Heart-Tissue Patch Supported by $8 Million Grant
Biomedical Engineering Chair Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., is part of a team that recently received a seven-year, $8 million grant just awarded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to develop a bioengineered, human heart-tissue patch that will help patients recover from heart attacks.
The heart cannot regenerate muscle tissue after a heart attack has killed part of the muscle wall, and that dead tissue can strain surrounding muscle, leading to a lethal heart enlargement. To prevent this heart failure and restore heart function, UAB researchers led by Zhang, as well as personnel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Duke University, will work to create a patch that is large, standardized and highly functional.
The heart cannot regenerate muscle tissue after a heart attack has killed part of the muscle wall, and that dead tissue can strain surrounding muscle, leading to a lethal heart enlargement.
To prevent this heart failure and restore heart function, UAB researchers led by Zhang, as well as personnel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Duke University, will work to create a patch that is large, standardized and highly functional.
The research hub is led Zhang, Timothy Kamp, M.D., of Wisconsin and Nenad Bursac, Ph.D., of Duke. Their teams in this cooperative effort will work with individual cells and bioengineered patches made up of many cells. They will test the bioengineered cells in mice and the bioengineered patches in pigs.
The goal is to bring cardiac tissue engineering therapies into the clinic for human use by the end of the grant. Ischemic heart disease from restricted blood flow and oxygen starvation is a leading cause of death in the United States. One in every seven deaths in the United States results from coronary artery disease.
“At the end of seven years, we will be ready for clinical trials,” Zhang said.
EITD Team to Develop Rapid-Freeze Technology for NASA
A group of UAB engineers has gained wide recognition in recent years for its work on building freezers that can maintain extreme cold temperatures in space. Now that same group has refined its focus to tackle a new challenge— designing a rapid-freeze unit that could potentially influence the types of science performed in space.
The Engineering and Innovative Technology Development (EITD) team in the School of Engineering recently received a pair of new contracts from NASA worth a combined $3.6 million to develop rapid-freeze technology and hardware for use on missions to the International Space Station (ISS).
The contract seems like a natural fit for EITD, which has worked with NASA for more than 10 years developing the high-tech cold-stowage units MERLIN, GLACIER, and Polar—all of which are currently in use aboard the ISS. However, EITD director Lee Moradi, Ph.D., says the ability to rapidly freeze biological samples requires a fundamentally different approach, and UAB was one of several “high-profile” research entities that submitted proposals.
SAFER Barriers Go International
Mechancial Engineering Professor Dean Sicking is the inventor of the SAFER Barrier, a product proven to save lives on American racetracks that is now being used for the first time on the historic circuit at Le Mans, France.For more than a decade, the SAFER Barrier has proved its life-saving ability at NASCAR and IndyCar circuits across the United States. This year, the device is going international.
The SAFER Barrier is making its European debut at the historic circuit in Le Mans, France, site of the world’s oldest active endurance racing event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The SAFER Barrier, which stands for Steel and Foam Energy Reduction, is the invention of Dean Sicking, Ph.D., a mechanical engineering professor and researcher at the UAB School of Engineering.
Sicking says the installation of his product at Le Mans is significant in that it marks the first time a racing facility has performed an independent evaluation of two competing barrier systems. Earlier renovations to the Le Mans circuit in 2014 installed TechPro barriers, a fundamentally different type of barrier system.
“We are very pleased that Le Mans is installing the SAFER Barrier, because we believe it validates what we already know; that our barrier is the best option to improve driver safety,” said Sicking.
Introducing the Imogene Baswell Society
In 1967, Imogene Baswell became the first woman to graduate from what would soon become the UAB School of Engineering. Since then, hundreds of female engineers have followed in her footsteps, and from those ranks, dozens of the school’s most accomplished alumni have emerged.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of Baswell’s groundbreaking step, the School of Engineering plans to officially launch the Imogene Baswell Society in 2017. This giving society is being formed to honor the legacy of a pioneering graduate and to support the future of female engineering students at UAB.
Members are asked to make a $1,000 commitment to the Imogene Baswell Endowed Scholarship. Each gift will be invested in the University of Alabama’s Pooled Endowment Fund. Once fully endowed, the fund will generate earnings of 5 percent each year to be awarded to a deserving student, providing critical financial support to defray tuition expense and reduce post-college debt.
UAB has a proud history of introducing exceptional female leaders to the field of engineering, yet women are still a distinct minority at all levels of the profession.
In a typical year, female students make up less than 25 percent of the School of Engineering’s undergraduate student body.
From those small numbers, however, have come huge contributions. In all disciplines, whether in industry, research, or academic administration, UAB alumni have proven that female engineers are more than capable of leading and shaping their profession.
Your membership in the Imogene Baswell Society can help celebrate the legacy of a pioneer while supporting the future of women in engineering.