12 UCLA research teams receive CNSI grants to

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image: UCLA research teams are accelerating progress in areas ranging from cancer treatment to clean energy
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Credit: CNSI/UCLA

Nanomedicine

Project title: Development of a wireless pacing depth electrode for monitoring invasive seizures in epileptic patients

Investigators: Ausaf Bari; Aydin Babakhani; Inna Keselman

  • Ausaf Bari, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, leads a multidisciplinary collaboration to better understand and treat epilepsy. He and his colleagues are developing an implantable electrode to wirelessly monitor and stimulate the brains of people with severe seizure disorders. The device tackles a significant hurdle for current treatment approaches: locating the part of the brain where seizures originate.

Project title: Targeted sequencing panel to quantify genetic risk for prostate cancer

Investigators): Paul Boutros

  • Paul Boutros, professor of human genetics and urology, is advancing technology that could lead to a comprehensive, rapid and inexpensive genetic test that predicts which cases of prostate cancer will be aggressive, a current challenge in treatment of the disease. The central idea is to combine all existing genetic evaluations for prostate cancer into a single test.

Project title: Discovery of functional T-cell receptors targeting prostatic acid phosphatase using nanovial technology

Investigators: Dino DiCarlo; Owen Witte

  • A team focused on advancing prostate cancer treatment approaches that use engineered immune system T cells is led by Dino Di Carlo, Armond Professor of Engineering and Medicine, and Elena Hairapetian. By applying its technology to sort individual cells and capture their secretions, researchers are developing a method to rapidly screen T cells for their ability to target a specific protein to prostate tumor cells.

Project title: Minimally invasive bioanalytical wearable technology for personalized therapies

Investigators: Sam Emaminejad; Benjamin Wu

  • Sam Emaminejad, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is leading an effort to create inexpensive wearable sensors for precise drug dosing. The devices are designed to painlessly measure compound levels in the body from the fluid that fills the spaces between cells and communicate the results wirelessly. Surveillance of this type for patients who have been prescribed antibiotics has the potential to reduce both harmful side effects and drug resistance in microbes.

Project title: AI-based fabrication of lab-grown human brain tissue for the study of neurological diseases

Investigators: Neil Lin; Bennet Novitch; Cho-jui Hsieh

  • Neil Lin, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and bioengineering, leads a collaboration to advance research on neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and brain cancer. Researchers are using artificial intelligence to help brain organoids, lab-grown tissues used to study these conditions, better mimic processes in the real human brain.

Project title: Chemoselective Radiolabeling with an Organometallic Gold(III) Complex for Noninvasive PET Imaging of CAR-T Cells

Investigators: Jennifer Murphy; Alex Spokoyny; Yvonne Chen

  • Jennifer Murphy, an associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, leads a project designed to improve CAR T cell therapy, an innovative treatment for blood cancers in which a patient’s own cells are reengineered to fight the cancer. It is currently difficult to monitor the persistence of therapeutic cells in the body, a key indicator of treatment success. To address this need, Murphy and his colleagues are working on a technique for tagging cancer-fighting T cells so they can be seen in a PET scan.

Project title: 10ps PET TOF based on quantum dot nanocomposite scintillator

Investigators: Qibing Pei; Arion Chatziioannou

  • A project led by Qibing Pei, professor of materials science and engineering, aims to improve positron emission tomography, commonly known as PET scanning. This imaging technology has health applications such as cancer diagnosis and treatment progress monitoring. Researchers are using nanoscale semiconductor particles called quantum dots on a specialized polymer to dramatically increase the speed and resolution of PET scans.

Project title: Explore the mechanism of transmission of different pathological conformations of a-synuclein by mathematical modeling and high-throughput functional study.

Investigators: Chao Peng; Robert Damoiseau

  • Chao Peng, an assistant professor of neurology, is leading a collaboration examining a specific protein that is misfolded (albeit in different ways) in multiple neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and about half of cases of Alzheimer’s. By combining mathematical modeling with state-of-the-art screening methods, Peng and his colleagues want to create new insights into the different forms this protein can take and how misfolding propagates in the brain. The team’s findings could serve as the basis for new therapies.

Project title: In vitro assays for effective screening of SARS-CoV-2 RdRp-targeting inhibitors

Investigators: Shimon Weiss; Robert Damoiseuax

  • Shimon Weiss, Dean M. Willard Professor of Chemistry, leads a team advancing drug discovery for COVID-19. Researchers are developing molecular screening methods with the aim of producing information about a specific protein that is vital for the reproduction of SARS-CoV-2 and similar viruses – and ultimately to identify ways to disrupt the process.

Sustainability and clean energy technologies

Project title: Approach to the Shockley-Queisser limit in CdTe solar cells with pinless van der Waals contacts

Investigators: Xiangfeng Duan; Justin Caram; Adam Stieg

  • A collaboration to improve solar cell technology is led by Xiangfeng Duan, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. The project takes advantage of van der Waals forces – which control phenomena such as the formation of water droplets with attraction or repulsion between molecules at very short distances – and special quantum-mechanical-based abilities shown by certain “two-dimensional” materials. “atomically thin. With these tools, Duan and his teammates hope to increase the overall efficiency with which solar cells convert sunlight into electricity.

Project title: Airgel-Based Metamaterial Selective Thermal Emitters for Radiative Window Cooling

Investigators: Aaswath Raman; Laurent Pilon; Bruce Dunn; Sarah Tolbert

  • Aaswath Raman, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, leads a team developing technology that could reduce energy consumption in buildings. Windows account for up to 30% of a building’s energy needs for heating and cooling. The researchers’ objective is therefore to produce a gel, combining solid and gas, which could be applied to windows in the form of a thin transparent film and redirect the flow towards the outside. heat to the sky.

Project title: Engineered microbiome with functional biotic-abiotic interface

Investigators: Yu Huang; Jeff Miller; Hong Zhou

  • Yu Huang, a professor of materials science and engineering, leads an interdisciplinary team working on ways to improve the performance of a bacterium, Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, which has shown the ability to produce electrical energy after fed on organic waste and carbon. dioxide. Researchers are re-engineering the bug using silver nanoparticles, hoping to improve this process and make possible microbial fuel cells that generate clean energy.

Research support provided by the Noble Family Innovation Fund will also fund these teams’ access to the advanced imaging, screening, manufacturing and chemical synthesis facilities available at CNSI’s Technology Centers. Any entrepreneurial company resulting from these projects will be able to apply to join Magnify, the CNSI startup incubator.

CNSI will continue its series of webinars in the fall of 2022 to highlight this set of research projects from the Noble Family Innovation Fund. There will be additional calls for proposals in 2023. Those interested in learning more are invited to contact [email protected]

About the California NanoSystems Institute:

Established in 2000 as one of Governor Gray Davis’ Institutes for Science and Innovation in California, the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) is a center for interdisciplinary research, translation and education where scientists from diverse fields find a common goal to meet the great challenges of the 21st century. Based on the campuses of the University of California, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CNSI leverages public and private investment to drive collaborative nanoscience research across disciplines, translate discoveries into knowledge-based commercial enterprises, and train the next generation of scientists and engineers.


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