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Release: Dec. 14, 2001

Engineering, Medicine collaborate on $1.4 million research projects

Victor G. J. Rodgers, associate professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, and his UI College of Medicine colleagues have won three grants totaling more than $1.4 million for a variety of research projects.

In collaboration with Garry Buettner, professor and assistant director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Graduate Program in the department of radiation oncology and project principal investigator, Rodgers is working on a four-year, $872,129 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of the project is to determine whether vitamin E or nitric oxide is more effective as a chain-breaking antioxidant in cellular membranes. The research will include the development of mathematical models, with the computational results to be compared to experimental results in order to gain a better understanding of biological processes.

In a second research project, Rodgers is working with Dr. Stephen K. Hunter and Dr. Baoli Yang, both assistant professors in the department of obstetrics and gynecology, on a $215,800 NIH grant. The purpose is to determine the effectiveness of genetically altering beta cells to improve their insulin productivity in low-oxygen environments. The project is part of a long-term collaborative effort to develop an artificial pancreas for use in diabetic pregnancy, a leading cause of birth defects.

A third project, this one a $357,285 National Science Foundation grant for collaborative work with Andrew Zydney, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware, focuses on the development of a novel membrane separation process. The goal is to find a process combining transmembrane pressure pulsing with electrostatic forces to improve protein separations. Successful use of this technology could one day lead to the production of new therapeutic proteins and nutraceuticals based upon such natural sources as milk and blood plasma.