Two teams representing Tulane University and featuring BME students are among 13 winners of the Neuro Startup Challenge, an open innovation competition designed to bring promising medical inventions to market. Organized by the Heritage Provider Network in collaboration with the National Institute of Health and the Center for Advancing Innovation, the winning teams were selected based on their business plans, financial models, and live pitches and will receive $2500 to move forward into phase three of the challenge to launch new businesses to commercialize the NIH-conceived and developed inventions.
Each year Newcomb-Tulane College elects fifteen graduating seniors to the William Wallace Peery Society, an elite group that honors the students who have truly risen above their peers in scholarly accomplishments. The Peery Society recognizes academic excellence based on a combination of GPA and evidence of outstanding scholarship through an honors thesis or equivalent accomplishment. This year Chris Sloas, a biomedical engineering student, was one of the inductees in recognition of his outstanding efforts in and out of the classroom. From his research projects in the Microvascular Dynamics Laboratory and his team design project to his contributions as a teaching assistantship and overall drive to go above and beyond, Chris is truly exceptional.
Exemplifying the Department’s ongoing innovations in Design, the Class of 2015, under the guidance of Professor Lars Gilbertson, held their capstone BME Team Design show on April 18th.
Biomedical engineering professors Donald P. Gaver, Ron C. Anderson, and J. Quincy Brown were awarded a Louisiana Board of Reagents grant to support “Advanced Visualization and Simulation in Biomedical Engineering.” The goals of the project are to 1) develop a Photonics Teaching Laboratory and 2) create an Advanced Simulation Laboratory. The photonics teaching lab will couple hands-on practical instruction in optical systems and photonics with advanced computational tools for optical design and image visualization.
The advanced simulation lab and associated curriculum will be capable of simulating, acquiring, processing, and analyzing large and/or complex data sets or models using a variety of software implementations. Both labs will fill an emerging need in the department, as a number of BME classes and more broadly in the School of Science and Engineering could be benefit from the ability to provide a significant hands-on lab experience in photonics technologies. The new resources will expose students to a rapidly burgeoning field that has numerous developments at the national and international level.
Mohammed S. Azimi and Richard Sweat will each receive a 2015 Zweifach Student Award to attend the annual meeting of the Microcirculatory Society at Experimental Biology 2015 in Boston. Azimi and Sweat are biomedical engineering graduate students in the Macrovascular Dynamics Laboratory, led by BMEN professor Dr. W. Lee Murfee. This prestigious travel award is named after Dr. Benjamin W. Zweifach, who was a pioneer in microcirculation and bioengineering, and is given each year to exceptional scientists-in-training.
Both Azimi and Sweat were recognized based on their abstracts that they plan to present at the meeting. Azimi is interested in microvascular dynamics, vascular tissue engineering, and drug delivery systems - specifically, he uses rat mesentery culture models to track human adipose-derived stem cells and study their migration and differentiation dynamics in the presence of microvascular networks. Sweat studies the multicellular and multi-system dynamics of microvascular remodeling in health and disease and uses a novel ex vivo model of intact microvascular network growth to investigate the inter-relationships between lymphangiogenesis, angiogenesis, and plasticity.
Congratulations to them both!
The Tulane student branch of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) ran a workshop on how to use embedded controllers in the arts. A diverse collection of 15 students crowded into the Department’s teaching lab to learn, one-on-one, how to build and program simple sound generators, light flashers, and servo-motor actuators.
Eight experienced undergraduates from biomedical engineering and computer science provided the instruction, and Radhika Josi ’15 created a syllabus for first-time users of the popular Arduino single-board computer. Funds from the local Section of IEEE allowed the first 10 learners to keep their Arduino boards for later experimentation.
Clayton Ford ‘15, the President of the IEEE Student Branch, was elated. “We had students from Art, Architecture, Chemistry and Computer Science. Most had never interacted with an Engineering student, yet we ended up learning from each other. When our officers dreamed up this workshop a month ago, I had no idea it would be so successful.”
AxoSim Technologies, founded by Tulane biomedical engineering researchers Dr. Lowry Curley and Dr. Michael J. Moore, is one of five companies selected for the 2015 Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) Challenge, a pitch competition for exceptionally promising entrepreneurs living and working in Jefferson Parish. The JEDCO Challenge takes place during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, the annual business festival celebrating entrepreneurship, innovation, and advanced thinking, where AxoSim Technologies is a 2015 Big Idea nominee. They will showcase their advanced “nerve-on-a-chip” technology and its ability to determine the level of neurological safety and effectiveness of a new drug early in its development. The winning pitch receives $20,000 in cash and additional in-kind business services to help grow their company locally.
