Adam Rocker, a second-year PhD candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, has been awarded the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) TL-1 Pre-doctoral Fellowship for his proposed thesis work on developing an injectable polymer delivery system to treat coronary artery disease. One consequence of this disease is a myocardial infarction (MI), better known as a heart attack, which inhibits the flow of blood and vital nutrients to the heart. The current standard of care for MI aims for early reperfusion of the occluded vessels to prevent further cell death using surgical or pharmacological agents. However, biomedical approaches to restore the blood supply, by delivering growth factors locally to promote the formation of new blood vessels, may present a faster and less invasive treatment option, with the essential benefit of inducing cardiac tissue regeneration. Adam will be investigating this tissue engineering approach for treating coronary artery disease under the mentorship of Dr. Daewon Park, an Associate Professor in Bioengineering, and Dr. Luisa Mestroni, a Professor of Medicine in Cardiology. Collaborations by this scientist-physician team and the CCTSI will help develop translational therapies at the basic science level into clinical treatments.
We just wrapped up the first session of our Bioengineering Opportunities and Leadership Training (BOLT) Camp, and it was an amazing week! Students from all over Colorado came to the Anschutz Campus for 4 days packed full of hands-on learning.
BOLT campers did everything from learning to solder, to building optical heart rate monitors, to running tissue engineering experiments. They got to visit the roof of Children’s Hospital to check out the specially engineered pediatric Flight For Life helicopter, and they learned about anatomy and the human body from the Anschutz AHEC Anatomy team. Throughout the week, students heard from clinicians, researchers, students, and faculty on all facets of bioengineering. In between all of this, students prototyped their own engineering solutions to real clinical problems. The whirlwind week of learning and fun ended with design presentations to a panel of judges, camp awards, and an ice cream social.
Students left BOLT with a greater understanding of the field of bioengineering, applicable knowledge and practical lab skills, and hopefully even more passion for STEM than before! Now it’s time for the team to prep for the next group – BOLT Session Two starts in less than a month!
Hassan El-Batal, a junior in the Department of Bioengineering was recently awarded a 2018-2019 Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) mini grant while working in the Magin Lab. The UROP is funded through the Colorado Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI). This research collaboration focuses on the multiple particle tracking (MPT) and he will be programing a user-friendly graphical interface purposed for MPT. This investigation and software design may help overcome limitations of studying mucociliary clearance (MCC) defects in preclinical animal models and answer questions about MCC dysfunction in pulmonary diseases. As part of the award he looks forward to presenting their findings at the Research and Creative Activities Symposium (RaCAS).
The University of Colorado Board of Regents approved tenure appointments for three College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty at their June meeting:
- Cathy Bodine, Department of Bioengineering
- Dana Carpenter, Department of Mechanical Engineering
- Daewon Park, Department of Bioengineering
(left to right: Bodine, Carpenter, Park)
Associate Professor Richard Benninger and his lab recently published a research article in Nature Communications “Contrast-enhanced ultrasound measurement of pancreatic blood flow dynamics predicts type 1 diabetes progression in preclinical models”. Non-invasive techniques to assess the progression of type 1 diabetes prior to clinical onset are needed, both for disease diagnosis and for monitoring the efficacy of therapeutic reversal. The Benninger lab applied a contrast-enhanced ultrasound measurement of mouse pancreatic blood flow to detect changes in the islet microvasculature that undergoes rearrangements during diabetes. These measurements predicted both rapid disease progression as well as the success of therapeutic interventions to reverse disease progression. This study is particularly significant as both the widespread deloyment of ultrasound modalities and the clinical approval of ultrasound contrast agents will facilitate clinical translation for monitoring disease progression in populations at risk for type1 diabetes. This study was primarily supported by funding from the JDRF and NIH, and lead author Josh St Clair was funded by the “Cardiovascular Imaging and Biomechanics” T32 training program and an F32 NRSA postdoctoral fellowship.
Assistive Technology Partners (ATP) is deeply grateful for the ongoing support from the Colorado construction industry’s annual Déjà vu Rendezvous event. Held May 18, 2018, this eleventh event offered a chance to unite past and current members of the Colorado construction community while supporting a worthwhile cause. Proceeds from the event help ATP, housed in the Department of Bioengineering, meet their mission for persons with cognitive, sensory, and/or physical disabilities to reach their highest potential at home, school, work and play through the addition of appropriate assistive technologies to their lives. This year the event hosted 800 guests at Denver’s Mile High Station and brought cumulative donations to more than $2.3M.
The event created by retired Trautman & Shreve CEO, Bill Caile, is sponsored by more than 100 corporations.
Cathy Bodine, executive director of ATP and associate professor of bioengineering, says, “We are so grateful to the local construction companies and our generous sponsors for choosing ATP to benefit from such a wonderful annual event.” Funds will be used to support persons with disabilities, their families and others who are unable to afford services.
