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12/22/17 - Tay Netoff Appointed as New Director for IEM-Affiliated Center for Neuroengineering

IEM Member Dr. Tay I. Netoff, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, has been appointed as the new Director of the IEM-affiliated Center for Neuroengineering. Dr. Netoff has been with the University of Minnesota since 2006 and a member of the Center for Neuroengineering since its inception in 2007. His lab focuses on developing optimization tools to refine electrical stimulation therapies for treatment of epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, and he collaborates with many members of the Center for Neuroengineering. "I would like first to thank Bin He for the fantastic work he has done in establishing and developing the Center for Neuroengineering," says Dr. Netoff. "I am honored to take over the reins. As the new director, I look forward to supporting the training grants, seminar series, and developing the center in new directions."


12/22/17 - Jerry Vitek is Co-Principal Investigator for U.S. Study of Boston Scientific Deep Brain Stimulation System that Receives FDA Approval

IEM Member Dr. Jerrold L. Vitek, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, served as a Co-Principal Investigator for the U.S. study of the Boston Scientific Vercise deep brain stimulation (DBS) system that received FDA approval earlier this month. The Vercise system, which was launched by Boston Scientific in 2012, is used to treat Parkinson's disease patients by improving their waking hours and motor function. Dr. Vitek says that the system "changes the landscape of what physicians can do to help improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson's disease," and that it accomplished this by providing "an ability to sculpt the current field in the DBS target using novel technology that offers flexibility in programming. This flexibility allows us to target different regions of the subthalamic nucleus, which we believe will improve outcomes while reducing side effects." Dr. Philip A. Starr of the University of California-San Francisco also served as Co-Principal Investigator for the study.

Boston Scientific Shares Rise on U.S. Approval for Parkinson's Disease Treatment


12/22/17 - Electrical and Computer Engineering-Led Team Develops Graphene Nano-Tweezers for Grabbing Individual Biomolecules

IEM Members Drs. Sang-Hyun Oh and Steven Koester, each a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, have developed graphene nano-tweezers that can grab individual biomolecules. The tweezers are far more effective at grabbing these molecules because the graphene has the thickness of one atom, which is less than one-millionth of a millimeter. "Graphene is the thinnest material ever discovered, and it is this property that allows us to make these tweezers so efficient. No other material can come close," says Dr. Oh, who led the research team. "To build efficient electronic tweezers to grab biomolecules, basically we need to create miniaturized lightning rods and concentrate a huge amount of electrical flux on the sharp tip. The edges of graphene are the sharpest lightning rods." Dr. Koester, who led the work on fabricating the tweezers, says that another advantage of graphene is that "it is compatible with standard processing tools in the semiconductor industry, which will make it much easier to commercialize these devices in the future."

Researchers Develop Graphene Nano 'Tweezers' that Can Grab Individual Biomolecules


12/22/17 - Michael McAlpine Leads Team that Develops Lifelike 3D-Printed Replicas of Organs

A team led by IEM Member Dr. Michael C. McAlpine, Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has developed a method to produce 3D organ replicas that have more lifelike qualities than standard, hard plastic and rubber models. The organ printouts are made of a unique form of silicone that can be customized to replicate an organ's properties in a patient-specific manner. In addition, the models have 3D-printed soft sensors that can provide electronic force feedback to surgeons who would use them to simulate a surgery. "The organ models we are 3D printing are almost a perfect replica in terms of the look and feel of an individual's organ, using our custom-built 3D printers and real patients," says Dr. McAlpine. In the long term, Dr. McAlpine sees this technology advancing toward the printing of human replacement organs. "If we could replicate the function of these tissues and organs, we might someday even be able to create 'bionic organs' for transplants. I call this the 'Human X' project. It sounds a bit like science fiction, but if these synthetic organs look, feel, and act like real tissue or organs, we don't see why we couldn't 3D print them on-demand to replace real organs," says Dr. McAlpine.

Researchers Led by U. of M. Develop New Technology to 3D Print Lifelike Organs
U. of M. 3D-Printing Tech Changes Surgical Outcomes
New 3D Technology at U. of M. Provide Detailed Organ Replicas
3-D Printing Technology at U. of M. Changing Surgery Preparation


12/22/17 - Douglas Yee is Lead Author of Study Showing that Pathologic Complete Response Can Predict Survival in Women with High-Risk Breast Cancer

IEM Member Dr. Douglas Yee, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Director of the Masonic Cancer Center, is the lead author of a study showing that pathological complete response (pCR) can predict the event-free survival (EFS) and distant recurrent-free survival (DRFS) of women with high-risk breast cancer. The long-term, multicenter, multi-arm study included 746 patients with various forms of the disease, including triple-negative and hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative breast cancers. "Achieving pCR through any therapy for any subtype is a sufficient endpoint," says Dr. Yee. The findings were presented at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium held earlier this month.

