RESEARCH SEED FUNDING AWARDS

Awards for new research projects have been announced by the New Hampshire Center for Multiscale Modeling and Manufacturing of Biomaterials (NH BioMade). Led by the University of New Hampshire, NH BioMade is supported by the National Science Foundation to advance the design and manufacture of biomaterials used in medical applications such as orthopedic implants, trauma fixation hardware, scaffolding for tissue engineering, and biomedical sensors, and to address industry and clinical needs.

The NH BioMade Research Seed Funding Opportunity provides up to $50,000 for faculty and research associates at New Hampshire universities and colleges to conduct pilot projects. The following projects were initiated in 2020 after a competitive review process. A Request for Proposals (RFP) for new projects will be issued in November for awards in 2022. To sign up for notice of the RFP, email nh.epscor@unh.edu.

2021 NH BioMade Research Seed Funding Awards:

  • “Cyclodextrin Mediated Surfaces to Electrochemically Evaluate Cortisol in Urine” is led by Jeffrey Halpern, associate professor of chemical engineering at UNH, in collaboration with Rick Roy, founder and CEO of Stryx Biotech, of Nashua, NH. Recent advances in sepsis diagnosis includes point-of-need sensors for biomarkers of sepsis including cytokines. Recent reviews indicate that blood concentrations of common sepsis biomarkers, including procalcitonin and cytokines, are often misunderstood, and greater study of real-time kinetics associated with these biomarkers are needed for greater prognostic information. Patents to diagnose sepsis typically detail various detection methods which require off-line, laboratory-based traditional diagnostic methods which can delay onset of treatment. Stryx Biotech’s approach is to develop a new biomedical device to continuously sample blood via intravenous line or urine via catheter for patients in the hospital to monitor sepsis. The Halpern group is discussing collaborative opportunities with Stryx Biotech to create sensors to monitor the C64 protein for early onset diagnosis and prognosis of sepsis. To expand our growing collaboration, we propose to measure cortisol in urine as a treatment-success biomarker for sepsis.
  • “Fully Integrated Wearable Electrochemical Sensor Array for Rapid Detection of Opioid in Human Sweat” is led by MD Shaad Mahmud, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UNH, in collaboration with Edward Song, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UNH, and Jeffrey Bomowski, chief executive officer of Clairways of Lebanon, NH.  The proposed research features several innovations that will advance fundamental understanding of fentanyl sweat dynamics and provide new capacities in sensing and modeling to enable better management of medical resources and clinical practices. Visualizing the rapid and real-time opioid detection using cutting-edge in-situ monitoring technology will enable swift and precise clinical practices to achieve efficiency and resilience. Knowledge gained through the proposed study conducted on the different fentanyl concentrations will guide the development of sensors for other types of drugs (e.g. cocaine, tramadol etc.) with broad applications in addressing emerging drug abuse challenges.
  • Bioinspired Design of Metal-Organic Framework for the Development of Magnetoelectronic Chemical Sensors” is led by Robert Stolz, post-doctoral associate at Dartmouth College, who took over the project from colleague Zheng Meng. Selective and sensitive detection of gases is crucial to the monitoring of environmental pollutants, protecting public safety, managing human health, and improving fundamental understanding of human physiology. Gaseous small molecules are produced within living systems to regulate cardiovascular, nervous, and immune functions. Several analytical methods have been developed; however, they all suffer tradeoffs and limitations, for example, the requirement of expensive instrumentation or complicated procedures in marking selective electrodes. An emerging class of conductive multifunctional nanomaterials based on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) holds remarkable potential in electrically transduced chemical sensing.
  • “Development of Synthetic Bio-Inks to Print Brain or Cancer Tissue Organoids” is led by Won Hyuk Suh, assistant professor of biotechnology at UNH Manchester. Neuronal cell damage and death are commonly associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries. The derivation of functional neurons, for that reason, will allow us to remedy such detrimental situations by utilizing them in cellular-based approaches that can lead to clinical translation. The proposed hydrogel- and peptide-based bio-ink technologies will converge to complement such in vitro cellular model developments and toxicology applications that can be further developed into nerve tissue organoids. The new biomechanics and biochemical-controlled enabling technologies are designed and implemented to effectively grow sensitive cells and expand them for potential clinical translation that involve toxicology screening of drugs or cell-based therapies.
  • “Molecular understanding of microstructure evolution during shear-induced polymer crystallization” is led by Wenlin Zhang, assistant professor of chemistry at Dartmouth. The outcome of this project will directly impact the design and optimization of functional, commercial, and recycled semicrystalline polymers, most of which are processed under flow conditions. By understanding the effects of flow on the formation of crystalline lamellae and tie-molecules, which governs the mechanical, optical, and conductive properties of polymers, this work will impact commercial packaging, organic flexible electronics, and biomedical devices.
  • “Wear and Fatigue in Joint Replacement Implants” is led by Yan Li, assistant professor of engineering at Dartmouth. Wear and fatigue combine to influence the dynamic damage evolution that ultimately determines the lifespan of joint implants. To test this hypothesis, a multiscale framework that predicts wear depth, contact pressure and fatigue life of knee prosthesis by capturing nano-, micro- and macro- scale deformation and damage mechanisms will be developed.
  • “Integrating cranial morphology into feeding behavior” is led by William Ryerson, associate professor of biology at Saint Anselm College. Support is provided for 100 hours of access to the Micro CT at UNH and 25 hours of assistance. The long-term goal is to scan the heads of 20 snakes and 5 lizards, which are preserved in the research collection at Saint Anselm College and were previously part of behavior trials on feeding behavior. These scans can add more in-depth morphological analyses and modelling to the behavioral data already collected. The result of the scanning will be examining the role bone movement and tooth shape on the feeding behavior and evolution of these groups. The assemblage and segmentation of the scans will be part of a broader program to teach undergraduate students at Saint Anselm College how to work with and process CT scans.

