Biomedical and Bioengineering

Home / Biomedical and Bioengineering

Biomedical and Bioengineering

Biomedical research (BIO) is the broad area of science that looks for ways to prevent and treat diseases that cause illness and death in people and in animals. This general field of research includes many areas of both the life and physical sciences.  Utilizing biotechnology techniques, biomedical researchers study biological processes and diseases with the ultimate goal of developing effective treatments and cures. Biomedical research is an evolutionary process requiring careful experimentation by many scientists, including biologists and chemists. Discovery of new medicines and therapies requires careful scientific experimentation, development, and evaluation.

Featured Projects: Biomedical and Bioengineering

Center for FDA and Industry Collaboration

Investigator: Raymond Woosley

Institution: Critical Path Institute

Program: SRG

Award: $8,998,676   Term: 48 Months

Life-saving medicines often take many years to be tested and come to market. Working with Sanofi-Aventis, Merck, and many others, scientists started a unique collaboration between regulatory agencies and drug manufacturers for the safe acceleration of the medical pipeline, making Arizona the center of this unprecedented endeavor.

Early Warning Technology for Skin Cancer Detection

Investigator: Clara Curiel

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: BIO, SRG

Award: $545,000   Term: 24 Months

By taking advantage of state-of-the-art imaging technology developed by Raytheon for military applications, earlier detection of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. is now emerging from work at the University of Arizona.

Exercise and Bone Development in Young Girls

Investigator: Scott Going

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $258,150   Term: 36 Months

Bone loss in menopausal women is a major public health concern in Arizona with a large aging population. Arizona scientists, who have been very successful in bringing significant federal dollars as a result, demonstrate the link between physical activity and bone density in women clearly through research.

Research Projects: Biomedical and Bioengineering

Role of Alpha3Beta4 Nicotinic Receptors in the Anti-Addictive Action of Novel Ibogaine Analogs

Investigator: Hugo Arias

Institution: Midwestern University

Program: CAA

Award: $109,000   Term: 18 Months

Learning and memory are higher brain functions which are still poorly understood. Interestingly, some of the brain networks involved also play a role in addiction, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease; therefore Arizona scientists are studying where the keys to these pathways are in the brain, so we may come up with more specific and elegant therapies with fewer side effects for these disorders.

Commercialization of Norovirus Vaccine Technology in an Arizona Spin-off Company

Investigator: Charles Arntzen

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SBC

Award: $500,000   Term: 18 Months

Plant biotechnology is a fast growing scientific area in Arizona because it can enhance food quality and value, and produce valuable medicines and oral vaccines in pharmaceutical concentrations. The newly created company Vaxx, Inc. will produce such a vaccine against noroviruses that causes foodborne illnesses of great economic importance.

High Definition Clonal Analyses of Cutaneous Melanoma

Investigator: Michael Barrett

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $100,000   Term: 15 Months

Melanoma is the 6th most common cancer nationally, and 1st most common in women ages 20-29, with significantly higher incidence rates in sunny climates like Arizona. University scientists are improving gene expression analysis in melanoma tumors in order to design more effective, individualized treatments.

Motor Primitives in Voluntary Frog Behavior: Neural and Mechanical Bases

Investigator: Kiisa Nishikawa

Institution: Northern Arizona University

Program: CAA

Award: $143,024   Term: 15 Months

AZ is a major hub in the area of motor skill research. Current studies on how the nervous system controls complex voluntary movements and coordination address the needs of veterans and of the general disabled population for better and more functional limb replacement options.

The Infant Immune Study: Investigations into Immunologic, Genetic and Exposure-Related Pathways to Childhood Asthma

Investigator: Anne Wright

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $400,000   Term: 15 Months

The prevalence of childhood asthma, a debilitating and life-threatening chronic disease, is among the nation’s highest in Arizona. University scientists will determine the environmental and personal factors that determine the onset of asthma in young children to help prevent it.

Respiratory and Immune Stress in Heart Disease

Investigator: Steve Newfeld

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $243,000   Term: 18 Months

In infants, even repaired congenital heart defects can continue to cause life-threatening lung and immune diseases. AZ scientists are studying how these diseases come about and progress in an effort to achieve earlier diagnosis and have more treatment options.

