School of Engineering
Thomas Attard, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, is using highly specialized equipment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to explore new variations in a variety of polymer matrix composites.
Attard and a team of researchers (see sidebar) have received two in-kind support grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) User program to run experiments at Oak Ridge’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS). The team is utilizing the facility’s dynamic mechanical analyzer (DMA) and nano-infrared equipment (Nano-IR) to study on a nanoscale how manipulating the chemistries, diffusity, and thermodynamic equilibrium of epoxy can change the properties of an interfacial reaction with polyurea. One of the applications of this discovery is to carbon-fiber technology. The DOE estimates the global market for carbon-fiber technology to grow to $25.2 billion by 2020, representing a continued annual growth rate of 15.3 percent and a global value demand of 210,000 metric tons.
Overexpression of Cell-Cycle Activator Gene Enhances Repair of Dead Heart Muscle
Researchers in the Department of Biomedical Engineering report a significant advance in efforts to repair a damaged heart after a heart attack, using grafted heart-muscle cells to create a repair patch. The key was overexpressing a gene that activates the cell-cycle of the grafted muscle cells, so they grow and divide more than control grafted cells.
Up to now, an extremely low amount of engraftment of cardiomyocytes has been a stumbling block in hopes to use grafted cells to repair hearts after a heart attack. Without the successful repair that a graft could potentially offer, the damaged heart is prone to later heart failure and patient death.
In experiments in a mouse model, UAB researchers showed that gene overexpression of the cell-cycle activator CCND2 increased the proliferation of grafted cardiomyocytes. This led to increased remuscularization of the heart at the dead-tissue site of the heart attack, a larger graft size, improved cardiac function and decreased size of the dead tissue, or infarct.
Besides regenerating muscle, the grafted cells also increased new blood vessel formation at the border zone of the infarct, apparently through increased activation of the paracrine mechanism. The UAB team used cardiomyocytes that were derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells, as they work toward a goal of eventual clinical treatment for human heart attack patients.
This UAB study, published online in Circulation Research, is led by Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., chair and professor of the UAB Department of Biomedical Engineering and holder of the T. Michael and Gillian Goodrich Endowed Chair of Engineering Leadership.
Read more from UAB News
The UAB Engineering and Innovative Technology Development (EITD) research group was recently announced as a partner in a $500-million contract issued from NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) Program Office.
The Research, Engineering, and Mission Integration (REMIS) contract was awarded to Teledyne Brown Engineering (TBE) with EITD listed as a partner on the project. “This is similar to some other contracts we’ve had in that NASA will issue task order requests, and we will submit proposals for the tasks that fit our areas of expertise,” said Lee Moradi, EITD director and professor of mechanical engineering. “The funding that comes to UAB will depend on which jobs our team is included on over the length of the contract, which is five years with a two-year option.”
REMIS is an IDIQ (Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity) contract and has a total of 16 contractors competing on the upcoming delivery orders.
While EITD is just one part of a larger team included in the contract, the likelihood that projects will come to UAB is high. EITD already has several contracts for ISS-related projects, including design and maintenance of a series of transportable freezer units, design of a permanent orbiting set of freezer units, and development of technology for rapid-freezing of scientific samples in orbit.
SOE Professor Says Drones Have Potential to Find Flaws in Aging Bridges
Nasim Uddin, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, is using a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to explore ways to make America's bridges safer.
His plan includes high-tech sensors and data-collecting drones that could exponentially increase the efficiency of bridge inspections.
Read more at The Mix