in the clinical community." As reported by the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society, the guidance can apply to devices that treat the progression of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and primary dystonia. The agency's statement says that "study designs should aim to distinguish between symptomatic benefit(s) and disease-altering benefit(s) that slow disease progression and quantify the magnitude of such benefits in terms of biomarkers and clinical outcome assessments."

Neurological Device Trials: FDA Offers Draft Guidance
FDA Announcement on Neurological Devices

03/29/16 - Richard James Proposes Using Twisted X-Rays for Structure Determination

IEM Member Dr. Richard D. James, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, and his colleagues have discovered that twisted X-rays could be used as a better method of performing X-ray crystallography in materials science and biology research. As reported by the International Union of Crystallography, twisted X-rays could better define yet-unknown helical structures than traditional approaches as many of these structures "do not readily crystallize as three-dimensional periodic structures," and the process of crystallization can alter materials. The twisted X-rays could overcome these limitations by "matching the symmetry of the incoming radiation to the symmetry of the structure to be studied." Dr. James says that he and his students are now investigating how to build a source for twisted X-rays, which is challenging because the ability to manipulate X-rays is limited.

Twisted X Rays Unravel the complexity of Helical Structures

03/29/16 - Andrew Grande Treats Painful Nerve Condition with Surgery

IEM Member Dr. Andrew W. Grande, Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery and Co-director of the University of Minnesota's Earl Grande Stroke and Stem Cell Laboratory, performs a surgical procedure to address Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), a very painful nerve condition. While most of the approximately 150,000 patients diagnosed with TN each year in the U.S. can be treated with medication, some require brain surgery to relieve the pain. One such patient is a mother of four from Hudson, Wisconsin, who's experience with the condition and successful surgery by Dr. Grande are profiled in the Hudson Star- Observer. The surgical procedure, called microvascular decompression, relieves pressure on the trigeminal nerve.

Hudson Mother Comes Back from Debilitating Pain

03/29/16 - Emil Lou Discusses Aspirin's Ability to Reduce Cancer Risk

Dr. Emil Lou, Assistant Professor of Medicine and IEM Member, discussed the findings of a recent study published in JAMA Oncology showing that regular use of aspirin can lower a person's cancer risk. As reported by the Academic Health Center's publication Health Talk, the research was based on data from large, decades-long studies of 88,000 women and 47,000 men. The impact was most significant for gastrointestinal cancers, including a 19% reduction for colorectal cancer. Aspirin use to achieve this reduction resulted from taking from .5 to 1.5 tablets per week for a minimum of 6 years. Dr. Lou says that the study "represents one of the most comprehensive studies to date supporting regular aspirin use as a low-cost intervention to help decrease the risk of gastrointestinal cancers."

Benefits of Aspirin May Include Lower Cancer Risk

03/29/16 - IEM Members Offering Cell-Based Therapy Training to University of Minnesota Physicians and Scientists

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Allison Hubel, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and IEM Member David H. McKenna, Jr., Associate Professor of Lab Medicine and Pathology, are directing the Hematology Workforce Training Program, which seeks to directly address the growing need for researchers with cell-based therapy skills. "The ability to treat all of the millions of patients who would benefit from these therapies is limited in part by the lack of trained physicians and scientists in this field," says Dr. Hubel. Funded by an NIH Research Education Program (R25) grant, this short-term training program is customized to a trainee's specific needs and interests and involves both one-month rotations and a research project that are customized to the trainee's career needs. The program is actively recruiting new trainees.

Hematology Workforce Training Program

02/29/16 - Paul Iaizzo Discusses 3-D Printing in Washington Post

Dr. Paul A. Iaizzo, Professor of Surgery and IEM Associate Director for Education and Outreach, discusses the application of 3-D printing of hearts to surgery, medical device design and education in a recent edition of the Washington Post. The surgical applications include the printing of a model heart prior to surgery to help the patient and family members better understand the situation and provide them with the peace-of-mind that comes from understanding it. "It's powerful and comforting for parents to really understand what the problem is," says Dr. Iaizzo. The educational applications include the use of printed hearts for surgical residents and students in the medical school, which Dr. Iaizzo says "puts that anatomy in the brain in a three-dimensional way that never could have been done another way."

How 3-D Imaging Could Change Heart Surgery in the Future

02/29/16 - John Bischof Discusses Organ Preservation in Economist

John C. Bischof, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and IEM Associate Director for Development, has a proposed solution to one of the major challenges of warming cryopreserved organs: heating the tissue quickly and uniformly enough to avoid the damage that would occur from the crystallization or cracking (fracture) that would otherwise occur during the process. Dr. Bischof's approach is to apply tiny (nano) particles of magnetite to the cryoprotectant fluid that bathes the organ, then heat them and the organ by placing the system in a fluctuating magnetic field, an approach he has successfully tested on heart valves and arteries. It is one of several approaches presented in a recent Economist article to allow for the better cooling and warming of organs to achieve the ultimate objective of making many more of them available for transplantation.

