BME News

Ahmad Falahatpisheh Aug 7, 2014
UCI Biomedical Engineering Postdoc Receives Prestigious Scholarship from American Heart Association

The American Heart Association (AHA) has awarded UC Irvine postdoctoral scholar Ahmad Falahatpisheh with a two-year ($82,000) scholarship. Falahatpisheh, an expert in computational modeling of the heart, works with Dr. Arash Kheradvar, associate professor of biomedical engineering, in the Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology.

Falahatpisheh’s research involves using advanced post-processing methods related to magnetic resonance imaging to study the hearts of patients born with a complex congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). TOF involves four anatomical abnormalities in the heart that mainly affects the right-side of the heart, and although it is surgically repaired during infancy, it may eventually lead to right-sided heart failure. Falahatpisheh will study the flow inside the hearts of patients who have the defect and have had surgical repair, and compare with the normal hearts in volunteers.

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Sabee Molloi Jul 24, 2014
Academy of Radiology Research honors Sabee Molloi as Distinguished Investigator

Sabee Molloi, professor of radiological sciences at UCI, has been named a Distinguished Investigator of the Academy of Radiology Research. The honor recognizes imaging researchers for their significant contributions in the field of medical imaging. Molloi, who holds joint faculty appointments in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering, focuses on developing novel diagnostic imaging techniques for breast cancer and cardiac disease.

At UCI, his research group has developed a dual-energy mammography technique that takes images of a breast at different energy levels to measure tissue density, which is important because women with dense breast tissue are four to five times more likely to develop tumors. And partnering with Carlos Iribarren, a research scientist from Kaiser Permanente, he is assessing whether breast arterial calcification detected by mammography can be used to gauge cardiovascular disease risk. For this effort, the two have received a $6.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute to study mammography-identified calcium buildup in breast arteries in more than 5,000 African American, Latino, Asian and white women at three Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Northern California. The researchers will test whether these calcifications correlate with several cardiovascular disease risk factors. A technique to accurately measure breast arterial calcium mass was developed in Molloi’s laboratory.

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Jul 2, 2014
Butterworth and Beall competitions reward the best in both hardware and software

To the naked eye, this year’s Butterworth Product Development Competition at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences looked much as it always has. All throughout the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) in late May, teams of earnest students, under the watchful eye of their industry, faculty and alumni mentors, gave impassioned presentations about their innovative projects to a panel of distinguished judges, with the results announced at a festive gathering that evening.

But if you’d been to previous installments of the contest, you might have sensed that there were perhaps more snappily dressed students around. Well, there were – roughly twice as many. The 11th annual Butterworth development competition was also the inaugural year for the Beall Student Design Competition.

The Butterworth competition is named for, and generously supported by, Bren School alumnus Paul Butterworth (B.S. ’74, M.S. ’81), chief technical officer of AccessG2 Inc. The Beall competition is made possible by the generosity of the Beall Family Foundation.

Where Butterworth emphasizes software, and requires that at least one team member be from ICS, Beall focuses on hardware, and requires that least one team member be from the Samueli School of Engineering. The two competitions were not only concurrent and complementary, they also overlapped: Several teams entered their projects in both competitions.

There was also more prize money at stake – a total of $30,000 between the Butterworth and Beall contests.

Jun 16, 2014
UC Irvine Hosts 15th Annual UC Bioengineering Symposium

More than 300 bioengineering students and faculty from 10 University of California campuses will congregate at UC Irvine this week, June 18-20, for the 15th annual UC Bioengineering Symposium.  The event brings these engineers together to share knowledge and best practices and to forge stronger relationships and collaborations.

Hosted by the Samueli School’s Biomedical Engineering Department, this year’s event features four keynote speakers, including Masimo Corporation Founder and CEO Joe Kiani, Edwards Lifesciences Corporation Vice President Stanton Rowe and biomedical engineering professors Nimmi Ramanujam (Duke University) and Bruce Tromberg (UCI and Beckman Laser Institute).

A special highlight will be the student and junior faculty “Shark Tank,” modeled after the popular television show in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their new business ideas to a panel of potential investors. Six student teams and six faculty members will pitch to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes. Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli will be amongst the “sharks” questioning the faculty. See here for a schedule.

