Inside New Jersey recently named NJIT’s Biomedical Engineering Department one of the 12 brainy places in New Jersey. The magazine is a publication of The Star-Ledger newspaper. Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, Department of Mathematical and Algorithmic Sciences (Murray Hill), Coriell Institute for Medical Research Genotyping and Microarray Center (Camden) and Institute for Advanced Study, School of Natural Sciences (Princeton) numbered among the brainy highlights also named. The Ledger’s Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter Amy Ellis-Nutt, who wrote the article, noted that New Jersey has been ranked one of the top five “smartest” states in America for the past decade.Why NJIT? “The Institute’s research spans developing biomaterials for medical use from corn derivatives to the invention of a new optical imaging instrument for early detection of skin cancer and computer-based virtual reality programs to help stroke patients regain mobility,” Nutt wrote. The accolades refer to the work of three notable NJIT professors associated with this department.
In 2009, NJIT Research Professor Michael Jaffe, an expert in materials science and high performance polymers, was awarded a patent with members of his research team (#7,619,056, issued 11/17/2009) for a chemical derived from sugar. The new material used a corn byproduct, isosorbide, to create a derivative that can be used to replace bisphenol A (BPA) in epoxy resins. Such resins are used in a number of adhesives and coatings of consumer products, including those used in the lining of tin cans. The researchers recently received another patent (#7,947,785, issued 5/24/2011) to complement the earlier one.
“The new patent will help create a less toxic epoxy resin,” said Jaffe. Such resins are polymers widely used as adhesives, paints and coatings to protect food in cans.
Jaffe and his research team have been developing sugar-based materials in conjunction with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board in an effort to promote and create new, commercially attractive, sustainable chemistries from wider uses of corn. This new sugar derivative can be obtained from corn. Prior to joining NJIT in 1998, Jaffe was a research fellow with Hoechst Celanese, which he joined upon completion of his doctorate in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1967. For more information about Jaffe, please visit http://www.njit.edu/news/experts/jaffe.php.
NJIT Distinguished Professor Atam Dhawan, an electrical engineer and dean of the NJIT Albert Dorman Honors College distinguished professor of electrical was selected to represent the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society as a 2012-2013 Distinguished Lecturer to travel worldwide providing lectures about advances today in medicine and technology. In December, he was a special guest lecturer at Cornell University.
Dhawan is best known among engineering peers as the inventor of an important innovation for an instrument commonly used to detect skin cancer--the nevoscope. The optical transillumination technology developed by Dhawan was also commercialized into a line of vein visualization products, Veinlite.
Currently, Dhawan is involved in the development of a multi-spectral optical and near-infrared tissue imaging technology to measure and monitor glucose levels in the blood non-invasively without painful pricking to get a drop of blood as required by conventional glucose monitors. For more information about Atam Dhawan, please visit http://www.njit.edu/news/experts/dhawan.php.
NJIT Associate Professor Sergei Adamovich, PhD, a physicist by education, began studying how the brain controls hand and arm function because of an underlying interest in the basic research principles of brain and body movement, planning and execution. Several years ago, he moved into applied research. “We believe that motor control and learning are important when trying to understand rehabilitation,” he said. “Neuroscience has demonstrated through animal studies that you can induce changes in adult brain networks through intensive stimulation and sensory motor training. And, thanks to the recent changes in technology—especially the availability of robots—this whole area of neuro-rehabilitation has taken off.”
Last February, The Journal of the American Medical Society (“News and Views,” Jan. 19, 2011) featured research by Adamovich and his partners at the University of Medicine and Dentistry last February. The researchers have developed innovative robotic and virtual reality-based video game therapies to help stroke patients regain use of hands and arms.
The JAMA article reported that the team’s efforts are making headway. Twenty-four patients who completed the program reported improvements completing daily tasks. One patient reported cutting strawberries with both hands without realizing it, something she had previously been unable to do. A $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) supported the research. For more information, please visit: http://www.njit.edu/news/2011/2011-024.php.