Wait Not in Vain

02/29/16 - Louis Mansky's Research Could Lead to More Affordable HIV Drugs

IEM Member Dr. Louis M. Mansky, Chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences and Director of the Institute for Molecular Virology, was the lead author of a recent study showing how an RNA-based nucleoside, 5-aza-C, blocked the ability of HIV to spread. As reported in Infection Control Today, this could lead to more affordable HIV medications because RNA-based drugs can be produced in large quantities at a lower cost than most currently available HIV drugs, which are DNA-based. Dr. Mansky says that while 5-aza-C is not as effective at treating HIV as those current drugs,"we can use what we know to try mimicking 5-aza-C to discover new compounds that could be more effective while still being more affordable to produce." The study is being published in the American Society for Microbiology's journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Study Identifies Mechanism for Drug Target to Help Block HIV's Ability to Spread

02/29/16 - Research by John Osborn Shows that Drug-Resistant High Blood Pressure can be Controlled by Renal Denervation

Dr. John Osborn, Professor of Integrative Biology & Physiology, and IEM Member, was the lead investigator of a study showing that drug-resistant hypertension can be treated by completely ablating nerves to the kidneys. As reported by Medical Xpress, the research shows that arterial blood pressure was lowered when both efferent and afferent nerves between the brain and kidneys were ablated, but not when ablating only the afferent nerves. As a result, Dr. Osborn says that, "Although catheter-based renal nerve ablation is now possible, catheter design needs to be improved since present catheters appear only to partially denervate the kidney. Clearly, it is also important to develop a method to assess the completeness of denervation at the time of the procedure." The research was published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology.

Rat Renal Denervation Drug-Resistant Hypertension

02/29/16 - David Jacobs Conducts Research Showing that Environmental Contaminants in Low Doses Can Harm the Brain

IEM Member Dr. David R. Jacobs, Professor of Epidemiology & Community Health, was among a group of investigators who conducted research showing that persons who are repeatedly exposed to organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), such as DDT, are at greater risk for cognitive impairment. As reported by EurekAlert!, the research included approximately 1,000 individuals at 70 years of age in Uppsala, Sweden. Those with high levels of OCPs in their serum were found to have had three times the risk of future cognitive impairment compared to others who had low levels of the containments. While OCPs were already known to be neurotoxins, the findings are surprising because it shows that even a low level of exposure to OCPs can be harmful if it occurs during a long period of time. The research was published in Environmental International.

Low-Dose Exposure of Environmental Contaniments Can Be Harmful to Brain

02/29/16 - Walter Low and Ann Parr Discuss Relevance of Fetal Tissue to their Research in Treating Parkinson's and Spinal Cord Injury

IEM Members Drs. Walter Low and Ann Parr discuss the importance of fetal tissue to their research in a recent Star Tribune article highlighting the work of several University of Minnesota researchers who are using these types of cells. Walter C. Low, Professor of Neurosurgery, uses them as a positive control against which to assess the effective phenotype of differentiated stem cells from sources other than fetal tissue. "Our goal is to one day take a piece of your skin and make that into a pluripotent stem cell ... that makes dopamine neurons for treating Parkinson's patients," says Dr. Low. A more direct use of fetal tissue stem cells is being explored by Dr. Ann M. Parr, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of Spinal Neurosurgery, who is determining whether they can be used to repair damage to the spinal cord. "There are lots and lots of people out there who have chronic spinal cord injury and there is nothing to offer them" says Dr. Parr, who adds "it's the first time this has been a possibility."

From HIV to Parkinson's U. Researchers Say Fetal Tissue is Invaluable

01/29/16 - Bob Tranquillo's Pediatric Heart Valve Research Featured on KARE11

The pediatric heart valve development by IEM Member Dr. Robert T. Tranquillo, Professor and Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, was recently featured on KARE 11. Dr. Tranquillo is using decellularized tissue tubes grown in the lab from adult skin cells to develop a pediatric heart valve that will grow as the child does, eliminating the need for multiple surgeries, as children outgrow currently-available heart valves. "Our goal is to create an option that requires only one surgery," says Dr. Tranquillo, who has tested the valve in animals and plans to soon approach the FDA about progressing to a human clinical trial for a replacement of the artery in which the valve resides.

U. of M. Researchers Work on Heart Valve for Kids

01/29/16 - Boston Scientific's Randy Schiestl Elected AIMBE Fellow

IEM Industrial Advisory Board Member Randy Schiestl, Vice President of R&D, Global Technology at Boston Scientific, has been elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows, due to his "important contributions to the field of engineering." AIMBE Fellows are nominated by existing Fellows, peer-reviewed by the College's Selection Committee, then voted-on by the entire College. The AIMBE College of Fellows "is comprised of around 1,500 individuals who have made significant contributions to the medical and biological engineering (MBE) community in academia, industry, government, and education that have transformed the world" and represents the top 2% of medical and biological engineering professionals. Randy stated, "It is truly an honor to be recognized as an engineering professional and to be included among those recognized by the AIMBE College of Fellows."

