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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Bioengineer Receives Prestigious NSF Research Grant

April 29, 2010

University of Texas at Arlington Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Jian Yang has been awarded a National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) grant, presented to young faculty members who have exhibited greater potential to become leaders in their fields. The grant will provide Dr. Yang with $500,000 over five years to conduct research and develop a new education model for introducing college-level fundamentals into high schools.

This is the ninth time in five years that a UT Arlington College of Engineering faculty member has received an NSF CAREER grant.

Dr. Yang, using an earlier grant from the National Institutes of Health, developed biodegradable photoluminescent polymers that open new avenues in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases through improved biological labeling and imaging. The CAREER grant will enable him to continue to refine and expand the uses of these polymers.

One current use of the polymers is as a safe imaging agent for targeted cancer drug delivery. Future uses could apply biodegradable fluorescent polymers in a broad spectrum of biomedical applications, including biological labeling and imaging, and tissue engineering. Right now, Dr. Yang wants to understand the intriguing photoluminescence mechanism of the novel biomaterials, investigate a methodology for expanding the family of biodegradable photoluminescent materials and study the biocompatibility of the materials in the human body. He has been contacted by some major companies in the field for potential product development.

One important aspect of the grant will allow Dr. Yang to train local high school teachers in biomaterial and drug delivery/tissue engineering principles and techniques so that they can integrate these into their science curriculums. “We need to better prepare these students for the rigors of college programs,” he said, “and I believe that these teachers have a better feel for the students’ needs and capabilities.”

In developing this educational model, Dr. Yang will hire a doctoral student and pay a stipend to a teacher to participate in research activities this summer.

The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Engineering, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, has emerged as one of the most comprehensive engineering programs in North Texas and the nation. The college’s eight baccalaureate, 12 master’s and nine doctoral degree programs serve approximately 3,900 students, making it the fourth largest engineering college in Texas. With more than 21,000 alumni, the college provides the local, regional and national workforce with motivated and highly skilled graduates. Research expenditures in the past year grew to more than $40 million, and the University will invest $160 million to add 295,000 square feet of facilities in the next three years. With a commitment to creating viable solutions to today’s most pressing problems, the College of Engineering is helping to propel UT Arlington toward its goal of becoming a national research university.