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UT Arlington, UT Southwestern Collaborate on High-impact Bioengineering/Science Research Projects

April 4, 2007

The University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (UTSW), motivated by a desire to stimulate interdisciplinary interactions involving faculty, fellows and students between both institutions, have announced the initiation of seven collaborative research projects. The projects involve several departments within the Colleges of Engineering and Science at UT Arlington in collaboration with faculty at UTSW and are expected to result in prominent and practical outcomes.

Forty-five projects were jointly submitted for consideration in this new program, but only seven were approved for funding. A panel of 15 faculty representing both institutions reviewed the submissions. “Only the top tier was approved,” said Dr. Ron Elsenbaumer, Vice President for Research at UT Arlington. “There were many, many meritorious proposals we looked at; I wish we could have funded more.” Funding for the seven projects will total around $600,000.

Projects involving faculty from the College of Engineering include:
 “Development of a Novel Biodegradable Stent” – Dr. Jian Yang, Bioengineering, and Dr. Panos Shiakolas, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (with Drs. Emmanouil Brilakis and Subhash Banerjee at UTSW). The goal of this project is to design and test non-inflammatory, antithrombotic, biodegradable coronary artery stents composed of nanocomposite materials and fabricated using femtosecond pulse laser ablation.
 “Quantification of in vivo Protein Dynamics at the Single Molecule Level” – Dr. Georgios Alexandrakis, Bioengineering (with Drs. David Chen and David Pistenmaa at UTSW). This study will develop and establish capabilities to quantify the molecular interaction networks in living cells and explain the function of proteins and enzymes involved in DNA repair, leading to the understanding of cancer onset and progression and other biological problems.
 “Toward a Model of the Average Heart with the Normal and Abnormal Variations” – Dr. Heng Huang, Computer Science & Engineering (with Drs. Roderick McColl and Ron Peshock at UTSW) . This study will establish a baseline description of an average healthy heart so as to determine the risk of a cardiac event with any given variance from normal and what therapy or life-style changes might be followed to return a heart to normalcy.

Projects involving faculty from the College of Science include:
 “Neuropathic Pain Mechanisms in Myelination Disorders” – Drs. Perry Fuchs and Yuan Bo Peng, Psychology (with Dr. Qing Lu at UTSW). The study should provide a basis for new and innovative approaches to the prevention and treatment of pain in multiple sclerosis patients.
 “Adjustment to Lung Cancer” – Dr. Angela Liegey Dougall, Psychology (with Dr. Joan Schiller at UTSW). The study will demonstrate that depression, self-blame and other negative emotions felt by patients with lung cancer have an adverse effect on treatment and that patients can benefit from psychological intervention.
 “Genetic, Molecular and Neurological Bases of Sexual Discrimination in Drosophila” – Dr. Pawel Michalak, Biology (with Dr. Dean Smith at UTSW). This project will lead to a better understanding how genes influence sexuality and mating preference, especially genes related to odorant receptor neurons and their contribution to the evolution of reproductive isolation.
 “DNA Methytransferases in Neuronal Signaling and Resulting Behavioral Output” – Dr. Linda Perrotti, Psychology (with Dr. Lisa Monteggia at UTSW). This study will investigate how changes in DNA methylation result in behavioral alterations mimicking debilitating illnesses and diseases such as schizophrenia, autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Rett Syndrome.

Both institutions were participants in “UT Metroplex Days” last fall, when events were designed to create a greater awareness of the latest research that intersect the areas of biology, medicine and bioengineering and to promote greater collaborations among the scientists and engineers from academia and industry in the region.

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