The first group of internally funded awards to support biomedical engineering research at West Virginia University have been announced. The winners, which include faculty from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and the Health Sciences Center, are being funded through the Byars-Tarnay Endowment in the WVU Foundation. The endowment was established to build biomedical engineering programs for the Statler College with the School of Medicine.

The award winners and their funded research proposals include:

Yong Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical engineering, who will be working to develop a microfluidic blood-brain barrier model for central nervous system pre-clinical investigation. Joining him on the project are Laura Gibson, Ph.D., deputy director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, senior associate vice president for health sciences research and graduate education, and Paul Lockman, Ph.D., chair of the School of Pharmacy Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and associate director for translational research at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. They hope to utilize the model to investigate tumor cell invasion of the CNS and drug delivery into the site.

Leveraging results obtained in a previous initiative, Jeremy Dawson, Ph.D., research assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, will be working to further develop techniques for detection of lung infections caused by the Apsergillus and Burkholderia species. Slawomir Lukomski, Ph.D., Sc.D., associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, serves as co-prinicipal investigator.

Sergiy Yakovenko, Ph.D., assistant professor of human performance and exercise physiology, will lead a team of researchers who plan to develop a series of subject-specific motor tools that will lead to the development of next-generation biomimetic prosthetics. These tools will be used to overcome the disruption of limb muscle activation and coordination for patients dealing with spinal cord injuries, stroke or peripheral damage. Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Center for Neuroscience, Thirimachos Bourlai, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, and Valeriya Gritsenko, Ph.D., assistant professor of human performance and physical therapy, round out the project team.

Nianqiang Wu, Ph.D., professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will utilize lab-on-a-chip technology for the detection of lung cancer biomarkers. The long-term objective of the project is to develop a portable biosensor for multiplexed detection of lung cancer biomarkers in blood. The project team includes Yuxin Liu, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering; William Petros, Pharm.D., professor and Mylan Chair of Pharmacology and interim director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center; and Patrick Ma, M.D., associate professor of medicine and co-leader of the Sara Crile Allen and James Frederick Allen Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program.

The one-year awards come with $50,000 in funding.