“The Déjà-vu event has always been focused on the wonderful people that make up the construction industry in Colorado and the relationships we all have,” says Marc Able, Steering Committee Chair and President, ABLE Consulting Group, LLC.. “It is one night a year where we leave the business at the door and celebrate everyone on a personal level. It is such a fun night and to be able to support the great work ATP does is icing on the cake.”
Matthew Davidson, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr Bodine’s lab, was selected as a delegate for the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Advocacy Training Program. This externship will train Dr. Davidson to be an advocate for the life sciences at the federal and state level. This will provide him the tools to effect policy change and support science funding.
OK Google, I Need My Study Tips
University of Colorado researchers have created on-demand, voice-activated apps to enhance learning and teaching for members of CU Anschutz Medical Campus and CU Denver.
VoxScholar ™ has released its first two apps, CU Study Skills and CU Faculty Development. These apps make it possible for faculty and students to talk to Google Assistant to receive study tips or to get information on faculty development topics.
VoxScholar is an initiative funded by the CU Department of Medicine and was developed by faculty at the CU Anschutz School of Medicine and the CU Denver College of Engineering and Applied Science.
While multiple voice-activated platforms exist, using the Google Assistant platform allows for the creation of higher education apps without extensive and costly infrastructure investment. Students and faculty using the apps can use devices they already own, including cell phones. This approach to academic innovation helps keep higher education affordable, responsive and relevant.
“One goal of the project was to leverage technology everyone had in their pocket – a cell phone – to transform learning,” said Janet Corral, PhD, associate professor of medicine, who leads the project. “Our busy learners and faculty are working in multiple sites: campuses and clinics, homes and offices, in the city and in rural communities. Often, they need just-in-time access to information and cannot wait until the next time they are on campus for face-to-face sessions.”
The VoxScholar apps provide more than other voice-activated apps, which typically offer information on campus meals or laundry services. VoxScholar’s apps focus on academic performance by offering improved study skills or evidence-based teaching advice. For example, students can get timely, practical tips on how to handle multiple choice questions or manage time during an exam. Faculty can get advice on leading small group sessions or improving learner engagement.
Corral is a scholar in the Department of Medicine’s Program for Academic Clinician Educators (PACE), which launched in 2017 and provides grants to support faculty in developing and improving innovative educational programs, and in engaging in educational research to guide how we teach and assess health professions learners.
Suzanne Brandenburg, MD, vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine, said, “Dr. Corral’s innovative work has the potential to transform medical education. I’m delighted that our unique PACE program has provided her the resources, time and mentorship needed to achieve this milestone.”
Corral collaborated with the CU Denver Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science to develop VoxScholar. Assistant Professor Farnoush Banaei-Kashani, PhD, an expert in intelligent and large-scale data-driven systems, along with his PhD student, Javier Pastorino, worked with Corral to develop these apps.
“We have introduced novel ideas based on machine learning and text mining to make the apps smart,” said Banaei-Kashani. “For instance, the apps can capture and use the context of the conversation with the learner or faculty member and personalize the tips it provides accordingly.”
The VoxScholar apps innovate by relying on artificial intelligence. The apps are designed to send specific tips based on the specific student’s needs. Similarly, educators offering lecture-based programming in a classroom setting receive different tips than faculty who teaching in a hospital or other clinical setting.
“The spaces where we work and study are complex, and I wanted the apps to do better than our existing fact-based learning modules and tips sheets. My goal was to create apps that respond just-in-time to what people need, and, furthermore, help coach them to success,” said Corral. Both apps have been developed in consultation with academic leaders, faculty and students. Students and faculty have also beta tested the apps prior to release.
The apps are available for free through the Google Play store, but require an official affiliation with CU Anschutz Medical Campus or CU Denver to access the content. VoxScholar plans to release additional apps throughout the spring and summer as students return to the health professions programs on both campuses.
A team of faculty from the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has received a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM award to support the new Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands (ESIL) program. This is the second NSF award for the program, which is currently enrolling students for fall 2018.
Timberley Roane, associate professor of integrative biology, David Mays, associate professor of civil engineering, and Rafael Moreno, associate professor of geography and environmental sciences, designed the ESIL program with a focus on land stewardship with the additional goal to recruit Indigenous students and prepare them to serve as liaisons for their tribes and organizations. Two-thirds of the S-STEM grant is earmarked for scholarships, giving full-time undergraduate students in biology, civil engineering, or environmental sciences up to $10,000 per year for up to five years, depending on their financial need.