“The focus of this symposium is unique and timely,” says conference organizer and UCI Associate Professor Michelle Khine. “It is focused on medical technology innovations: how to translate our ‘ah-ha’ moments into real world solutions to the most difficult medical challenges. Bioengineering is the No. 1 growth profession in Southern California. By bringing industry together with all 10 UC campuses, we hope to synergize our efforts to create effective medical technologies and a pipeline of new innovators.”

National Science Foundation May 2, 2014
Seven Engineering Grad Students Earn NSF Research Fellowships

The National Science Foundation has granted seven UC Irvine engineering graduate students a research fellowship. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. 

"The School of Engineering is thrilled that such dedicated and talented students have chosen UCI for their graduate work - these awards recognize years of consistent and exceptional effort,” says Lee Swindlehurst, associate dean for research and graduate studies. “The number of awards the school received this year is a strong indicator of both the quality of our graduate student body and the hard work of our faculty in focused recruiting of top-tier domestic students."

Across campus, 37 students won fellowships this year, putting UCI ninth in the nation and tied for second within the University of California system for the prestigious awards. Here are the Samueli School’s 2014 fellowship awardees.

Professors Abraham Lee (left) and Ian Papautsky at kick-off meeting for CADMIM Apr 10, 2014
New NSF Center Leverages Industry Partnerships to Improve Microfluidic Devices

Thirteen industry partners gathered today at UC Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering for the inaugural meeting of a newly established National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC). The Center for Advanced Design and Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics (CADMIM) will develop design tools and manufacturing technologies for integrated microfluidics, also known as labs-on-a-chip. These tiny devices can be used for cost-effective, quick and easy diagnosis of problems in the environment, agriculture and human health.  

The mission of the center is to advance research and education on the science, engineering and applications of integrated microfluidic design and expandable production through dedicated ongoing industrial partnerships.

Much of the development of labs-on-a-chip has so far been achieved at universities, without much consideration of the materials being able to intersect with other components and existing technology infrastructure. Abraham Lee, the William Link professor and chair of the biomedical engineering department who will serve as CADMIM director and principal investigator, sees the center as a way to achieve higher levels of integration with academia and industry.

“The design of microfluidic technology has been either bottom up, driven by the academic researchers motivated by curiosity and innovation, or top down, driven by industry looking to solve problems within the current technology systems,” says Lee. “I see CADMIM being able to connect the two approaches and enabling real progress.”

This project is designed to help patients with Parkinson's Disease Mar 31, 2014
97 Senior Projects Displayed at Winter Design Review

Engineering students proudly showed off their senior design projects at the 2014 Winter Design Review in mid-March. More than 500 students were involved in 97 projects.

Assistant Professor Kristen Davis judges the water filtration competition Mar 14, 2014
Samueli School Celebrates E-Week

Nearly 900 engineering students participated in E-Week 2014, organized by the Samueli School’s Engineering Student Council (ESC).  This year’s theme was “The Art of Engineering,” and all students who checked in received a Samueli School t-shirt. The celebration featured the Dean’s Pancake Breakfast, an Awards Banquet, 10 competitions, a BBQ and the annual softball game, pitting students against faculty. Students broke the professors’ long-running winning streak with a tie game. 

E-Week is an annual event aimed at increasing public awareness and appreciation for the engineering profession. Established in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the weeklong celebration provides an avenue for students to demonstrate inventiveness and imagination through a variety of events.

“This week is intended to benefit the engineering students, and if they take advantage of the opportunity, they can get a lot out of it,” says Liz Brooks, ESC president. “The week is put on to celebrate engineering and acknowledge all of the hard work engineers do every single day. After participating in UCI’s E-Week since I was a freshman, I can say it is continuously improving every year.”

From left: Engineering graduate students Jolie McLane, Eugene Lee and Sophia Lin Feb 24, 2014
A Hundred Tiny Hands Hopes to Inspire Young Scientists

Michelle Khine is known for her playful approach to science. She used a toy – Shrinky Dinks – to invent a method of quickly and cheaply developing custom microfluidic chips for researchers to use in their labs. Now she and her student researchers are inventing toys to inspire kids to not only conduct science, but also become inventors themselves.

The associate professor of biomedical engineering, most recently named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business 1000, issued a challenge to the graduate students working in her laboratory. “Many of the students in my lab serve as Rocket Science Tutors, so they are working with kids already,” says Khine. “I wanted them to think about how to get children interested in becoming inventors.”

