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MSOE to Offer BioMolecular Engineering Degree

     Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) will offer a Bachelor of Science degree in BioMolecular Engineering in Fall 2009. MSOE is the first and only university in the state of Wisconsin to offer this degree, which has been made possible through a personal gift of $6 million from Drs. Robert and Patricia Kern and their daughters.

     “Our new BioMolecular Engineering degree is being offered in direct response to industry needs,” said Dr. Hermann Viets, president of MSOE. “BioMolecular Engineers are needed in the biological, health care, food and medical industries, to name a few. The hands-on education and experiences our students receive will make them highly sought-after by employers and graduate schools.”

     “The coming time is the BIOTIME … actually we are already living in it,” said Dr. Gul Afshan, associate professor in the Physics and Chemistry Department and BioMolecular Engineering program architect at MSOE. “BioMolecular Engineers are going to be truly the universal engineers of the future, capable of working all over the world in a wide range of roles and industries.”

     MSOE is creating several new state-of-the-art laboratories, a cell culture facility and other exciting resources for the high-tech Bachelor of Science in BioMolecular Engineering program.

     “We are please to support MSOE’s efforts and be part of this exciting new program,” said Dr. Robert Kern, MSOE Regent.

     BioMolecular Engineers develop new products, processes and techniques, and provide solutions for medical, food, environmental and technical problems. They can find employment in clinical settings, hospitals, government and private sector, research, industry, agriculture, engineering and management positions. BioMolecular Engineers can work in a wide range of organizations, such as those involved in:

·         Biodiagnostic tools (DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes)
·         Biopharmaceuticals and therapeutics
·         Smart drugs development
·         Biochemicals, petrochemicals, cosmetics and textiles
·         Epigenetics
·         Food scarcity/droughts, crops and agriculture
·         Bioremediation
·         Biofuels, energy and electronics
·         Biosecurity, biodetection industry management
·         Research and development

    The annual starting salary range for BioMolecular Engineers is $55,000-$60,000. Those with specialized skills like bioinformatics, cell culture or protein design may start in the range of $60,000-$70,000 per year. Having a MSOE degree in BioMolecular Engineering also will prepare students for medical, veterinary and graduate schools at top universities.

The Curriculum and Laboratories

     Students will take courses in the foundation sciences of chemistry, physics and biology. This emphasis of biology, chemistry and engineering at the molecular scale will enable graduates to be involved in product and process development – from the molecular and nano-scales to large-scale processes. In concert, students at MSOE will be educated in the essential BioMolecular Engineering models of design of biomolecules, bioinformatics and thermodynamics essential to solving complex engineering problems.

     Electives may be chosen from areas such as forensics biology, nanotechnology, and biofuels in the future. Graduates will be prepared for careers in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, bioinformatics and other such industries and for graduate, medical, law or business school.

     Students will conduct bench-scale experiments involving the growth and genetic manipulation of cells, measurements on proteins and DNA, engineering of biomolecules such as cutting, joining and amplifying DNA, linking biomolecules to solid surfaces and separating and purifying them. Techniques like biodiagnostics, ultra-fast polymerase chain reaction, point mutation, the bioinformatics for genome and proteome analysis and bioprobing and bioanalysis through atomic force microscope and electron microscope, respectively, also will be taught in the laboratories.

About the Kern Family

     Drs. Robert and Patricia Kern founded Generac Power Systems of Waukesha, Wis. in 1959 out of their garage with one employee, and grew it into a 2,000-person operation with a number of facilities in Wisconsin, the Midwest and overseas. The company produces generators for industrial and consumer markets. The Kerns sold the business in 2006. They are longtime supporters of MSOE and benefactors of MSOE’s scholarship programs. Robert Kern has served the university as a member of the Board of Regents since 1992 and holds an Honorary Doctor of Engineering. Patricia Kern holds an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from MSOE.


MSOE is an independent university with about 2,600 students. MSOE offers 18 bachelor’s degrees and 10 master’s degrees in the engineering, engineering technology, architectural engineering and building construction, computer, business and health-related fields.

