University-industry partnership drives UB health care innovation – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff

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Inside the lab at Garwood Medical Devices.

Jackson Hobble, a biomedical engineer at Garwood Medical Devices and a UB biomedical engineering graduate, works in the company’s lab. He is using an in vitro model to test the electrical stimulation technique that BioPrax™ employs to treat infections. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published December 2, 2020

headshot of Mark Ehrensberger.

Batman and Robin. Peanut butter and jelly. Jobs and Wozniak. Like for these famous duos, when universities and companies join forces, they can achieve far greater impact.

Such is the case for a team of UB researchers and Buffalo-based startup Garwood Medical Devices, who, in partnership, have been awarded $749,000 to evaluate a medical device that utilizes UB-licensed technology and bring it one step closer to clinical use in amputee patients.

The device, called BioPrax™, was created to prevent, control and eliminate bacterial biofilm infections associated with orthopedic implants — a common, costly and potentially devastating problem.

“Metallic implants, such as knee and hip replacements, are prone to getting antibiotic-resistant biofilm infections, which are nearly impossible to cure without removing the implant altogether,” says Wayne Bacon, president and chief executive officer of Garwood Medical Devices. “After removing orthopedic implants, there is a high percentage of failure to ever re-implant another joint replacement, costing patients and the health care system tens of billions of dollars per year and leading to many joint fusions, amputations and deaths.”

The technology behind BioPrax, a cathodic voltage-controlled electrical stimulation (CVCES), is patented by UB and Syracuse University and exclusively licensed by Garwood. When an infection is present, BioPrax delivers the electrical stimulation to a metal implant, such as a prosthetic knee, where it has an antibacterial effect and kills the infecting bacteria.

“We believe this novel infection-control strategy has the potential to introduce a paradigm shift in the treatment of orthopedic implant-associated infections (IAIs), as it would allow for effective treatment without having to remove the implant, thereby maintaining biomechanical stability and mobility of the body segment, and reducing the morbidity and mortality rates associated with recalcitrant IAIs,” says Mark Ehrensberger, co-inventor of the CVCES technology and associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Ehrensberger is also director of the Kenneth A Krackow, MD, Orthopaedic Research Laboratory in the Department of Orthopaedics in the Jacobs School.

New grant focuses on helping disabled vets

Previous, nonclinical studies have proven the technology to be effective at disrupting biofilms and killing bacteria, and showed no deleterious impacts to tissue or bone. Last year, Garwood received Breakthrough Device designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expedite development and approval of BioPrax.

According to the FDA’s website, the Breakthrough Devices Program targets technologies “that provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions.” The goal “is to provide patients and health care providers with timely access to these medical devices by speeding up their development, assessment and

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What the coronavirus vaccine shows about the potential for innovation

The word “innovation” is now one of the most cursed in the English language. Silicon Valley robber barons recognized the cultural capital created by millions of inventors and scientists going back thousands of years, and colonized it to describe their ruthless business practices or semi-pointless new widgets. Innovation used to mean things like “developing new crop varieties that feed a billion people,” now it means “creating a new way to trick people with compulsive personalities into spending $10,000 on Mobile Clans Fun Bucks.”

Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to cede the word entirely to Elizabeth Holmes or Mark Zuckerberg. Because the last several months have seen one of the most astounding examples of innovation in human history: the development of not one, not two, but now three different coronavirus vaccines. Thus far a Pfizer/BioNTech project, one from Moderna, and another from AstraZeneca/Oxford University all look good and will ideally start being distributed within weeks — and there are dozens more possibilities already in trials behind them.

It turns out human society can achieve a lot if we just try really hard. Who knew?

The speed of this vaccine development is totally unprecedented. Previous vaccines have taken years at best and usually over a decade to be developed and proved to work. Now, scientists did have some advantages in this case, as the SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to be relatively easy to target with a vaccine, and there are (alas) a whole lot of infections happening, which makes gathering the necessary data on efficacy easier. And the various scientific teams have built on years of past work developing a basic format for messenger RNA vaccines, which is what the first two vaccines use. But on the other hand, science was also starting from scratch. Unlike chicken pox or measles, which had been studied for decades before work on a vaccine started, scientists had to figure out how the virus works from a standing start — by sequencing its genetic code, analyzing its proteins, and so on — before getting to work on a vaccine. Yet all three were still designed and completed within a few months.