Breast Cancer Pathologic Response Predicts Survival Risk


12/22/17 - Research Paper Authored by Kalpna Gupta Selected for Presentation at ASH Meeting; Students Receive Abstract Awards

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Kalpna Gupta, Professor of Medicine and Co-Chair of the IEM Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering Theme, was invited to speak at the Education sessions of the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta, GA, Dec 9-12, 2017. Dr. Gupta presented her article, "Targeting Novel Mechanisms of Pain in Sickle Cell Disease," which is one out of seven articles selected from this meeting to be included in First in Blood for publication in the journal Blood. In addition, two trainees from Dr. Gupta's laboratory, Huy Tran and Om Jahagirdar, each received $500 merit-based ASH Abstract Achievement Awards, which are given to acknowledge the accomplishments of hematologists-in-training, for their high-scoring abstracts. Huy Tran's abstract was entitled "Critical Role of Protein Arginine Deiminase 4 in Mast Cell Extracellular Trap Formation Leading to Neuropathic Pain in Sickle Mice," and Om Jahagirdar's was entitled "Diet and Gender Influence Survival in Sickle Cell Disease." ASH is attended by more than 20,000 participants and receives more than 20,000 abstracts for presentation.

Targeting Novel Mechanisms of Pain in SCD
ASH Abstract Achievement Awards


11/30/17 - Artificial Blood Vessel Developed by Bob Tranquillo Advancing Toward Clinical Application

IEM Member Dr. Robert T. Tranquillo, Professor and Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has demonstrated in a pre-clinical study the effectiveness of a decellularized cell-grown tissue tube that can potentially be used as an alternative to a synthetic tube for hemodialysis patients. In research that was published in Science Translational Medicine, "off-the-shelf" decellularized grafts were implanted into baboons, then recellularized over a 6 month period with the host's cells, after which the biologically-engineered grafts were still strong despite repeated puncture with a dialysis needle and did not show signs of immune rejection. "So what makes our material different is the ability for it to become cellularized from the patient's own cells and become a living tissue so it can heal," says Dr. Tranquillo. This healing ability makes the grafts superior to synthetic grafts, which have a greater risk of clotting, infection and immune rejection. "We have enough evidence that this can work in a patient without posing an adverse risk. That is a big milestone for us to get into a clinic," says Dr. Tranquillo

Lab-Grown Blood Vessels Closer to Human Trials
New Tissue-Engineered Blood Vessel Replacements One Step Closer to Human Trials


11/30/17 - Keshab Parhi & David Odde Elected AAAS Fellows

Dr. Keshab K. Parhi, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Dr. David J. Odde, IEM Associate Director for Development, have been elected as American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellows, by the Association's Council for their "efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished." In his election, Dr. Parhi was recognized "for his contributions to architectures and methodologies for VLSI design of digital signal processing systems and physical layer communication systems that form the backbone of the Internet." Dr. Odde was recognized "for his contributions to the understanding of the self assembly and force generation of microtubules, F-actin, and associated proteins." Drs. Parhi and Odde will be inducted during a ceremony on February 17th at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

AAAS and University of Minnesota Announce 2017 Fellows


11/30/17 - Kalpna Gupta Discusses the Targeting of Pain at Sickle Cell Disease Conference Organized by the American Physiological Society

IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Kalpna Gupta, Professor of Medicine and Co-Chair of the IEM Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering Theme, delivered a speech entitled "Targeting Pain at its Source in Sickle Cell Disease" at the Physiological and Pathophysiological Consequences of Sickle Cell Disease conference in Washington, D.C, in early November, at which the leading experts in sickle cell disease (SCD) research convened. The causes of and treatment for pain associated with SCD, in which a mutation causes red blood cells to form into a sickle shape, was among the focus areas of science presented at the conference. SCD affects over 100,000 Americans, and millions globally. Pain is one of the major comorbidities of SCD without satisfactory treatment.