AIMBE Fellows

01/29/16 - Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium Profiled by Star Tribune

The Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (PDIC), founded by IEM Member Dr. Gwenyth Fischer, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, was profiled in the Star Tribune. The PDIC helps to shepherd the development of pediatric devices from their inception to their adoption by industry through grants and guidance to clear the regulatory, reimbursement and other hurdles that typically keep these devices from reaching the patients who need them. "What we'd like to do is take products as far as possible with university help, so that when they exit the university system into industry, they are much more likely to succeed," says Dr. Fischer. The University of Minnesota's Office of Discovery and Translation is providing approximately $250,000 in 2016 to support the PDIC's programs, including planned access to a pediatric device incubator and a program to solicit ideas from parents, in addition to engineers and physicians. The incubation will be done through collaboration with DesignWise Medical, founded by Bradley Slaker, current Innovation Fellow of the IEM-Affiliated Medical Devices Center.

University of Minnesota Volunteer Group Looks to Kick Start Development of Medical Devices for Kids

01/29/16 - Startup Evolving from Medical Devices Center's Innovation Fellows Raises $1.9 Million

A medical device startup that evolved from the research and development efforts of Innovation Fellows at the University of Minnesota's IEM-Affiliated Medical Devices Center (MDC) has raised $1.9 Million in a round of equity financing. As reported by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business News, Andarta Medical is developing a device that reduces the amount of time patients need to be on ventilators. The Innovation Fellows who invented the technology include James Krocak, Dr. Jesus A. Cabrera and Dr. John Ballard, members of the classes of 2013 and 2014. Dr. Cabrera says, "The rapid maturation and evolution of Andarta Medical demonstrates that the MDC's Innovation Fellowship plays a strong role in the MedTech ecosystem in Minnesota."

University of Minnesota Andarta Breathing Spinoff

01/29/16 - Medical Devices Center's Virtual Reality Research Improves Medical Device Design and Physician Training

The 3D Virtual Prototyping Lab housed at the IEM-affiliated Medical Devices Center is making strong contributions to medical device design and has the potential to do the same for physician training. As profiled by the publication STAT, university researchers are developing interactive virtual reality design tools that combine scanned anatomy with supercomputer simulations. "We can say, 'Let's bring up a heart with calcifications,' and design a pacemaker or a valve for it," says Arthur Erdman, IEM Medical Device Theme Co-Chair and Director of the Medical Devices Center. IEM Member Dan Keefe, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Director of the Interactive Visualization Lab, notes that VR can enable a whole new generation of user-friendly design tools for simulation-based engineering.

Virtual Reality Medical Device Testing

01/29/16 - Enhanced Neuron Imaging Technique Developed by Karen Mesce

IEM Member Dr. Karen A. Mesce, Professor of Neuroscience and Entomology, has developed a novel technique for the imaging of silver or gold-labeled tissue samples in a collaborative effort with colleagues at Agnes Scott College. As reported in the journal eLIFE, the new technique combines spectral confocal microscopy with the metal-staining of neurons. This results in neuronal tissue and cell specimens that are easily imaged in 3D and will allow for the re-imaging of older metal-impregnated samples that have been archived, even as imaging techniques continue to improve in the future. "The progression or stability of cancer or other disease could therefore be charted with accuracy over long periods of time," says Dr. Mesce.

Metal Labels Produce 3D Images of Neurons

01/29/16 - James Cloyd Named CTSI Mentor of the Year

IEM Member Dr. James Cloyd, Professor of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology in the College of Pharmacy and Director of the Center for Orphan Drug Research, has been named CTSI Mentor of the year. The honor is driven by mentees who nominate their research mentors. Nominations are reviewed by a committee of senior faculty who have extensive experience with research mentoring. The mentees' nominations noted Dr. Cloyd's "multi-disciplinary and innovative, question-based approach, infectious passion, open-door policy, and belief in his mentees' abilities." Dr. Cloyd was honored at CTSI's Annual Scholar Poster Session and Reception on January 20th at the McNamara Alumni Center.

Dr. Cloyd Named 2015 CTSI Mentor of the Year

01/29/16 - Valerie Pierre Developing Urinary Tract Infection Diagnostic Tool

IEM Member Dr. Valerie C. Pierre, Associate Professor of Chemistry, is developing a new tool for fast, affordable diagnoses of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which affect nearly half of all women during their lives. Urine cultures have been the most accurate method to diagnose UTI's, but because they typically take 48 to 72 hours, and more urgent treatment is needed, the diagnoses are often based upon symptoms, which are not as reliable. Dr. Pierre's method aims to make a more accurate rapid diagnosis and assess the bacteria's antibiotic resistance to determine the best course of treatment. CTSI provided critical support to Dr. Pierre, including funding, guidance and the facilitation of her collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. A prototype of the tool is being tested on clinical samples and long-term plans include submitting it to the FDA for approval.

How CTSI is Helping One University Investigator Convert Her Idea for Real-World Tool for Diagnosing Infections

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