It seems what happened is that governments and private companies hurled massive quantities of resources and manpower at the problem. The European Union, desperate for a way to throttle the pandemic, directed billions in grants, contracts, and purchase orders as a promised reward. Even the Trump administration also pitched in several billion dollars in similar fashion with Operation Warp Speed. Then pharmaceutical companies found that their profit incentive lined up neatly with the need for a vaccine. Whoever could develop one and prove it worked fastest would reap enormous profits — and even the laggards would probably get a piece of the action too, since it will not be possible to produce any one vaccine fast enough to get it to the entire planet. So all the big players got their top scientists working around the clock.

There are a lot of ways innovation can

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If a Fish Could Build Its Own Home, What Would It Look Like? | Innovation

As climate change and human depredations destroy ecosystems across the globe, scientists are stepping in to offer beleaguered animals temporary housing. For an octopus in the Mediterranean Sea, that artificial refuge comes as a sunken plastic pipe, while in the Hyères archipelago off France, nesting seabirds can cozy up in semiburied plastic jugs. But some scientists are going further and designing housing from scratch.

At the University of Delaware, for example, ecologist Danielle Dixson has shown that 3-D-printed replicas of natural coral, crafted from a biodegradable cornstarch substrate, can provide temporary scaffolding for a recovering coral reef. Dixson and her colleagues analyzed the necessary structure for reef fish housing—a coral with too many branches prevents fish from fitting inside, but wide gaps allow predators to sneak in and wreak havoc—and concluded that nature had already gotten it right.

Other researchers are stretching their imaginations even more. If these replacement homes are artificial anyway, then why simply replicate an existing habitat? Are the dwellings animals find in nature really what they want? If, given the chance, a fish could design and build its own home, what would it look like? And if scientists could somehow figure out a fish’s ideal habitation, could they make that instead?

Alex Jordan, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, is searching for the answers to those questions. Jordan and his colleagues are embarking on research about the housing preferences of damselfish—species that are crucial to the healthy functioning of coral reefs—by presenting them with a panoply of options and tracking their behavior to figure out which features they value most.

“What structural elements do animals want and what do they need? Can we give them those things?” Jordan says. “We’re asking fish to become architects of their own spaces so we can understand what they want in their own world.”

Jordan’s efforts have already shown that some marine animals prefer artificial structures over natural ones. After 3-D printing a variety of shells and observing which ones cichlids gravitate toward, the scientists discovered that the fish opt for huge shells—ones that would never occur in nature. The finding shouldn’t be that shocking. After all, few among us would choose a cave over a castle.

Jordan’s research represents a confluence of art and science, and some of his team’s test structures—including a ceramic brick that looks like a Rice Krispies Treat; a metal sponge that’s been injected with gas that forms gaping holes, creating a trypophobe’s nightmare; a Barbie-pink block engineered for maximum surface area; and a simple three-dimensional hexagon—were designed at the studio of Rasmus Nielsen, a Danish artist and member of Superflex, a group that engages with environmental, social, and political issues through art. Jordan calls the designs “fish Legos,” while Nielsen calls them “Ikea for fish.”

Covid-19 has thrown a wrench into Jordan’s timeline, but once the pandemic subsides, he intends to replicate the cichlid laboratory research in the wild. He’ll also test out those fish Lego bricks

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Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University awarded the WRDS-SSRN Innovation Prize

Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) and SSRN are pleased to announce the Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, as the 2020 WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award winner for the Asia Pacific region.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

2020 Asia Pacific region winner of WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award. (Photo: Business Wire)

The WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award series elevates the visibility of impact-focused research and the institutions that conduct it. Each year, awards are presented to rising business schools from North America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions to highlight innovation and research excellence. Together, WRDS and SSRN, the world’s leading scholarly research network, are advancing impact-focused research, changing policy and practice at regulatory, national and global levels. In addition to the Innovation Award, the organizations have developed the WRDS Research Paper Series, a searchable repository of WRDS-cited papers submitted to SSRN.

As a part of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, WRDS provides the leading business intelligence, data analytics and research platform to global institutions – enabling comprehensive thought leadership, historical analysis and insight into the latest innovations in academic research.