Sickle Cell Conference Focuses on Causes and Pathways to a Cure


11/30/17 - Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellow Alum, Brian Krohn, Profiled in Star Tribune

Dr. Brian Krohn, a graduate of the Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center (MDC) Innovation Fellows Program, was profiled in a Star Tribune article for his innovativeness. During his MDC fellowship, Dr. Krohn worked with colleagues on the development of a tool that helps brain surgeons differentiate between healthy and cancerous brain tissue during their removal of tumors. More recently, Dr. Krohn has invented an app, with NSF and NIH funding, to help people who suffer from snoring with a game that strengthens users' upper airway muscles. "He's just one of those people who are naturally innovative," says Davis Fay, Core Manager of the IEM 3D Printing Core. Steven Thomalla, a Lab Supervisor at the MDC, says that Dr. Krohn "follows unmet needs. Brian is not biased in what he might work on. His next project might be in space development."

St. Paul Inventor Brian Krohn Combats Snoring; Creates Wizard Tools
U. of M. Lands Patent for Using Synthetic DNA to Target Heart Failure


10/31/17 - David Odde Named Associate Director for Development of IEM

Dr. David J. Odde has been named Associate Director for Development of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM). Dr. Odde is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota who studies the mechanics of cell division and migration. Trained academically as a chemical engineer, Dr. Odde joined the newly created Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota in 1999. In his research, Dr. Odde's group builds computer models of cellular and molecular self-assembly and force-generation-dissipation dynamics, and tests the models experimentally using digital microscopic imaging of cells ex vivo and in engineered microenvironments. Current applications include the modeling of chemotherapeutic effects on cell division, molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration, and migration of cancer cells through complex microenvironments such as the brain. Ultimately, his group seeks to use the models to perform virtual screens of potential therapeutic strategies. Dr. Odde is an elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and is the contact Principal Investigator for the Physical Sciences in Oncology Center at the University of Minnesota, which is focused on modeling the mechanics of cancer cell migration in biologically relevant contexts

Dr. David J. Odde, Department of Biomedical Engineering
U. of M. Lands Patent for Using Synthetic DNA to Target Heart Failure


10/31/17 - IEM Members & Colleagues Awarded $2.5 Million NIH R01 Grant for Nanowarming of Frozen Organs for Transplant

IEM Interim Director Dr. John C. Bischof, Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Erik Finger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, and their colleagues have been awarded a 4-year, $2.5 Million NIH R01 grant for research, entitled "Breakthrough Tissue and Organ Preservation and Transplantation using Scaled-Up Nanowarming Technology," to study nano warming in blood vessels and hearts. This multidisciplinary collaborative effort will build upon research in which Dr. Bischof and his colleagues succeeded in demonstrating a method to safely warm VITRIFIED tissue, a major initial step toward the preservation of large tissues and organs. Drs. Bischof and Finger are collaborating on this research with Dr. Yoed Rabin of the Biothermal Technology Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University. Other members of the research team include IEM Executive Committee Member Dr. Christy L. Haynes, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Chemistry; Dr. Alena Talkachova, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering; and Dr. Michael Garwood, Professor of Radiology-CMRR


10/31/17 - IEM Members Demonstrate Novel Approach to Identifying Dormant Cancer Cells and Keeping Them Quiescent

A research team consisting of three IEM Members has investigated and demonstrated a unique approach to identifying dormant cancer cells by encapsulating them in very stiff 3D gels so that they remain quiescent. The research was published in the journal Technology, and authored by IEM Member Dr. Alptekin Aksan, Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "We know that certain metastases are caused by dormant cells, which are currently impossible to target," says Dr. Aksan. "If we can isolate and study them, then we can develop ways to destroy them." Dr. Aksan says that his team's ultimate goal is to apply the technology in a clinical environment where it can be tested in patients. Also on the team were IEM Members Dr. Samira M. Azarin, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Dr. Emil Lou, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation.