JoEllen Burdue
Director of Media Relations, MSOE
1025 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: 414-277-7117
Fax: 414-277-7453

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Researchers at UH Explore use of Fat Cells as Heart Attack Therapy

The Cells, Coupled with a Unique Bioreactor, Shown to Protect and Rehabilitate Damaged Heart Muscles

For those of us trained to read nutrition labels, conventional wisdom tells us that fat isn’t good for the heart. But a team of University of Houston researchers has set out to use fat cells to beef up heart muscles damaged by heart attack – and they’re using an out-of-this-world device to do it.

While associate professor Stanley Kleis and his research team at the Cullen College of Engineering’s department of mechanical engineering aren’t advocating a fried-food free-for-all, they do see the promise of using adipose-derived stromal cells (ADSCs), which are found in fatty tissue, as a therapy for heart attack patients.

When a patient has a heart attack, the heart cells do not get enough oxygen-rich blood, and some of them die, leaving behind damaged tissue. The ADSCs are a bit like stem cells, because they have the potential to develop into different types of cells, and they can produce chemicals that may protect or rejuvenate heart muscles.

Full story.

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Biotech executives’ conference focuses on forming alliances

Posted: Oct. 22, 2008

Waukesha - Wisconsin's biotech movers are celebrating their successes and planning for more.

Already this year, there have been deals that show the value of the state's growing biotech sector.

Hologic Inc. paid $580 million for Madison-based Third Wave Technologies Inc., and Roche Holding AG came back a year after acquiring NimbleGen Systems Inc. for $272.5 million to buy Mirus Bio LLC for $125 million.

Five Wisconsin drug development companies have filed this year for permits to start clinical trials.

Experienced entrepreneurs are starting second or third companies.

Big players such as Eli Lilly, Roche and Johnson & Johnson are actively seeking partnerships and alliances with young, Wisconsin biotech companies.

Full story.

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Scientists Engineer Superconducting Thin Films

One step closer to fabrication of useful devices such as superconductive transistors

UPTON, NY - One major goal on the path toward making useful superconducting devices has been engineering materials that act as superconductors at the nanoscale — the realm of billionths of a meter. Such nanoscale superconductors would be useful in devices such as superconductive transistors and eventually in ultrafast, power-saving electronics.

In the October 9, 2008, issue of Nature, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory report that they have successfully produced two-layer thin films where neither layer is superconducting on its own, but which exhibit a nanometer-thick region of superconductivity at their interface. Furthermore, they demonstrate the ability to elevate the temperature of superconductivity at this interface to temperatures exceeding 50 kelvin (-370°F), a relatively high temperature deemed more practical for real-world devices.

“This work provides definitive proof of our ability to produce robust superconductivity at the interface of two layers confined within an extremely thin, 1-2-nanometer-thick layer near the physical boundary between the two materials,” said physicist Ivan Bozovic, who leads the Brookhaven thin film research team. “It opens vistas for further progress, including using these techniques to significantly enhance superconducting properties in other known or new superconductors.”

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Medical College of Wisconsin Receives Grant to Develop Genetic Models for Complex Diseases

The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a two-year, $378,750 grant from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health to develop new technology that will allow for faster discovery of genes that contribute to complex diseases.  The study may lead to better understanding of the genetic basis for diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Howard J. Jacob, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pediatrics and director of the Human and Molecular Genetics Center, is principal investigator for the grant, which will be co-headed by senior fellow, Aron Geurts, Ph.D.

One of the key limitations to understanding the genetic basis of complex diseases is the availability of robust animal models that look at the genetic factors, rather than the physiological factors that cause disease.  Even though more than 1,300 disease-related DNA sites have already been found in models such as the laboratory rat, there is a gap in understanding complex diseases at the level of a single gene.

Dr. Jacob and Dr. Geurts will work on developing models that are better able to find the genes responsible for heart disease and cancer.  Using genetically modified rats in a laboratory setting, they will use a new non-viral tool to remove, move to different positions, or mutate genes in the genome of a single cell.  Finding the genes that contribute to cancer and heart disease may make it possible to develop better diagnostic testing and treatments for these diseases.

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