Notable Grants Contribute to Record Funding Year
WPI received $16.65 million in external sponsored program awards during the 2005–06 academic year, a 45 percent increase over 2004–05. It was the largest one-year total for grant and contract awards at the university. In all, 121 individual awards were received from a broad range of federal and state funding agencies, as well as research foundations and corporations. Here is a small sample of some of the more notable awards.
A five-year, $1.8 million award from the National Science Foundation, awarded jointly by the agency’s Division of Mathematical Sciences, the Directorate of Biological Sciences, and the National Institute of General Medical Science, is enabling a research team led by Dalin Tang, professor of mathematical sciences and bio-medical engineering, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the physical and biological conditions inside arteries that promote the initial formation of a plaque, and then favor its continued growth, as well as the factors that cause plaques to rupture, leading directly to heart attacks and stroke.
Regenerating Human Limbs
The salamander is the only vertebrate that can regrow functional limbs as an adult. It does so by creating a ball of undifferentiated cells, called a blastema, that can develop into muscle, bone, and other tissue. If humans could gain this ability, it would revolutionize the treatment of traumatic injuries. That is the aim of a multi-institution research project funded by a one-year, $3.9 million award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. CellThera Inc., a Worcester-based biotech-nology start-up firm, was one of the institutions funded by the award. In June 2006, WPI and CellThera signed an agreement to jointly pursue research aimed at devel-oping techniques for restoring tissue—including digits and limbs—damaged or lost due to traumatic injury. As part of the agreement, two principals in CellThera, Tanja Dominko, president and chief scientific officer, and Raymond Page, research director, now hold research faculty appointments at WPI. Read more about their research.
Indoor Personnel Location
An award of just under $2 million from the U.S. Department of Justice enabled work to continue on the development of novel technology that will be able to locate and track first responders inside buildings. Learn more about this system.
Above, from left, the wearable ultrasound team: ECE associate professor James Duckworth, Philip Cordeiro ’97 (MS ’06), and ECE Professor Peder Pedersen.
Real-Time Troop Monitoring
The U.S. military wants to increase the odds of survival for wounded soldiers on the battlefield. For the past three years, it has been funding a major effort within the Center for Untethered Healthcare, part of the WPI Bioengineering Institute, to develop advanced technology that can monitor vital signs remotely, give medics the ability to do ultrasound scans in the field, provide the ability to analyze blood with hand-held scanners, and establish ad hoc wireless networks. A $3.2 million award from the U.S. Army Research Office in 2005–06 funded continuing work on this project, which involves researchers in the Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Electrical and Computer Engineering departments.