Bob Zarazowski, managing director of WRDS, and Gregg Gordon, managing director of SSRN, presented the award to Fangruo Chen, Dean of Antai College of Economics and Management, during the virtual AACSB Asia Pacific Annual Conference.

“WRDS is delighted to recognize and support the impactful research taking place at Antai College of Economics and Management,” said Bob Zarazowski. “We are pleased to highlight the prominence of their work.”

“Research is a central mission for our school, and we will continue to innovate to increase its impact on society,” said Fangruo Chen, Dean, Antai College of Economics and Management. “Thank you for honoring us with the WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award.”

“SSRN continues to be excited about the Innovation Award because of the important research happening at schools like Antai College of Economics and Management, and the world needs more high quality research,” said Gregg Gordon.

About SSRN
SSRN is a worldwide collaborative of 460,000 authors and more than 2.2 million users that is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of research. Founded in 1994, it has grown to over 50 discipline-based research networks. Each of SSRN’s networks encourages the early sharing of research by reviewing and distributing submitted papers from scholars. SSRN encourages readers to communicate directly with authors concerning their own and other’s research. SSRN serves authors and readers in approximately 140 countries around the world.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier

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Innovation spins spider web architecture into 3-D imaging technology

Innovation spins spider web architecture into 3D imaging technology
A spiderweb-inspired fractal design is used for hemispherical 3D photodetection to replicate the vision system of arthropods. Credit: Sena Huh/Purdue University

Purdue University innovators are taking cues from nature to develop 3-D photodetectors for biomedical imaging.

The Purdue researchers used some architectural features from spider webs to develop the technology. Spider webs typically provide excellent mechanical adaptability and damage-tolerance against various mechanical loads such as storms.

“We employed the unique fractal design of a spider web for the development of deformable and reliable electronics that can seamlessly interface with any 3-D curvilinear surface,” said Chi Hwan Lee, a Purdue assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering. “For example, we demonstrated a hemispherical, or dome-shaped, photodetector array that can detect both direction and intensity of incident light at the same time, like the vision system of arthropods such as insects and crustaceans.”

The Purdue technology uses the structural architecture of a spider web that exhibits a repeating pattern. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF; CMMI-1928784) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL; S-114-054-002). It is published in Advanced Materials.

Lee said this provides unique capabilities to distribute externally induced stress throughout the threads according to the effective ratio of spiral and radial dimensions and provides greater extensibility to better dissipate force under stretching. Lee said it also can tolerate minor cuts of the threads while maintaining overall strength and function of the entire web architecture.

“The resulting 3-D optoelectronic architectures are particularly attractive for photodetection systems that require a large field of view and wide-angle antireflection, which will be useful for many biomedical and military imaging purposes,” said Muhammad Ashraful Alam, the Jai N. Gupta Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Alam said the work establishes a platform technology that can integrate a fractal web design with system-level hemispherical electronics and sensors, thereby offering several excellent mechanical adaptability and damage-tolerance against various mechanical loads.

“The assembly technique presented in this work enables deploying 2-D deformable electronics in 3-D architectures, which may foreshadow new opportunities to better advance the field of 3-D electronic and optoelectronic devices,” Lee said.

Novel testing platform designed for breast cancer cells

More information:
Eun Kwang Lee et al, Fractal Web Design of a Hemispherical Photodetector Array with Organic‐Dye‐Sensitized Graphene Hybrid Composites, Advanced Materials (2020). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202004456
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Purdue University

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2020 World Young Scientist Summit Fosters a Global Youth Community for Science and Innovation

The 2020 World Young Scientist Summit (WYSS) was held on October 18-19, 2020, in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, bringing together representatives from 125 countries/regions and international organizations. Participants included world-class scientists, Nobel laureates, and 113 academics from China and overseas, around 70% of whom were aged under 45.

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Young scientists recite the Wenzhou Declaration of the World Young Scientist Summit in multiple languages on October 18, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua/Cuili)

The WYSS is an annual event for leading young global talent, jointly sponsored by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province.

The 2020 Summit boasted an extensive program divided into four sections: Moment of Science, Dialogue with the Future, Engagement & Sharing, and Realizing Dreams, and included around 30 sessions and activities, such as the Global Young Scientist Scholar Roundtable and International Forum on Comprehensive Healthcare.