Novel Platform for Investigating Quiescence in Dormancy Capable Cancer Cells


10/31/17 - IEM Members Part of CMRR Research Team Awarded Grant for Deep Brain Stimulation

IEM Members Dr. Walter C. Low, Professor of Neurosurgery, the Masonic Cancer Center, and the Stem Cell Institute, Dr. Matthew D. Johnson, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Gregory F. Molnar, Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology, are among members of a Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) team that was awarded an NIH Brain Initiative U01 Grant for the development of safe and efficient paradigms for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). The research, "New Technologies and Novel Approaches for Large-Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System (U01)," is being funded with a 3-year, $3.5 million grant and includes teams of researchers at Columbia University and the A.I. Virtanen Institute at the University of Eastern Finland, in addition to the University of Minnesota. "Our work has the potential to revolutionize neuromodulation strategies by increasing the precision with which the technology can target specific pathways in the brain," says Principal Investigator Dr. Shalom Michaeli, Associate Professor of Radiology-CMRR. Other University of Minnesota team members are Dr. Silvia Mangia, Associate Professor of Radiology-CMRR; Dr. Melissa Terpstra, Associate Professor of Radiology-CMRR; Lauri J. Lehto, a Research Associate in Radiology-CMRR; and Dr. Djudat S. Idiyatullin, Assistant Professor of Radiology-CMRR. Team members at the University of Eastern Finland include Dr. Olli Grohn and Dr. Heikki Tanila, and members from Columbia University include Dr. Ken Shepard and Adrian Bradd.

UMN Medical School's Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) Receives NIH U01 Grant


10/31/17 - Drug, with Key Ingredient Developed by Joseph Metzger, is being used to Treat Boys with Muscular Dystrophy

The active ingredient of a drug being used to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a form of the disease that is found only in boys and young men, was developed by IEM Member Dr. Joseph M. Metzger, Professor, Department Head and Chair, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology (IBP). Dr. Metzger describes the ingredient, P-188 NF, as a "molecular Band-Aid," that locates, then attaches to microscopic tears /instabilities in muscle. The drug, Carmeseal-MD, manufactured by Phrixus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is being tested in two patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy outside of the U.S., and a trial is planned at Cincinnati Children's hospital in early 2018. Carmeseal-MD has already been prescribed outside of the U.S. to young male patients suffering from both cardiac and respiratory disease. As reported in a press release, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, for which no treatment has been fully approved, affects approximately 15,000 to 20,000 young males, annually, in the United States and Europe.

U. of M. Startup Marks Milestone in Drug Therapy for Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy


09/30/17 - Team Led by Jürgen Konczak Receives NSF I-Corps Award for Physical Rehabilitation Robotics System

A team led by IEM Member Jürgen Konczak, Professor and Director of the School of Kinesiology, has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps to determine the commercial potential of a robotic system for neurological rehabilitation that has been tested on more than 300 human users between the ages of 18 and 82. Dr. Konczak is the Principal Investigator on the grant and has collaborated with partners in Italy and Singapore to develop the technology. It would be an advance compared to currently available rehabilitation robots, which restrict patients to a single plane of motion and are used primarily to recover a patient's motor function following stroke. This new technology instead allows patients to have unrestricted 3 dimensional movement, incorporates the somatosensory system, along with motor training methods, and can be used to rehabilitate a broader range of patients, beyond those recovering from stroke, including those with Parkinson's disease, dystonia, and traumatic brain injuries.

Konczak Lab Receives NSF I-Corps Award


09/30/20 - John Bischof Named IEM Interim Director

Dr. John C. Bischof, Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, has been named Interim Director of IEM. Dr. Bischof previously served as IEM Associate Director for Development, and has served as Chair of the IEM Annual Conference & Retreat and Director of the IEM Cancer Animal Core. A joint announcement by Dr. Brooks Jackson, Dean of the Medical School, and Dr. Samuel B. Mukasa, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, states that Dr. Bischof "is a renowned researcher in thermal bioengineering having contributed to applications in therapeutics, regenerative medicine, and diagnostics. More recently, Bischof received international attention for his research in the area of nanomedicine focusing on biodistribution and heating properties of gold and iron oxide nanoparticles for cryopreservation of zebrafish embryos and tissues for transplantation." Dr. Bischof is taking over IEM's leadership from Dr. Bin He, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, who is leaving the University to become the head of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. During Dr. He's 5 years of leadership, IEM membership increased by more than 60% and the overall per-member funding of investigators supported by IEM increased by 83%, as IEM Seed Grants helped to stimulate new research that has led to large federal grants. Also under Dr. He's leadership, IEM established and developed its Industrial Fellows and Clinical Immersion Programs to forge stronger ties and spur greater collaboration between industry and the University of Minnesota.