They came up with three ideas for educational toy kits that are “fun, creative, and chock-full of scientific content and ah-ha moments for any child at heart.” Khine and her students formed an academic nonprofit co-op called A Hundred Tiny Hands and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to produce the kits. Contributors to the Kickstarter campaign will receive the kits and other fun gifts in return (such as kid-sized lab coats), or they can donate to a school in need and have their donation matched with contributions from Tiny Hands.

Each kit’s packaging features a cartoon character based on the corresponding graduate student and includes a booklet using the character to help children learn the scientific concepts. The idea with the kits is to create a virtual community of young inventors. A Hundred Tiny Hands plans to hold fun challenges – who can build the biggest Polytropolis city with the maximum number of lit up buildings generated from a nine-volt battery? It also intends to encourage kids to upload their own invention ideas, and the graduate students would help them make and produce their own custom kits, including a cartoon character made from their likeness to star as the main character in the booklet and on the box.

Chang Liu's research featured in Nature Chemical Biology Feb 21, 2014
Biomedical Engineer Designs a Living Cell with Second DNA Replication System

UC Irvine’s Chang Liu has created an engineered living cell with a second DNA replication system that mutates independently of and without harming the cell’s original genome. This parallel replication cell works like a two-lane highway -- with a fast lane and a slow lane -- for direct evolution in a lab setting.  With it, biomedical engineers will be able to rapidly evolve a huge array of biomolecules with custom desired functions. Liu and his research group published their work in the March issue of Nature Chemical Biology.

“Using the evolutionary process in a bioengineering lab is historically a very inefficient endeavor because you have to constantly move DNA into and out of cells,” explains Liu, an assistant professor in biomedical engineering. “This is because high mutation rates, necessary to create enough diversity to find new function on laboratory timescales, are only available in a test tube. High mutation rates are not available inside cells. In fact, organismal mutation rates must be kept extremely low because modern organisms have large complex genomes that are easily broken by high mutation rates.”

The parallel replication system designed by Liu can be made highly error-prone without hurting the genome, and any gene encoded on the new system will undergo rapid evolution. “Genes of interest placed in the fast lane can potentially evolve thousands to millions of times faster than they would if they were encoded in the genome, or the slow lane,” says Liu.

Dr. Arash Kheradvar holds a model of a heart valve used in his research to advance cardiovascular science. Feb 7, 2014
The Children’s Heart Foundation and American Heart Association Sponsor Two Cardiovascular Science Projects in Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Arash Kheradvar, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, has received two prestigious grants to advance research and development in cardiovascular science.

The Children’s Heart Foundation has awarded Kheradvar $200,000 over two years to support a hybrid tissue-engineered heart valve. Kheradvar and his research team are developing a patient-specific heart valve prosthesis with self-regenerating capacity. “This approach to engineering heart valves holds promise for combining the mechanical valves’ long-term durability advantages with biological valves’ self-regenerating capacity and improved biocompatibility and hemodynamics,” explains Kheradvar, a Fellow of the American Heart Association.

Kheradvar has also received a Grant-in-Aid from the American Heart Association to study patients with right-sided heart failure, using UC Irvine’s state-of-the-art 4-D-flow echocardiography technology. Despite the fact that right-sided heart failure may carry a worse prognosis than left-sided heart failure, almost no quantitative information is available on flow patterns inside the right ventricle. The main reasons for this lack of knowledge are the highly 3-D flow within the right side of the heart, and the inability of current imaging modalities to quantitatively map such 3-D blood flow patterns.

“This study should help us better understand the blood flow features in failing right hearts and devise more efficient therapies for these patients,” says Kheradvar.

Michelle Digman angles a laser beam into a special microscope to excite the flourescent molecules in tissue Jan 31, 2014
Biomedical Engineer Receives Grant from Allergan

Allergan has awarded Michelle Digman a $787,000 grant to study how a subunit of botulinum neuro-toxin affects cells and tissue on a molecular level. An assistant professor of biomedical engineering, Digman’s research expertise involves using optical microscopy tools to track molecules and microscopic particles in living cells and tissues. She is a co-investigator of UC Irvine’s Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics, an NIH Biotechnology Resource for the development of fluorescence microscopy.

With this grant, she will be using fluorescent imaging to track the transport and diffusion of the toxin in living cells, to better understand any biochemical and physiological changes that occur. She will also study metabolic changes in tissue at the point of injection.