Due to the pandemic, the Summit was held both online and offline to allow participants across the globe to connect and converse with each other. Adopting the theme “Converging the World’s Talents, Creating a Better Future,” it served as an international, youth-oriented, science-focused platform to develop a global vision, discuss international issues, share China’s perspectives, and also present Zhejiang to the world.

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has brought dramatic changes to the global public health system and international order. As future world leaders, young scientists have a responsibility to share knowledge and ideas to build a community with a shared future for humankind and help create better lives for people around the globe. According to Wan Gang, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and President of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, China has officially joined the WHO-led program COVAX, to work with the international community to address global uncertainties caused by the pandemic.

During the Summit, the 16th China Youth Science and Technology Award Ceremony was also held to recognize 100 young scientists selected for their outstanding contributions to the nation’s socio-economic development and science, technology, and innovation.

This year, the Summit added a new session, the Global Young Scientist Scholar Roundtable, co-hosted by several international organizations, including the Young Earth Scientists (YES) Network, the Global Young Academy, the World Academy of Sciences, and the UN Human Settlements Programme, where the participants from China and abroad jointly issued the “Wenzhou Declaration of the World Young Scientist Summit”.

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Wei Wang
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TCS and Wyoming Department of Education to Host Statewide goIT Digital Innovation Challenge for Middle School Innovators

    TCS and Wyoming Department of Education to Host Statewide goIT Digital
              Innovation Challenge for Middle School Innovators

Tata Consultancy Services Partnered with the Wyoming Department of Education
to Introduce 2,000+ Students to Design Thinking and Computer Science, Help
Them Use Technology to Solve Real-world Problems through goIT

PR Newswire

CHEYENNE, Wyo. and NEW YORK, Oct. 16, 2020

CHEYENNE, Wyo. and NEW YORK, Oct. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Tata Consultancy
Services (TCS) (BSE: 532540, NSE: TCS), a leading global IT services,
consulting and business solutions organization, and the Wyoming Department of
Education (WDE), will co-host Wyoming's first statewide goIT Digital
Innovation Challenge, on October 17, bringing together top student teams from
three participating school districts to pitch their digital innovations and
compete against one another for the title of Wyoming goIT Champion.

Tata Consultancy Services.(PRNewsFoto/Tata Consultancy Services)
(PRNewsfoto/Tata Consultancy Services)

Guest speakers at the virtual event include Mark Gordon, Governor of Wyoming,
and Surya (Sury) Kant, Chairman of North America, TCS. Robin Cooley, Director
of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, Laurel Ballard, the WDE's
State Leader for Teacher Resources and CS Education Champion, and Robert Kane,
U.S. Head, Life Sciences Industries, TCS, will make up the panel of judges,
and address the students on how important embracing technology and innovation
will be to their own careers and the future of Wyoming.

The event aligns with the Wyoming State Legislature's mandate that all schools
must integrate computer science (CS) into their curriculums by 2022. In 2018,
the Wyoming Department of Education addressed this need by launching a
partnership with TCS to bring its flagship STEM education program, goIT, to
all of Wyoming's middle school students.

goIT is a digital innovation education program that empowers students to
pursue careers in technology by engaging in standards-aligned, project-based
learning. Over the course of 12-20 hours, students learn about the importance
of CS and design thinking and are then challenged to ideate digital
innovations that solve or address community or world issues.

Founded in 2009, goIT has reached over 30,000 students in the US and Canada in
over 100 different cities and has engaged over 5,000 employee mentors. In
recent years, goIT has also expanded globally – and has now reached 22
countries and benefited over 75,000 students.

The Wyoming goIT program was piloted with Johnson County #1 School District
and reached over 300 students from Clear Creek and Kaycee Middle Schools. In
the second year of partnership, goIT expanded to three of the five planned
districts prior to COVID-19 shutdowns, impacting roughly 2,000 students from
seven different schools and challenging them to ideate apps that would attract
residents to the state, either by highlighting the unique opportunities to be
found living in Wyoming, or addressing some of the issues that students feel
drive residents away. Employees from TCS and the Wyoming Department of
Workforce Services have also volunteered their time to mentor students through
the program.

"TCS believes in empowering people and communities by connecting them to
opportunities in the digital economy," said Surya 
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