Dendritic Hydrogel Actuators for Disposable Infusion Pumps

Investigator: Dominic McGrath

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SBC

Award: $207,936   Term: 18 Months

Scientists will collaborate with Medipacs, a Tucson-based company, to develop a new material which will help lower the costs to manufacture a digital medical pump, device used in a wide range of medical applications. With over 1 million drug infusions performed daily in the US this is a very large potential market with considerable upside for an Arizona company.

Allelic Expression Imbalance in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

Investigator: Vinodh Narayanan

Institution: Barrow Neurological Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $35,530   Term: 12 Months

Tuberous sclerosis is a devastating inherited disease causing multiple tumors in the brain, skin, and vital organs, resulting in severe learning disabilities, disfigurement, and often very poor health. AZ scientists are making headways in understanding what causes the range in severity of the symptoms, a fundamental question that remains unanswered.

Development of Next-generation HPV Vaccines: A Collaboration Between ASU and Arizona based Vironics, Inc.

Investigator: Hugh Mason

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $100,000   Term: 15 Months

Human papillomavirus (HPV), often contracted early in adulthood, is one leading cause of cervical cancer in women. University scientists, in partnership with Virionics Corporation in Scottsdale, are using plants to produce edible HPV vaccines, reducing the costs and making vaccination safer in developing countries.

Functional Genomics of Host Shift in Drosphila Mojavensis

Investigator: Therese Markow

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $148,326   Term: 17 Months

How certain species adapt and even strive in very hostile environments is still a mystery and gaining this understanding has important applications for pest control and prevention of antibiotics resistance, both great public health concerns in Arizona. For this purpose, scientists look at gene expression in Drosophila flies.

Optimizing Power Output from Light Sources to Human Perception

Investigator: Stephen Macknik

Institution: Barrow Neurological Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $100,000   Term: 12 Months

If we know how the brain processes light emitted from computers, TV, and artificial light, we can use this information to improve productivity at work and optimize the energy use of artificial lighting. This research by university scientists can result in 600% energy savings, without fundamentally changing the underlying technology.

The Neural Mechanisms Underlying Flicker Fusion

Investigator: Stephen Macknik

Institution: Barrow Neurological Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $121,514   Term: 12 Months

What we call the ‘flicker illusion’ allows us to enjoy movies and television because our brain tricks us into thinking that a series of separate images is actually continuous. University scientists are studying these brain signals to improve the televisions and computers and decrease visual fatigue after prolonged use.

Inflammation, AB and Angiogenesis

Investigator: Lih-Fen Lue

Institution: Sun Health Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $165,000   Term: 18 Months

Since cardiovascular disease is an important risk factor for the progressive loss of brain function in Alzheimer’s disease patients, Arizona scientists are studying how plaque in blood vessels is preventing degradation and removal of harmful products of metabolism and how this could cause brain loss in Arizona aging population.

Fetal Endocrine Pancreas Adaptations to Gestational Diabetes

Investigator: Sean Limesand

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $100,000   Term: 12 Months

Newborns of pregnant mothers with diabetes are at greater risk for developing the disease in infancy, but the mechanisms of this outcome in the fetus are not known. Working with animal models, AZ scientists are able to artificially recreate the disease so we can improve our understanding and find solutions.

ExpO Completion and ExpO Pro' - Expression Project for Oncology (expO) completion of public cancer database with patient outcome data and addition of program to collect and preserve cancer progenitor cell (expO Pro)

Investigator: Robert Penny

Institution: International Genomics Consortium

Program: SRG

Award: $2,000,000   Term: 24 Months

Gene malfunctions are keys to many cancers and other complex diseases and therefore comparing genes in normal and diseased tissues can lead to important medical discoveries. An unprecedented repository for such tissues with relevant clinical information is being built in Arizona, helping doctors worldwide make individualized treatment decisions for patients.

Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease in Alzheimer's Dementia

Investigator: Alex Roher

Institution: Sun Health Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $165,000   Term: 18 Months

Dr. Roher studies the role of cardiovacular disease in the onset and progression of Alzheimer Disease (AD). In particular, how artherosclerosis prevents brain tissue from degrading or getting rid of the metabolic byproducts which in large quantities cause AD and dementia.