“Botulinum neuro-toxin is used in a variety of clinical treatments including neuromuscular diseases, epilepsy and pain-related illnesses,” says Digman. “This study is important on a clinical level and will provide valuable information in the development of future therapies for pain-related disorders.”

water jet cart testing Dec 20, 2013
Fall Design Review Showcases Senior Design Projects

Around 860 people attended the 2013 Fall Design Review, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and industry representatives.

Dec 19, 2013
Life-changing Technology

Malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every minute. This life-threatening disease, caused by parasites transmitted through infected mosquitoes, can be prevented and cured if detected and treated early. But malaria afflicts primarily the poor, who often do not have ready access to healthcare and who tend to live in malaria-prone rural areas in dwellings that offer few barriers against mosquitoes.

This type of global health challenge inspired biomedical engineering students at UC Irvine who participated in Calit2’s Multidisciplinary Design Program.

The program engages undergraduates campuswide in research teams co-mentored by at least two faculty members from different schools. Under the guidance of biomedical engineering professor William Tang, and public health professor Dele Ogunseitan, two student teams designed portable, low-cost, rapid-diagnostic devices using microfluidic technology. One team’s device detects malaria; the other’s, HIV.

A few students from each team were selected to travel abroad to the very places grappling with these diseases. The expeditions, supported by a $25,000 gift from Edwards Lifesciences, provided the ultimate field research experience.

H. Kumar Wickramasinghe Dec 12, 2013
Engineer Named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

Professor H. Kumar Wickramasinghe is among 143 innovators to be named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for 2013. Wickramasinghe is a UC Irvine professor and the Henry Samueli Endowed Chair in electrical engineering and computer science, with joint appointments in biomedical engineering and chemical engineering and materials science.

Being named a NAI Fellow is distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

Wickramasinghe, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, is a well-respected pioneer in nanotechnology. He currently holds 94 patents. Some of his most significant inventions and contributions to the nano field include the development of the vibrating mode atomic force microscope (AFM), the magnetic force microscope, the electrostatic force microscope, the Kelvin probe force microscope, the scanning thermal microscope, and the apertureless near-field optical microscope. Most of these scanning probe microscopes are standard instruments used today for nano-scale characterization.

"I am humbled and honored to be among this distinguished group of Nobel Laureates and National Medal Prize winners,” says Wickramasinghe. “The greatest thrill I get is to see some of my inventions translated to practice and in use all over the world."

An array of glassblown micro-cells used to derive the magnetic field gradient. Oct 10, 2013
NSF Recognizes Andrei Shkel with EAGER Award

Professor Andrei Shkel has received a $300,000 National Science Foundation EAGER (Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research) Award.

St. Margaret's High School Summer Internship Sep 20, 2013
St. Margaret’s High School Students Gain University-level Research Experience during Summer Internships at Samueli School

Six students participated in this year’s St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School Summer Internship Program at the Samueli School of Engineering,

Elliot Hui Aug 22, 2013
Elliot Hui Receives DARPA Young Faculty Award

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has given Elliot Hui, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, a Young Faculty Award for his project titled “Directed Evolution of Phytochrome Absorption Spectra for Multichannel Optogenetic Cellular Interfaces.” He will receive $425,000 over two years.

building a fuel cell Jul 22, 2013
Having Fun, FABcamp Style

The Samueli School’s FABcamp got off to a boisterous beginning with a full roster of middle school children. The first group of 9 girls and 20 boys could be seen touring labs and walking around the school in bright yellow t-shirts. 

Matthew Jenusaitis Jun 28, 2013
Samueli School Partners with OCTANe to Encourage SBIR Grant Applicants

OCTANe and the Samueli School partnered to present a workshop on how to go after small business government grants for innovation research (SBIR) and technology transfer (STTR). The second in a three-part grant development series, the workshop drew nearly 50 people including professors, graduate students, industry professionals and entrepreneurs.

“Over the past few years, government grant funding for innovative research and technology in Orange County has been significantly less than either San Diego or Los Angeles counties,” explains Matthew Jenusaitis, OCTANe president and CEO.  “That’s not because there is less technology here, but rather, because Orange County needs to be more active in pursuing these federal sources of early stage capital.  The goal of this program series is to increase the awareness, provide education, and stimulate action to close the gap.”

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