The first four students recently began their study and research in a new NIH-funded graduate training program created to train a highly skilled workforce able to apply nanoscale materials to biosensors for early diagnosis, biomedical implants and regenerative medicine.

This is the first predoctoral training program in Alabama to be funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and it is led by Physics professor Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., director of the UAB Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration.

“The program’s goal is to reduce the time from discovery of a new nanotechnology tool or material to its application in medical devices, tissue engineering and biosensors,” Vohra said. “Students are expected to take interdisciplinary courses in this program in order to take nanotechnology from design to clinical application.”

Some of the projects students are working on with faculty include:
• Using polymers containing nanofibers to enhance vascular grafts
• Using nanoparticles to deliver a drug to a tumor site inside a body
• Applying coatings of nanomaterials to implants to reduce the wear of the surface, the reason most implants fail

Nanoscale materials are assembled at the scale of one billionth of a meter and they exhibit fundamentally different physical, chemical and biological properties. The enhanced properties of materials due to nanostructuring will play a key role in future advances in materials research, scaffolds for tissue engineering, novel materials and coatings for biointegration, nanoparticles for biomedical imaging and biomarkers of diseases.

The interdisciplinary program, Nanotechnology in Biosensors and Bioengineering, is funded by a five-year $645,830 institutional training grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health- National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.