Regulation of Autoimmunity by IL-4 Through Suppression of IL-17

Investigator: Sujata Sarkar

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $108,231   Term: 12 Months

Our immune system should only respond to real insults and with just the right amount, too little resulting in infections and cancer, and too much in allergies and diseases like lupus. AZ scientists are bringing new understanding to these increasingly common conditions for which we still lack effective therapies.

Center for FDA and Industry Collaboration

Investigator: Raymond Woosley

Institution: Critical Path Institute

Program: SRG

Award: $8,998,676   Term: 48 Months

Life-saving medicines often take many years to be tested and come to market. Working with Sanofi-Aventis, Merck, and many others, scientists started a unique collaboration between regulatory agencies and drug manufacturers for the safe acceleration of the medical pipeline, making Arizona the center of this unprecedented endeavor.

Diagnostics for Targeted Therapy

Investigator: Raymond Woosley

Institution: Critical Path Institute

Program: SRG

Award: $2,160,791   Term: 42 Months

United States Diagnostic Standards (USDS), like UL for electrical devices, will offer companies improved chances of FDA approval as well as a seal of approval for marketing, makes it likely that every company marketing medical tests will come to USDS, creating high paying jobs and spawn new companies in Arizona.

Factor Binding Dynamics on Promoters

Investigator: Neal Woodbury

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $234,279   Term: 18 Months

Genes are the blueprints needed by cells to make proteins, and special tiny proteins, called ‘transcription factors’, bind to genes to start or stop this process. Arizona scientists are studying transcription factors to understand diseases like cancer, which is when genes and cells do not respond to these signals correctly.

Interactions of Human Brain Vascular and Glial Cells

Investigator: Douglas Walker

Institution: Sun Health Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $165,000   Term: 15 Months

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are unsolved tragedies, which will become increasingly common, particularly in Arizona with its large senior population. By studying how immune cells in brain tissue can fight the inflammation that contributes to these diseases, Arizona scientists have gained national recognition and leveraged significant federal and industry dollars.

Kinase Signaling in Prostate Cancer

Investigator: Richard Vaillancourt

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $98,895   Term: 12 Months

Even with the advances of modern medicine, the molecular mechanism responsible for prostate cancer is still poorly defined. However, university scientists have found a protein in the prostate that could cause cancer when malfunctioning, opening the door for a new level of understanding and therapy of the disease.

Angiogenesis and the Extracellular Matrix

Investigator: Urs Utzinger

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $77,829   Term: 12 Months

Small blood vessels play a critical role in tissue regeneration because they are the ones bringing nutrients necessary for repair. Therefore these vessels interact with these tissues in very complex two-way communications which AZ scientists are studying closely to help accident victims and veterans recover faster and more fully.

Advanced Intravital Microscope

Investigator: Urs Utzinger

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $45,752   Term: 12 Months

New cutting-edge microscopes developed in Arizona are allowing scientists to see processes as they happen in live cells or even live animals, leading to unprecedented medical and scientific insights. The new technology provides key data to many investigators making them more successful in obtaining new federal funding.

Non-Invasive Monitoring of NPC Disease Progression and Therapy

Investigator: Theodore Trouard

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $48,250   Term: 18 Months

Scientists are developing new ways to look at the brain without pain or invasive exams.  This technology will transform how disorders such as Alzheimer’s diseases, which are increasingly common in an aging Arizona population, are diagnosed and will lead to earlier detection and intervention.

Targeting the Fn14-Racl Signaling in Invasive Gliomas

Investigator: Nhan Tran

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $185,625   Term: 12 Months

The passing of Ted Kennedy brought renewed attention to malignant gliomas, a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer lacking a specific treatment. By focusing on how these tumors spread outside of the brain, AZ scientists are finding more effective therapies to slow the progression of this devastating disease.

Toxin Regulation in a Mushroom Pathogen

Investigator: Valerie Stout

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $60,057   Term: 12 Months

By studying how environment can have a strong effect on the virulence of dangerous pathogens, we can gain knowledge that is readily applicable to crop production in Arizona. University scientists are using the mushroom as a model because it can get infected with organisms that also affect citrus and cotton.

Biofilm-Specific, Genetically Regulated Host Immunoavoidance

Investigator: Jeff Leid

Institution: Northern Arizona University

Program: CAA

Award: $202,100   Term: 15 Months

Dental plaque is a form of chronic infection by microbes which cause cavities, a major public health problem. These microbes are often resistant to antibiotics and to normal human defenses, so university scientists are looking for genes responsible for their hardiness so we can make effective antibiotics against dental plaque.

