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News Archive 2001 - 2010

UT Arlington Researchers Receive Texas Ignition Fund Grants

June 30, 2009

Three projects conducted by researchers in the Colleges of Engineering and Science at The University of Texas at Arlington have received product development funding from the University of Texas System. Texas Ignition Fund (TIF) grants stimulate commercialization activities at UT System institutions by providing $50,000 grants for the development and maturation of research discoveries into marketable intellectual properties.

Dr. Hanli Liu, a professor of bioengineering, received a grant for her “Optically-guided Needle Biopsy System.” This technology, being developed in a partnership with International Techlink Group Corp., aims to improve prostate cancer diagnosis by creating a low-cost, real-time system to guide physicians during needle biopsies.

Dr. Liu’s system uses steady-state, broadband reflectance spectroscopy to differentiate cancerous tissue from non-cancer tissue. The proposed system will incorporate an optical probe compatible with existing needle biopsy setups and will help make the diagnosis of prostate cancer more accurate, less painful and faster (in real-time) than current procedures.

Dr. Brian Dennis, an assistant professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering, and Dr. John Priest, a professor of industrial & manufacturing systems engineering, will use their grant in an attempt to adapt their microreactor process, which currently converts assorted plant life oils into biodiesel fuel and lignite coal into crude oil, to use natural gas to create synthetic transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Their process has the potential of significantly reducing the nation’s dependence on imported oil, currently 12 million barrels per day.

In addition to utilizing natural gas, a reliable domestic energy source, the team’s process produces no-sulfur diesel, gasoline and jet fuel at competitive prices. Recent changes in U.S. environmental laws require added restrictions on the sulfur content of diesel, resulting in the importation of almost the entire supply of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Drs. Dennis and Priest have received a commitment from a Texas-based oil company to fund the development of a full-scale “microrefinery” utilizing the microreactor process should their natural gas adaptation be successful.

Dr. Digant Dave’, an assistant professor of bioengineering, and Dr. Richard Timmons, a professor of chemistry, are collaborating to develop a biomolecular interaction analysis platform for the screening and molecular profiling of large and small biomolecules. Many diseases, including some forms of cancer, are accompanied with a change in the relevant abundance of select molecules, particularly proteins. A rapid and inexpensive way to identify these imbalances would greatly improve the early detection of disease as well as monitoring the efficacy of the drug treatments that are subsequently administered.

Drs. Dave’ and Timmons have demonstrated the ability of their prototype instrument to detect a sub-monolayer of target biomolecules binding to a functionalized recognition layer; employing a drug with the most effective binding characteristics for a given disease will improve its effectiveness. Their technology will prove useful in replacing some current time consuming, and generally expensive, clinical techniques with a more sensitive and faster analytical procedure. The two are teaming with Emergent Technologies, Inc. to create a commercially-viable product suitable for a wide variety of biomedical applications.