FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2006
COLLEGE PARK, Md.—The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation will give more than $1 million over four years to the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering for bioengineering research on the nanoscale.
A cross-disciplinary group of researchers associated with the Clark School is developing a new "biochip" technology that promises to give doctors a new way to discover drugs to treat bacterial infections
—without stimulating resistance-building mutations.
The Deutsch Foundation, based in Baltimore, is funding the work in the hope of speeding development of new life-saving drugs and advancing the new field of nano-biotechnology.
"We are very excited and pleased to support this pioneering research, which represents the enormous potential in the merging of biology and nanotechnology," says Robert W. Deutsch, foundation president. "We believe that practical applications of this research could become the source of future innovations."
Deutsch will participate in an agreement-signing ceremony at the Clark School's Kim Engineering Building later today.
Controlling Biology at the Nanoscale: Next Generation BioChips for Drug Discovery
Anthrax, tuberculosis, meningitis and pneumonia are all caused by bacteria and treated through the use of antibiotics. But bacteria can mutate, and develop resistance to the antibiotics—even to vancomycin, the most potent antibiotic currently available to doctors.
University of Maryland researchers—from the Clark School and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in College Park and the School of Pharmacy in Baltimore—are developing a nanoscale, microfluidic biochip that can serve as a tiny drug discovery laboratory. The chip can, in effect, serve as a miniature test subject—accepting a drug and reporting back on how it performs.
The Deutsch Foundation is funding a specific biochip research program designed to complete the group's work and demonstrate its usefulness. The program will investigate biochips that address quorum-sensing bacteria, or bacteria that gather in an area of the body and signal each other until there are enough bacteria gathered to mount an attack. If a drug is found that can block the bacteria from signaling each other, the attack can be prevented.
The biochip can be used as a testbed for such drugs—drugs that the bacteria won't be able to develop a resistance to, unlike antibiotics. Success for this application could have widespread implications for testing drugs for a wide range of health problems.
Institute for Systems Research:
University of Maryland School of Pharmacy: www.pharmacy.umaryland.edu/
Fischell Department of Bioengineering:
University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute:
"Chitosan-mediated in situ biomolecule assembly in completely packaged microfluidic devices":
About the A. James Clark School of Engineering
The Clark School of Engineering, situated on the rolling, 1,500-acre University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md., is one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S.
The Clark School's graduate programs are collectively the fastest rising in the nation. In U.S. News & World Report's annual rating of graduate programs, the school is 15th among public and private programs nationally, 9th among public programs nationally and first among public programs in the mid-Atlantic region. The School offers 13 graduate programs and 12 undergraduate programs, including two degree programs tailored for working professionals and one certification program.
The school is home to one of the most vibrant research programs in the country. With major emphasis in key areas such as communications and networking, nanotechnology, bioengineering, reliability engineering, project management, intelligent transportation systems and space robotics, as well as electronic packaging and smart small systems and materials, the Clark School is leading the way toward the next generations of advanced engineering technology.
Visit the Clark School homepage at www.eng.umd.edu.
About the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation
Established in 1991, the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation provides multi-year research and capacity-building support to technology programs in Maryland colleges and universities. Previous grants have supported the establishment of a campus-wide technology network at Goucher College, enrollment and facilities growth in the School of Information Arts and Technologies at the University of Baltimore, the establishment of the Center for Applied Information Technology at Towson University, and staff and support for the Imaging Research Center at UMBC.