Hypothesis- Centered Biological Knowledge Bases

Investigator: Pat Langley

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $257,800   Term: 18 Months

By providing scientists computer models that make it possible to test hypotheses without performing lab experiments, one can save them time, money, and in some cases need for animal experimentations. For this purpose, AZ scientists are creating better softwares for their colleagues to find and use critical information easily.

Developing Techniques to Measure the Structural State of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins In-Vivo

Investigator: Matthew Gage

Institution: Northern Arizona University

Program: CAA

Award: $110,947   Term: 18 Months

A new device to monitor events in live cells as they take place is being developed in partnership with Invitrogen. This will help doctors and scientists detect abnormal cells earlier and will lead to better cancer medicines, an important benefit for aging Arizonans and the Arizona economy.

Molecular Diagnostic System for Ultra-rapid Identification of Nuclei Acid Sequences with Single Base Specificity

Investigator: Wayne Frasch

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SBC

Award: $560,847   Term: 39 Months

The startup company, Attrometrics, will develop a new life saving medical device that can rapidly detect very low levels of deadly bacteria for medical use in hospitals and doctors’ offices and detect organisms that could be used as bioterrorism weapons.

Neurofibrillary Tangle-induced Dementia in Alzheimer's Disease

Investigator: Travis Dunckley

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $125,948   Term: 12 Months

Dr. Dunckley and his team are introducing beneficial genetic material in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients to encourage the body to heal itself. This will help scientists slow down the progression of age-related brain and other diseases in this rapidly expanding segment of the Arizona population.

Early Warning Technology for Skin Cancer Detection

Investigator: Clara Curiel

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: BIO, SRG

Award: $545,000   Term: 24 Months

By taking advantage of state-of-the-art imaging technology developed by Raytheon for military applications, earlier detection of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. is now emerging from work at the University of Arizona.

Development of Low-cost, Massively-parallel, All Codon Sequencing Using Next-generation Technologies

Investigator: David Craig

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $100,000   Term: 12 Months

Personalized medicine relies on precise identification of subtle differences between individuals at the genetic level. In order to gain this knowledge, Arizona scientists are working on more efficient and error free methods to sequence genes that will allow these small variations to be known and understood.

A High-throughput Approach to Synthetic Antibodies for Cancer Detection

Investigator: John Chaput

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $225,000   Term: 18 Months

The ability to monitor presence of even very small amounts of abnormal proteins in human blood and saliva would be a great way to screen for certain cancers early. Toward this goal, university scientists are designing highly sensitive artificial antibodies for new assays with great medical and commercial potential.

Advancement of novel high throughput gene synthesis technology

Investigator: Alex Borovkov

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SBC

Award: $442,000   Term: 12 Months

To study hereditary traits, scientists need artificial genetic material, often difficult and expensive to make. A newly created Arizona company, Synbuild, LLC, devised ways to make even very complex genes error-free for a fraction of the cost of the competition, expecting to take a large share of the national market.

In Vivo Vascular Inflammation Effects on AB Handling

Investigator: Thomas Beach

Institution: Sun Health Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $165,000   Term: 18 Months

There is mounting evidence that inflamed blood vessels and cardiovascular disease in general could be major contributors to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Arizona scientists have been exploring this connection to prevent this devastating disease and its growing impact on the economy of Arizona.

Chemical Genomics and Translational Research Center: A Strategic Group

Investigator: David Galbraith

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $3,855,750   Term: 45 Months

Cancer diagnostics should identify patients that will best respond to early life saving treatment. University scientists are collaborating with High Throughput Genomics and Ventana to develop gene assays for this purpose. Ventana Medical plans to create 2,000 jobs in Tucson to keep up with this effort.

Genetically Modified Mouse Models of Intestinal Cancer

Investigator: Eugene Gerner

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $100,000   Term: 12 Months

The early success of studies on obesity and cancers of the digestive track are of growing importance in aging populations and especially so as they leverage significant federal dollars due to medical outcomes of great importance to an aging population.

