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October 2013
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Research Paves Path for Hybrid Nano-Materials That Could Replace Human Tissue or Today's Pills

Brooklyn, New York—A team of researchers has uncovered critical information that could help scientists understand how protein polymers interact with other self-assembling biopolymers. The research helps explain naturally occurring nano-material within cells and could one day lead to engineered bio-composites for drug delivery, artificial tissue, bio-sensing, or cancer diagnosis.

Results of this study, “Bionanocomposites: Differential Effects of Cellulose Nanocrystals on Protein Diblock Copolymers,” were recently published in the American Chemical Society’s BioMacromolecules. The findings were the result of a collaborative research project from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) Montclare Lab for Protein Engineering and Molecular Design under the direction of Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Jin K. Montclare.

Bionanocomposites provide a singular area of research that incorporates biology, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and nanotechnology. Medical researchers believe they hold particular promise because—unlike the materials that build today’s medical implants, for example—they are biodegradable and biocompatible, not subject to rejection by the body’s immune defenses. As biocomposites rarely exist isolated from other substances in nature, scientists do not yet understand how they interact with other materials such as lipids, nucleic acids, or other organic materials and on a molecular level. This study, which explored the ways in which protein polymers interact with another biopolymer, cellulose, provides the key to better understanding how biocomposite materials would interact with the human body for medical applications.

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UW-Madison, WARF: Announce new tech transfer partnership

MADISON - The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) today announced the launch of a major new partnership focused on entrepreneurship on the UW-Madison campus, building on a long legacy of collaboration to move scientific innovation to the marketplace.

In defining, co-funding, and launching D2P - shorthand for Discovery to Product - UW-Madison and WARF seek to more effectively cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship among faculty and students, and better support the formation of new companies, while systematically expanding the number of innovations that reach the market through startups or licensing arrangements with established companies.

"D2P is a big step forward in our support of entrepreneurship among both faculty and students," says UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, explaining that her time at the U.S. Department of Commerce reinforced her belief in universities as the "idea factories" required to keep American companies competitive. "I want to make sure that UW-Madison is on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization."

D2P will be funded initially through a $1.6 million commitment from UW-Madison with matching funds from WARF.

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UWM physicists win prestigious National Science Foundation grant

By Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Physicists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who have been developing three dimensional images of the structure and movement of proteins, won a prestigious National Science Foundation grant Wednesday.

The team, whose work could help drug companies design new medications, will share in a $25 million grant with colleagues at seven other institutions. UWM's share will come to a little less than $4 million over 5 years.

Proteins are crucial to virtually every human action from breathing to thinking and many diseases result from problems with how they are made or how they function.

Six hundred applications were received for grants to establish National Science and Technology Centers. Just three were accepted. In addition to the award made to UWM and its partners grants were given to groups led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"It's like the Olympic Games where there are three medals," said Abbas Ourmazd, a member of the team that won the grant and a distinguished professor of physics and electrical engineering. "It's an objective metric for the league UWM is playing in."

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