09/30/17 - Michael Kyba Leads Research Team Achieving Breakthrough in Effort to Develop Treatment for Muscular Dystrophy

IEM Member Michael Kyba, Professor of Pediatrics, is the Principal Investigator of a team of researchers that has made a breakthrough in the path toward a treatment for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), a form of the debilitating disease that affects approximately 38,000 people, nationally, and for which there is no approved treatment. As reported by the journal Nature Communications, which has published the research, Dr. Kyba's team successfully developed a mouse model in which FSHD was re-produced, a key step toward the testing of therapies that can treat it. "In genetic diseases for which therapies have been developed, like Duchenne muscular dystrophy, mouse models like the one we discovered were essential to the development and testing of potential therapies," says Dr. Kyba, "now that this hurdle has been overcome for FSHD, we have great hope for therapy development." University of Minnesota Researchers Replicate FSH Muscular Dystrophy in Mice


09/30/17 - Rita Perlingeiro Awarded Grant to Investigate Gene Editing Therapy to Treat Muscular Dystrophy

IEM Member Dr. Rita Perlingeiro, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology, has been awarded a research grant by the C3 Foundation for "Gene editing of Calpain 3 in LGMD2A iPS cells," which aims to treat LGMD2A, a form of Muscular Dystrophy that receives less research funding than more prevalent and severe forms of the disease. "We are thrilled to receive the support from the C3 foundation on this important project. Gene editing technologies combined with the derivation of skeletal muscle progenitors from patient-specific pluripotent stem cells hold great therapeutic potential, and we hope to make an impact in the lives of LGMD2A patients," says Dr. Perlingeiro. The C3 Foundation is focused upon LGMD2A because it lacks a cure or treatment, is not well-understood, has little awareness among the general public and has lacked a workshop specifically for researchers of the disease.


09/30/17 - Emil Lou Discusses the "Internet of Cells" in the Journal Nature

IEM Member Dr. Rita Perlingeiro, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology, has been awarded a research grant by the C3 Foundation for "Gene editing of Calpain 3 in LGMD2A iPS cells," which aims to treat LGMD2A, a form of Muscular Dystrophy that receives less research funding than more prevalent and severe forms of the disease. "We are thrilled to receive the support from the C3 foundation on this important project. Gene editing technologies combined with the derivation of skeletal muscle progenitors from patient-specific pluripotent stem cells hold great therapeutic potential, and we hope to make an impact in the lives of LGMD2A patients," says Dr. Perlingeiro. The C3 Foundation is focused upon LGMD2A because it lacks a cure or treatment, is not well-understood, has little awareness among the general public and has lacked a workshop specifically for researchers of the disease.

How the Internet of Cells has Biologists Buzzing


09/30/17 - Walter Low Discusses with KARE 11 Using the Zika Virus to Attack Brain Tumors

IEM Member Dr. Walter C. Low, Professor of Neurosurgery, the Masonic Cancer Center, and the Stem Cell Institute, discussed his research on the use of the Zika virus to treat brain tumor stem cellswith KARE 11. The concept evolved from news coverage of the 2015 outbreak of the Zika virus, which attacks neural stem cells. These cells share the same receptors with brain tumor stem cells, a discovery made by Dr. Low and his team. As a result, Dr. Low theorized that the virus could be used to attack brain tumors. His team achieved this by incubating the brain tumor cells with the virus, which then infected those cells. The approach is promising enough that testing it in humans may not be very far into the future. "I would say within two years -if everything goes well, hopefully we'd be able to apply to the FDA for clinical trial and test this out on patients," says Dr. Low.

Tackle Cancer's Research Making a Big Difference


09/30/17 - Joseph Metzger Among Chief Inventors Issued Patent for Novel DNA-Based Treatment for Heart Failure

IEM Member Dr. Joseph M. Metzger, Professor, Department Head and Chair, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology (IBP), is one of the chief inventors at the University of Minnesota of a patent issued for a novel therapy that uses synthetic DNA to treat chronic heart failure, a condition that, in developed nations, is among the leading causes of sudden death. Dr. Bowser developed the treatment with the other chief inventors, Dr. Michael Bowser, Professor of Chemistry, and Dr. Gianluigi Veglia, a professor at the College of Biological Sciences, and research associates, Meng Jing, Raffaelo Verardi and Brian Thompson. If the treatment succeeds in clinical trials and is ultimately commercialized, it would treat the subcellular contributors to the condition, going beyond current therapies, which only mitigate its symptoms. It would also be among the early applications of synthetic DNA in medicine.


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