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Yu Wins Nanobiotech Grant

Yu Wins Nanobiotech Grant

Associate Professor Bruce Yu.
Associate Professor Bruce Yu.

Fischell Department of Bioengineering associate professor Bruce Yu (joint, School of Pharmacy) has been awarded a 2009 Maryland Nanobiotechnology Research and Industry Competition Grant of $250,000 from the State of Maryland. His winning proposal, "Force-Sensitive Nano Networks (FSNN)", will be carried out in collaboration with Dr. Boualem Hammouda of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and the Maryland Biotechnology Center, Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced the award, one of 12 statewide, on June 4.

The research falls under one of Yu's major focus areas–the engineering of mechanosensors to aid the repair and rehabilitation of injured musculoskeletal tissues. Currently, mechanosensors made out of metals, ceramics and plastics are implanted in patients to provide doctors with information used to guide the treatment and repair of damaged ligaments, joints, and tendons. Yu and Hammouda are developing soft and wet force-sensitive nano-networks (FSNN) that are comprised entirely of biocompatible materials, including peptides, proteins and polymers. Mechanosensors made out of FSNN could be injected into the body rather than surgically implanted, and are naturally and safely biodegradable.

FSSN diagramThe concept of force-sensitive nano-network (FSNN). Inset: Nano-network formed by short peptide fibers. Diagram: In the absence of force, FSNN exists as a gel; when force is applied, the gel is turned into a liquid (sol). When shear-force exceeds 2%, gel to sol transition takes place. The gel–sol transition is reversible.

"I'm particularly excited about this project because of my collaboration with Dr. Hammouda," says Yu. "NIST has the best neutron scattering resources in the world and Dr. Hammouda is a world-renowned expert in neutron scattering research." Neutron scattering, Yu explains, will be crucial in helping them understand why FSNNs are sensitive to mechanical forces, which will in turn lead to improvements in their design.

In 2005, Yu earned a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his work with FSNN.

For More Information:

Visit Dr. Yu's homepage »
Read the DBED press release »

Related Story:

"Yu Joins Fischell Department Faculty" »

June 19, 2009

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