Collaborative Research: Development, Performance & Evolutionary Implications of Premaxillary Protrusion in Teleosts: A Hierarchial Approach to Understanding Convergent Evolution

Investigator: Alice Gibb

Institution: Northern Arizona University

Program: CAA

Award: $105,896   Term: 15 Months

It is possible to optimize fish production farming, a new area of great economic potential for the state by studying the physiological and anatomical features that stimulate food consumption in fish species important to the growing Arizona aquaculture.

A Resource for Assembling the Timescale of Life

Investigator: Sudir Kumar

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $142,122   Term: 18 Months

By making genetic information about many species freely available, we can promote exchange of ideas between scientists that help them understand what different organisms have in common and why some change over time. AZ scientists created a huge public database, the Timetree of Life, bringing Arizona national and international recognition.

Production of Plant Made BioPharmaceuticals Under Controlled Environments

Investigator: Chieri Kubota

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $46,523   Term: 12 Months

University scientists are inserting genes inside tomato plants to make valuable medicines that will treat many human diseases. This will be the next major commercial development for this industry which has rapidly expanded over the past 10 years, particularly in Arizona which already has world-class Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).

Integrating Genomic Data and Biological Knowledge to Learn Context-Specific Gene Network

Investigator: Seungchan Kim

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $167,000   Term: 18 Months

Genes are constantly given signals to start making proteins, a process that often gets interrupted and restarted resulting in a very complex picture. To achieve a better understanding, AZ scientists are studying how very different molecules relate to one another quantitatively and qualitatively to perform the business of life.

Genomic-based Diagnostics for Coccidioides, the Causative Agent of Valley Fever

Investigator: Paul Keim

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $141,383   Term: 18 Months

Valley fever is one of the most prevalent infections in AZ, yet it is commonly under-diagnosed and mistreated because we lack rapid and accurate diagnostic tools.  University scientists are designing a new test based on presence of genetic material, rather than proteins or antibodies, which will dramatically increase testing sensitivity.

Promoting Plasticity after Spinal Cord Injury using Neuromuscular Stimulation

Investigator: Ranu Jung

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $274,000   Term: 18 Months

Recovery of limb function after spinal cord injury is still a holy grail of modern medicine. By using therapeutic electrical stimulation that retrains patients to ‘feel’ as well as to ‘do’, AZ scientists are making much needed headways to help injured patients, including many of our veterans.

Optimizing Multidimensional Time Series Classification: Spatio Temporal Data Mining in Epileptic Brain Dynamics

Investigator: Leon Iasemidis

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $208,102   Term: 12 Months

Epilepsy, the ‘sacred’ or ‘divine’ disease, is among the most common brain disorders, second only to stroke, and affects approximately 1% of the world’s population. AZ scientists are gathering critical information from brain activity recordings to detect seizures more accurately and most important diagnose susceptibility as well as predict episodes.

Drug targeting of a new class of molecular receptors for treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases

Investigator: Laurence Hurley

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SBC

Award: $498,384   Term: 18 Months

Through the creation of a new company, completely new and much needed anti-cancer drugs will hit this $10B market. The founder of this venture, who has raised over $115 million dollars to start two successful companies outside of the state,  will bring new private investment capital and jobs to Arizona.

GH and IGF-1 Signaling in Islet Beta-Cells

Investigator: Yao Huang

Institution: Barrow Neurological Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $77,000   Term: 12 Months

While we have effective ways to manage diabetes, a major public health concern, we still lack real cures. Consequently, AZ university scientists are studying the complex interplay of hormones that result in malfunction of the pancreas and are seeking new ways to help treat and even prevent this debilitating disease.

Genetic Variation in KIBRA and its Role in Human Episodic Memory

Investigator: Matthew Huentelman

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute

Program: CAA

Award: $258,000   Term: 12 Months

Loss of memory of past life events and their associated emotions is one of the most devastating aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. AZ scientists have found the genetic region responsible for the ability to reminisce which could lead to new therapies to preserve important memories in affected patients.

Exercise and Bone Development in Young Girls

Investigator: Scott Going

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $258,150   Term: 36 Months

Bone loss in menopausal women is a major public health concern in Arizona with a large aging population. Arizona scientists, who have been very successful in bringing significant federal dollars as a result, demonstrate the link between physical activity and bone density in women clearly through research.

Contact Us / Newsletter

Thank you for contacting us. We will respond as soon as we can. -SFAz