Dr. Michael Hass returned this week to share his successes with a group of undergraduate students. Dr. Haas graduated the biomedical engineering department in 1979 and went to LSU Medical School prior to a career in Family Medicine. He is the inventor of Cryopen, a medical device that uses state-of-the-art cooling technology for treatment of skin lesions. The device offers lower cost and higher patient volume for cryosurgical procedures. Recently, Dr. Haas has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to deploy these devices in Africa for the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions of the cervix. Dr. Hass was invited back by the Tulane chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and during his visit, students learned about his career path and the technology he has developed.
As part of their senior design experience requirement, biomedical engineering seniors together with Dr. Anne-Marie Job, director of the Bioinnovation PhD Program, and Dr. Lars Gilbertson, a Professor of Practice in Biomedical Engineering and SISE NewDay Professor and Carnegie Fellow, have teamed up with Team Gleason to help design innovative technologies to improve the lives of patients with ALS. A recently awarded grant from Venturewell will enrich this experience by enabling student team leaders to spend time during an intense summer immersion internship with patients and caregivers at the Team Gleason House for Innovative Living.
Four Tulane teams with three current or former biomedical engineering students are competing in the Neuro Startup Challenge. The challenge is sponsored and funded by the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) in partnership with the National Institute of Health (NIH). All four teams have advanced past the elevator pitch phase of the competition. In the second phase they will create and present a business plan. Winners will receive funding from the CAI and licensing opportunities from the NIH that will enable the set up of their start-up company.
Through a recently awarded National Science Foundation grant, Drs. Lars Gilbertson and Anne-Marie Job will receive funding to develop a NSF Innovation Corps Site at Tulane University. This is a great achievement by Gilbertson, a Professor of Practice in Biomedical Engineering and SISE NewDay Professor and Carnegie Fellow, and Job, the Program Director of Tulane’s Interdisciplinary PhD program in Bioinnovation. The three-year project “Tulane I-Corps Site for a Resurgent New Orleans” will fund fifteen I-Corps teams per year, and emphasize moving funded research out of the laboratories and into the marketplace. This project will support commercialization of promising ideas emerging from the classroom and will engage a large pool of entrepreneurs. The Tulane I-Corps Site will also work hand-in-hand with the Tulane Office of Technology Transfer & Intellectual Property Development to advance Tulane-generated innovative ideas and technologies towards their marketable goals. Tulane’s I-Corps Site will be the only one in the Gulf South region and advances Tulane’s position in design-thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship.
The 13th Annual Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research and Design Conference was held on Friday, 22 January 2015 in the Lavin Bernick Center. This conference highlighted the efforts and results of our biomedical engineering seniors. All of the students completed a required year-long independent research or design project working with departmental faculty mentors or our counterparts throughout Tulane and at affiliated institutions across the nation. These projects were not merely academic exercises; they were genuine and significant contributions to the field of biomedical engineering complete with scholarly theses and, in many instances, peer-reviewed publications. This conference represents a culminating event for our Biomedical Engineering undergraduates and serves to communicate the excitement and potential of Biomedical Engineering to the larger university and New Orleans community. With an excellent attendance, we enjoyed and supported the contributions of our excellent students!
Biomedical engineering undergraduate students, graduate students and recent alumni make up 4 out of the 6 teams participating in this year’s Novel Tech Challenge at Tulane. Dr. John Christie, the executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development at Tulane, and Dr. Nicholas Altiero, dean of the School of Science and Engineering, launched this challenge in the fall with hopes to inspire new innovations. The biomedical engineering teams are working with local and faculty mentors to develop new technologies that span from breathing tubes to make surgeries easier, microfluidic devices for diagnostic testing, improving patient care during hospitalization, and an eye tracking device for driving wheel chairs.
Six PhD students joined our department in August of 2014 — they are Liana Boraas (Harvey Mudd College), Nicholas Hodges (Mississippi State University), Bihe Hu (Huazhong University of Science and Technology), Michelle Janaszak (Boston University), Jayant Saksena (St. Stephen’s College), and Jeremy Whang (University of California, Berkeley). They have recently finished their first semester at Tulane, and we’re proud to have them on our team. When asked to describe his experience so far, Jayant Saksena comments that it “was a great learning experience. My classes were very interesting and I am really excited by the research in my lab. The BME department is a small close knit community, and everyone has been very supportive and helpful. I am looking forward to the next semester.” Jeremy Whang added that “the one aspect of Tulane BME that really stands out is the people. Everybody, the staff, faculty, and students, have been supportive throughout my 1st semester here. Even though some pundits believe that this amiability does not bode well in fields such as research, the whole department still has an inner competitiveness to do interesting research. I hope I can continue this trend at Tulane in the future!” We look forward to their future here as well — please join us in celebrating their arrival and achievements!
