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News Archive 2001 - 2010

UT Arlington Engineering Professor Receives Prestigious NSF Grant

November 3, 2009

The National Science Foundation’s Early Career Development (CAREER) Award is one of the most highly respected by engineering and science researchers. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Yaling Liu has become the seventh University of Texas at Arlington College of Engineering faculty member to receive a CAREER award.

Dr. Liu received the award based on his proposed project to develop a method for predicting the efficacy of drug-carrying nanoparticles to a targeted area in a vascular environment. The award provides Dr. Liu with $404,000 over five years to conduct his research.

Nanoparticles have been widely used in diagnostic imaging and targeted therapeutic applications in recent years. However, one of the major challenges in nanomedicine is to improve particle selectivity and adhesion under complex vascular flow conditions. To deliver nanomedicines directly to the desired diseased tissue while minimizing deposition/uptake by healthy tissues along the way, the design of nanoparticles needs to be considered together with the diseased region’s physical parameters (e.g.; vascular diameter, blood flow rate, surface area, etc.).

“My goal is to uncover the adhesion dynamics of nanoparticles and predict targeted delivery,” said Dr. Liu. “To do this, I’m developing a 3D, multiscale model of nanoparticle transport, dispersion and adhesion dynamics. This model, based on scanned images, will be used to predict particle delivery in vascular networks, ultimately allowing us to evaluate nanomedicine applications throughout a person’s entire body for the first time.”

Dr. Erian Armanios, chair of the department, praised Dr. Liu’s accomplishment. “This award, being the top research grant bestowed upon a young investigator, reflects Professor Liu’s technical excellence and innovation. His research is especially timely as we seek universal health coverage. Improving the efficacy of drug delivery translates to lower costs and ultimately a healthier nation.”

Results of this work will pave the way toward new nanomedicine designs and provide physicians with guidelines for dosages for targeted drug delivery.

A separate but complementary feature of the project is an interdisciplinary educational outreach program to be used in graduate and undergraduate courses and engineering summer camps. An interactive website hosting graduate students’ research projects will be created to allow high-school students to learn bio-nanotechnology developments and applications online. This will increase the awareness among high school teachers and students of the potential biomedical applications of nanotechnology, advance understanding of nano-bio interface phenomena for students at all levels, and increase minority participation in science and engineering programs.

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