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Clarkson University Professor Receives $1.6 Million ONR Grant for Field Hospital on a Chip Research
[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/katzgroup.jpg]
With a $1.6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Clarkson University Milton Kerker Chaired Professor Evgeny Katz will be a co-PI (co-principal investigator) on a joint project with University of California San Diego (UCSD) that hopes to create a "field hospital on a chip" that soldiers can wear on the battlefield.
Katz, who has been at Clarkson for only two years, has been working on his part of the project since before his arrival, focusing on biocomputing and enzyme logic. In the last two years, Katz and his team of Clarkson students and colleagues have published 15 papers on the subject.
The new project, titled "Autonomous Devices for Advanced Personnel Treatment (ADAPT): Use of enzymes as "logic gates" for sensor fidelity and control," is the next step for Katz and will last another four years.
The end result of the project will be an automated sense-and-treat system that can continuously monitor a soldier’s sweat, tears or blood for biomarkers that signal common battlefield injuries such as trauma, shock, brain injury or fatigue. Once the system detects a battlefield injury, it will automatically administer the proper medication, thus beginning the treatment-well before the soldier has reached a field hospital.
Reaching this level of automated diagnostic dexterity is where Katz comes in. The "enzyme logic" research recently demonstrated by Katz and his team, which showed that enzymes can not only measure biomarkers, but also provide the logic necessary to make a limited set of diagnoses based on multiple biological variables, is what this project plans to build upon.
"We have already designed bioelectrodes and biofuel cells responding to multiple biochemical signals in a logic way," says Katz. "In the future we could expect implantable devices controlled by physiological signals and responding to the needs of an organism, notably a human."
The ONR grant will be split 50/50 between Katz and UC San Diego Professor Joseph Wang, the PI on the project, who has assembled the team and will lead the effort.
"I am excited for Clarkson University to be a part of this cutting-edge research on how to best protect and care for our soldiers on the battlefield. This type of research is vitally important to our men and women in the Armed Forces, and I am glad the Office of Navel Research chose Clarkson as the co-recipient of this important grant," said Congressman John M. McHugh (NY-23). "I look forward to seeing the results of this research, and am hopeful that this project could provide benefits for every service member."
This funding will allow for Katz to have two postdoctoral researchers and one graduate student working on his team. It will also cover the cost of very expensive biochemicals used in the project.
"The grant will bring some stability for the research project because it is given for four consecutive years." It will almost double our research abilities and tremendously speed up the research," says Katz.
Wang and Katz hope that the resulting enzyme-logic sense and treat system will revolutionize the monitoring and treatment of injured soldiers and will lead to dramatic improvements in their survival rate.
For more information, also see the UCSD news release at http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/10-08FieldHospitalOnAChip.asp .
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Photo caption: Prof. Evgeny Katz with a group of students and research associates. Sitting (left to right): Ph. D. students Soujanya Chinnapareddy and Mary Anitha Arugula, Katz, and Ph.D. student Guinevere Strack. Standing (left to right): Ph.D. student Zhou Jian, Research Assistant Professor Marcos Pita, Postdoctoral Research Associate Jan Halamek, and Ph.D. student Tsz Kin Tam.