Biodegradable Implantable Medical Devices might be Possible Thanks to $18 Million NSF Grant to Multi-University Consortium

UC joins with North Carolina A&T and the University of Pittsburgh to create medical devices that can adapt to a patient’s anatomy and dissolve when no longer needed.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT) will lead the research in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh(Pitt) and the University of Cincinnati (UC). The consortium will create orthopedic, craniofacial and cardiovascular devices for adults and children that adapt to a patient’s anatomy and dissolve when no longer needed.

Funding for the project comes from a five-year, $18.5 million grant announced Sept. 4 to develop implantable devices made from biodegradable metals. The project stems from a five-year Engineering Research Center (ERC) grant that NCAT received from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in collaboration with Pitt and UC. The highly competitive ERC grants support large-scale university and industry collaborations on pioneering technologies considered important to future generations.

"Biosensor technology paired with advances in nanotechnology are a research strength at UC," said Sandra Degen, UC’s vice president of research. "We are proud to be part of this collaboration with NCAT and Pitt to design devices using some of the technology developed at UC."

Five grants were awarded in 2008 from 143 applicants. Only 29 universities in the past 25 years have received an ERC. NCAT is the first Historically Black College and University (HCBU) to become an ERC. The NSF’s ERC program is intended to focus on combining fundamental research with research and education emphasizing innovation and entrepreneurship. The education program will be strategically planned to develop graduates who are experienced in the creative process and cross-cultural collaboration and who are able to define pathways to explore and realize innovation opportunities to prepare them for success in a global economy.

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