Opening in Fall 2015, Makerspace will be 4100 sq. ft. of design and construction space, offering direct vehicle access, adequate power, high ceilings, compressed air, and several modern prototyping tools like laser cutters, water jet cutters, and 3-D printers. Traditional hand tools and power tools will also be available. Drs. Cedric F. Walker, a biomedical engineering professor, and Tim Schuler, a senior professor of practice and lab supervisor, are heading the transformation of the 120-year-old mechanical services workshop, and the space will be open to all students at Tulane after they complete a training session. Students will be expected to provide their own supplies for projects, but Schuler and Walker are also creating a tool library, a system which will allow students to “check out” certain tools to work on their projects. With the new space enabling students to transform their ideas into real prototypes, Drs. Walker and Schuler aim to provide an everyday workshop focused on availability, education, and collaboration.
Co-founders of AxoSim Technologies, Drs. Michael J. Moore and J. Lowry Curley are earning praise and support, including funding from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program. Moore, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Curley, postdoctoral researcher in the biomedical engineering program, won the $25,000 top prize at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center’s BioChallenge competition. They were one of four finalists to present their project to investors and industry experts. With AxoSim Technologies, they aim to improve pharmaceutical drug development by providing a faster and more advanced alternative to animal testing. They developed what they call a “nerve on a chip,” a 3D model of nerve tissue about a millimeter in size. Moore and Curley said they want this “living nerve” to be the first line of defense in testing the safety and side effects of new medications, rather than expensive animal testing and prolonged drug development.
Donald P Gaver, PhD and six of his lab members attended BMES 2014 in San Antonio, TX. Dr. Gaver received two distinguishing honors: he was inducted as a fellow of BMES and elected Chair of the Biomedical Council of Chairs. His lab members Caroline Edwards, Chandler Fauldman, Liam Nolan, Jerina Pillert, Jason Ryans, and Eiichiro Yamaguchi each presented posters. Congratulations to the Gaver Lab for their success and presence at BMES 2014!
Kimberly Larkin (BSE 2012), Brooks Fowler (MS/BSE 2010), and Elliot Neal (MS/BSE 2013) graduated from the Biomedical Engineering program at Tulane University. They each got their first job at Brainlab, Inc as application consultants, where they work with hospital staff and surgeons covering surgeries, hosting trainings, and providing technical support, troubleshooting, and basic repairs. They returned to take part in our weekly seminar series, titled “BME Careers with Brainlab, Inc,” with a purpose to share their experiences from Brainlab and hopefully recruit talented, passionate hires with innovative contributions.
On Friday, September 26, two-dozen Biomedical Engineering seniors were led through an intense 50-minute design thinking exercise at the newly furnished creative space in Flower Hall. The students are part of Biomedical Engineering’s capstone Team Design course, instructed by Prof. Lars Gilbertson, a Professor of Practice in Biomedical Engineering and SISE NewDay Professor and Carnegie Fellow. Prof. Ann Joachim, visiting Professor of Practice for the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, created a customized design thinking exercise that focused on enhancing the team experience, pairing the students and having them interview each other on previous experiences working in teams. Says Prof. Joachim, «…’lack of communication’ emerged as a common theme for a previous, unsatisfying team experience.» Building on these interviews, the students generated solution concepts to meet their partner’s needs. A frenzied prototyping session followed, yielding physical models that the students used to communicate their solution concepts to each other. “Our students came up with some insightful ideas [on] how to improve the team experience,” said Gilbertson, “This is important to us because ability to communicate effectively and function on multi-disciplinary teams is essential to their success—not only in this year’s Team Design course but also their future professional practice.”
Dr. Damir Khismatullin, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Tulane University, was recently awarded a three year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a novel technique for testing the material properties of biological fluids. The majority of techniques currently available for rheological characterization of biological fluids permit contact of the sample with the walls of the measuring device which introduces significant errors in the determination of material property constants. Dr. Khismatullin and Ph.D. student Daishen Luo together with researchers at Boston University aim to use acoustic tweezing rheometry to obtain noncontact measurements by utilizing acoustic levitation technique, analytical and numerical methods.
Dr. Yu-Ping Wang, an associate professor in our department, recently received two grants from the National Institutes of Health to study disease related genetic alterations. Since his arrival in 2010, Dr. Wang has been at the forefront of applying engineering approaches to solve medical problems. His Multiscale Bioimaging and Bioinformatics Laboratory, located in Tulane’s School of Public Health, has been a catalyst for collaborations between computational scientists, statisticians, and medical geneticists. Dr. Wang’s funded research aims to identify genetic mutations and biomarkers in the targeted treatment of osteoporosis and the prediction of mental illness.
Dr. Kristin Miller joined our biomedical engineering department as an assistant professor in July 2014. Her research interests span from orthopedics to women’s reproductive health, and she is already nationally recognized as a leader in her field. Symbolic of her laboratory’s locations within both the School of Science and Engineering and the School of Medicine, Dr. Miller’s laboratory will combine computational and experimental approaches to better understand the importance of soft tissue mechanics in tissue engineering and regeneration. Before arriving at Tulane, Dr. Miller was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University. When she is not in the laboratory or the classroom, you can usually find playing water polo, swimming, or trying to find some waves to body surf.
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