2020 NH BioMade Research Seed Funding Awards:

  • Bio-compatible and/or Absorbable Surgical Mesh Implants for Hernia Repair” is led by Nikhil Padhye, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, UNH, in collaboration with Velcro USA, a privately held company specializing in fasteners with manufacturing facilities in Manchester and Somersworth.  Hernia is a type of injury in which an organ bulges through a tear in a person's abdominal muscles. Hernia surgeries require closing of the abdominal opening by using a hernia mesh-implant. Currently, sutures, tacks, or bio-glues are used for holding the hernia mesh in place. Hernia mesh-implants can detach from the muscle tissue due to the failure of the sutures, or the mesh-implant itself; thereby causing serious internal injuries. This project will develop a new bonding mechanism between the mesh-implant and the muscle tissue to achieve a strong and robust adherence. 
  • “3D-Printable Polyrotaxane-based Tissue Engineering with Controlled Degradability” is led by Wenxing Liu, post-doctoral fellow, Dartmouth College Department of Chemistry, in collaboration with Qrons, Inc., a New York-based biotechnology company specializing in development of solutions for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries. The development of bio-compatible materials as tissue engineering implants is important for the advancement of regenerative medicine. This work will develop and test bio-inks for traumatic brain injury treatment.
  • In situ hybrid electrode assembly for brain machine interface” is led by Young Jo Kim, assistant professor of chemical engineering, UNH. Brain-machine interfaces are an important emerging tool that could revolutionize neuroscience, therapeutic approaches, and rehabilitation technologies. Brain-machine interfaces enable communication between the human nervous system and computing systems, serving as tools to accelerate progress in neuroscience and to repair, replace, or augment neuromuscular function. This project will investigate the use of a naturally occurring biopolymer as the ideal charge-conducting material for brain-machine interfaces.
  • “Design of Microporous Metal Oxide Transistors for Field-Enhanced Biochemical Sensing of the Immune Response” is led by William Scheideler, assistant professor of engineering, Dartmouth College, in collaboration with Boston Micro Fabrication, a leader in industrial, micro-precision 3D printing. Biosensors are key technologies for understanding the use of implanted devices in the human body and offer the potential to inform surgical procedures as well as deliver long-term information about wear, reliability, and physiological response. Porous structures are important tools for 3D integration of biomaterials with living tissues. This project will develop porous sensors for monitoring the inflammatory response to implanted biomaterials with the goal of furthering understanding of the human immune response.
  • “Establishing Bio-Ink Design Parameters for Extrusion-Based-Bio-Printing Processes” is led by Md. Ahasan Habib, assistant professor of Sustainable Product Design and Architecture, Keene State College. Bio-printing is an emerging technology using a computer-controlled layer-by-layer deposition of biomaterials along with high precision positioning of cells to reproduce a 3D functional living tissue. The bio-printing process can manufacture highly intricate and porous 3D constructs that serve as a temporary structural support (known as a scaffold) for growing the isolated cells, providing nutrients to new tissues, facilitating the healing process, restoring the tissue function, and minimizing the wound scar. This project will advance the development of materials that are compatible with the human body to support tissue regrowth in large scale.
  • “Bio-Inspired Design and Manufacturing of Polymer-Derived Ceramics in Health Applications” is led by Yan Li, assistant professor of engineering, Dartmouth College. Polymer-derived ceramics (PDCs) have potential to replace metallic materials in many biomedical applications due to their outstanding properties such as compatibility with human tissue, thermal stability, high resistance to corrosion and thermal shock, and good electrical conductivity. Conditions in the human body can cause corrosion and degradation of metallic medical implants such as pacemakers. However, the use of PDCs in health applications has been limited primarily due to their relative low fracture toughness and reliability. This project will develop a framework to identify the material performance and failure issues of PDCs and predict fracture toughness and durability.