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University research endeavors

Instrumental donation

Texas Instruments has awarded UT Arlington $225,000 in new funds to enhance biomedical research on medical diagnostics in the College of Engineering. “Texas Instruments is very supportive of education in general, particularly in science and engineering, because it is critical to our work force development,” says Allen Bowling, TI fellow and manager of research and consortia.

Biomaterial breakthrough

Bioengineering Assistant Professor Jian Yang and his fellow researchers are making progress in their attempt to safely illuminate the invisible. An interdisciplinary, interinstitutional team led by Dr. Yang has developed biodegradable fluorescent biomaterials. biodegradable polymersMost existing materials with photoluminescent properties have toxic or carcinogenic properties and other negative aspects. Since these new biocompatible, biodegradable synthetic polymers do not, the researchers believe that they will prove useful for cancer therapy, cellular imaging, biosensing, immunology, drug delivery and tissue engineering. To aid the work, the team received more than $400,000 from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and BioEngineering.

Arrivederci, Arlington

Pranesh Aswath, associate chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and conduct research at the University of Trento in Italy during the 2009-10 academic year. Dr. Aswath, who’s also a professor in MSE and mechanical and aerospace engineering, is focusing his studies on tribology and biomaterials. The Fulbright Program, an international exchange that operates in more than 155 countries, enables recipients to observe cultures, exchange ideas and embark on joint ventures.

Stemming disease

Researchers at UT Arlington have discovered that implantation of medical devices such as catheters leads to the creation of 200 times as many adult stem cells than previous methods of harvesting. Bioengineering Professor Liping Tang says the discovery shows that the adult stem cells created are multipotent, meaning they have numerous functions. stem cellThe technology has a patent pending. “In our research, the stem cells recovered could be reinserted into the same person who manufactured them to help fight disease,” Dr. Tang says. “Those adult stem cells also can be used for tissue engineering and stem cell therapies.” The new method could provide a much less controversial way of collecting stem cells than science that focuses on isolating embryonic stem cells. Tang discovered the method while investigating how to make the implantation of medical devices safer for patients.

Cold War clean-up

A team led by physics Professor Asok Ray is researching the safest methods to dispose of the uranium and plutonium in decommissioned American and Russian nuclear weapons. It’s a timely problem, as the countries agreed last summer to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by at least 25 percent. Dr. Ray and his team are using supercomputers and other resources to simulate the structures of highly radioactive materials. These should help them better predict the materials’ reaction processes when exposed to elements they’ll encounter on disposal, such as oxygen, hydrogen and water.
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