“There are many examples, such as the Gold King Mine spill of 2015 or the Standing Rock pipeline dispute of 2016–2017, where questions of environmental stewardship have played out in the context of Indigenous lands,” said Mays, explaining that Indigenous is inclusive of Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians. Mays continued, “Professor Roane recognized the profound need for a new kind of educational program that would train students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) but also provide the nontechnical skills needed to serve as a liaison between tribal, state and federal organizations. We call it the Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands, or ESIL, program.”
These three co-PIs have teamed up with CU Denver’s American Indian Student Services, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and The Evaluation Center, plus external partners representing numerous tribal, state and federal organizations. At the first ESIL Partners Meeting on Friday 4/6/2018, Roane emphasized a key point that makes this program unique—The simple notion that CU Denver does not own the ESIL program, but rather provides the infrastructure for a collaboration in which each partner’s perspective, insight, and contribution is essential for the program to be successful.
ESIL students are required to meet the requirements of their home department plus those of the ESIL certificate program, which ensures that all ESIL students have a common core in STEM, social science, cultural diversity, and cross-cultural communication. Through careful curriculum planning, this program does not require CU Denver to support any new courses and does not require ESIL students in civil engineering, biology, or environmental sciences to take additional credit hours for graduation, because all the ESIL courses that are not major requirements can be taken as electives. A key feature of the program, in addition to a traditional four-year STEM degree, is participation in training and internships designed to provide background with nontechnical matters such as cultural awareness, cross-cultural communication, environmental regulations and organizational dynamics. Additionally, this educational program is designed to support recruitment of Indigenous students.
“But not just recruitment,” Roane added. “We plan to guide our students through every step of the process, from applying to CU Denver, through logistical advice on moving to Denver (if necessary), through major advising, internships, and landing their first professional engagement after leaving CU Denver.”
The focus on land stewardship has been selected not only because it demands the expertise of STEM professionals but also because land stewardship is among the top motivations for Indigenous students considering STEM careers.
“If you know a student who might be interested in this program, or if you represent an organization that might be interested in partnering with the ESIL program (perhaps providing internships or extracurricular support to ESIL students), by all means please let us know,” said Mays.
In 2017, the team also received an award of nearly $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to support the ESIL program. This award is one of 27 design and development launch pilots in the second round of NSF’s program for Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES).
ESIL partners include (top row) Rosa Burnett, Harmony Spoonhunter, Susan Johnson, Ryan Ortiz, Kim Varilek, (bottom row) David Mays, Timberley Roane, Rafael Moreno, and Scott Aikin.
Grace RedShirt Tyon and Chelsea Situmeang at the ESIL Partners Meeting (Friday 4/6/2018).
A medical device company founded by two University of Colorado Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus professors was recently acquired by Stryker, one of the world’s leading medical technology companies.
Dr. Omer Mei-Dan, a sports surgeon and associate professor of orthopedics at the CU School of Medicine and Dr. Robin Shandas, chair of bioengineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus collaborated on the Pivot Guardian, the industry’s first post-free hip distraction system, designed to mitigate groin complications and heel slip associated with hip arthroscopy.
Working with Dr. Jacob Segil, Instructor in Engineering Plus at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Brett Schumer, an orthopedic device consultant, Drs. Mei-Dan and Shandas created MITA LLC to bring Dr. Mei-Dan’s novel hip distraction technique to market. The terms of the sale were not disclosed.
The acquisition shows the impact of pairing clinical faculty with bioengineers to bring promising ideas to market. The total time between initial discussions and company exit was less than two years.
“The fact that our Bioengineering Department is located on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus really facilitates such multi-disciplinary interactions,” said Professor Shandas, founding chair of the department who has co-founded several other companies with clinical faculty. “We built a technical team very quickly to execute on Dr. Mei-Dan’s vision to help his patients, while at the same time building the startup company to carry the idea into commercial reality.”
Dr. Mei-Dan agreed.
“Having biomedical engineers as in-house partners who can quickly understand the clinical need, assemble a business-savvy technical team, and iterate through multiple prototypes efficiently is a huge great asset we have here on campus,” he said. “This great success gives me much confidence for future endeavors.”
About the Department of Bioengineering, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus
The Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus performs interdisciplinary research and training at undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels in bioengineering, focused on catalyzing technology development to cure and prevent disease. One of the few cross-campus programs in Colorado, Bioengineering also partners with clinicians and entrepreneurs to bring products to market efficiently and quickly. More information is available at http://www.ucdenver.edu/bioengineering
About Sports Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine
The CU Sports Medicine division treats competitive and recreational athletes of all types and ages across the Colorado Front Range, encompassing care for hip, knee, hand, foot & ankle, elbow & shoulder, and spine. CU Sports Medicine physicians lead their field performing groundbreaking procedures including stem cell therapies, orthobiologics, innovative devices and clinical trials. They are also the head team physicians for the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Mammoth as well as NCAA teams at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver.