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WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center

Here’s a quick look at the major inter-disciplinary research groups that will share space in the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center. The researchers come from the departments of Biology and Biotechnology (BBT), Biomedical Engineering (BME), Chemistry and Biochemistry (CBC), and Chemical Engineering (CHE), as well as from the Bioengineering Institute (BEI).

Tissue Regeneration and Stem Cell Biology
Who David Adams and Eric Overström (BBT); George Pins (BME); affiliated faculty from University of Massachusetts Medical School.

What Developing bioengineered scaffolds on which soft tissue can be grown, laying the groundwork for growing tissue from a patient’s own stem cells; developing improved methods to isolate and grow stem cells; genetically engineering new drugs for stroke.

Why Engineered cells/tissue can repair or replace damaged skin and other tissue more successfully and naturally than grafts.

Tissue Mechanics and Mechanobiology
Who David Adams (BBT); Kristen Billiar and George Pins (BME); affiliated faculty from Mathematical Sciences and UMass Medical School

What The group studies how mechanical forces—stretching, for example—affect, or can be necessary for, proper growth and healing of connective tissue.

Why Artificial heart valves wear out; replacement valves from pigs can be rejected. A properly designed—and mechanically stimulated—artificial valve may last for life.

Plant Systems
Who Alex DiIorio (BBT, Bioprocess Lab, and BEI); Pamela Weathers (BBT); Jose Argüello and Kristin Wobbe (CBC)

What Studying mechanisms plant cells use to transport metal ions across their membranes; uncovering techniques plants employ to defend themselves against pathogens; developing techniques for enhancing the production and recovery of valuable chemicals made by plants.

Why Understanding plant resistance mechanisms could reduce the need for pesticides; enhancing production of artemisinin, a potent anti-malarial agent produced by the wormwood plant, could help combat this global scourge.

Molecular Nanotechnology and Molecular Sensors
Who Christopher Lambert (BEI); Grant McGimpsey (BEI and CBC); Terri Camesano and Susan Zhou (CHE); James Dittami, John MacDonald, Venkat Thalladi (CBC)

What Creating devices with surfaces that have precisely engineered physical and chemical properties for sensing and other applications; studying bacteria at the molecular level to learn how to prevent harmful biofilms from forming on medical devices.

Why Tiny devices with engineered channels and pores may become implantable labs that can monitor blood chemistry and transmit the results as needed.

Applied Molecular Genetics
Who Lauren Matthews, Sam Politz, Reeta Prusty, Elizabeth Ryder (BBT)

What Studying the genetic mechanisms a tiny nematode uses to evade its host’s immune system; uncovering chemical signals that switch fungi from benign to pathogenic mode; understanding the molecular basis for ecological adaptation by shrimp and other crustacea.

Why Fungal infections are notoriously difficult to treat; new drugs that exploit these chemical signals may work far better than current medicines.

Advanced Technologies in Biological Imaging and Sensing
Who Yitzhak Mendelson, Christopher Sotak (BME); affiliated faculty in the BEI Center for Untethered Healthcare (BEI-CUTH); James Duckworth, Reinhold Ludwig, William Michalson, and Peder Pederson (Electrical and Computer Engineering); and John Sullivan (ME) work on this research, but will not relocate to the new center.

What Through BEI-CUTH, developing noninvasive optical sensors that can monitor vital signs and transmit them wirelessly; in the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) lab, developing advanced techniques for detecting stroke and seeing how it responds to therapies; in the ultrasound lab, developing portable 3-D ultrasound for diagnosing injury.

Why Wireless physiological sensors may enable doctors to monitor patients at a distance, improving the quality and lowering the cost of health care.

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Last modified: Apr 17, 2006, 14:03 EDT
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