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CWRU named one of nation’s Top 10 Centers for Biomedical Research
Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Hartwell Foundation, a Memphis-based philanthropic institution that funds innovative biomedical research to benefit children of the United States, has again selected Case Western Reserve University among its 2017 Top 10 Centers of Biomedical Research.

The other 2017 Hartwell Top 10 Research Centers include: Cornell University, Duke University, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, University of California, Davis, University of California, San Diego, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Each Top Ten Center may nominate up to three individuals for a Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award.

Case Western Reserve was also selected in 2016.

Institutions participating in the Hartwell process agree to nominate their best researchers based on an open and competitive application process. From all proposals submitted by participating institutions, The Hartwell Foundation will choose at least 10 individuals to receive an award, which provides research support for three years at $100,000 direct cost per year.

“In addition to the honor of being identified with such an elite group of research universities, the national designation allows us to submit three nominees next year instead of two, so we will have a greater chance to obtain funding,” said Lynn Singer, deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs.

In addition, by participating in the 2017 competition Case Western Reserve will be positioned to qualify for a Hartwell postdoctoral fellowship. For each CWRU nominee selected for a 2017 Individual Biomedical Research Award, the university will receive funding for one postdoctoral candidate of its choice in biomedical science that exemplifies the values of The Hartwell Foundation.

Hartwell Fellowships offer support for two years at $50,000 direct cost per year to support scientists in the early stage of their research career by enabling them to pursue further specialized training as part of their professional development.

In selecting each research center of excellence, The Hartwell Foundation takes into account the shared values the institution has with the Foundation, relating to children’s health, the presence of an associated medical school and biomedical engineering program and the quality and scope of ongoing biomedical research.

The Foundation also considers the institutional commitment to support collaboration, provide encouragement, and extend technical support to the investigator, especially as related to translational approaches and technology transfer that could promote rapid clinical application of research results. An institution’s selection for participation in any given year does not guarantee selection in a subsequent year.




Biomedical Engineering’s Anant Madabhushi and colleagues to present at national medical imaging showcase
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The data an MRI machine pulls carries potential far beyond the images it provides for physicians.

In fact, Case Western Reserve University Professor Anant Madabhushi is confident that, with the development and application of image analytics, information can be extracted from the MRI, which could then be used to enhance diagnoses, identify the level of risk and predict appropriate treatment more effectively. These analytic tools could help avoid unnecessary, painful and expensive surgery and aggressive treatments for patients who may not need or benefit from them.

Madabhushi, a professor of biomedical engineering, is joining two other Cleveland scientists to explain how imaging analytics could yield such impressive results Tuesday, March 28, at a high-level conference in Washington, D.C.

While in the nation’s capital, the group also will deliver an important message to elected officials: Federal research funding is critical to sustaining such life-saving advances—which, beyond their fundamental human importance, also can significantly lower health-care spending.

Anant Madabhushi

Anant Madabhushi

The visit comes in light of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, calling for a reduction in federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by about 18 percent—or nearly $5.8 billion of its $30 billion budget. NIH supports most of the nation’s research on diseases and treatments.

“Our group and other groups are already showing that image analytics can help improve diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of breast, lung, prostate, brain and rectal cancers,” said Madabhushi, the F. Alex Nason Professor II of Biomedical Engineering. “The research was extremely relevant before the President announced his skinny budget for NIH funding, but, boy, is it relevant now.”

Madabhushi, who also serves as director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics at Case Western Reserve, will be joined by Robert Gilkeson, vice chairman of research in the Department of Radiology at University Hospitals, and Oliver Steinbach, senior director for Clinical Science and Research Programs at Philips Healthcare, to present their research and participate in roundtable discussions during the 2017 Medical Imaging Technology Showcase on March 28, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

This year’s event, presented annually by the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research’s Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research, will focus on cutting-edge technologies in 3-D printing, virtual reality, mammography innovations and more.

The goal: to inform policymakers, advocates, academics and industry about the positive impact that imaging technology has on patient care, the value of NIH-funded academic research and the importance of effective collaborations among academia, industry and patient advocacy groups.

For Madabhushi and his colleagues, the event will provide a forum to showcase their research projects titled “New Imaging Analytics to Advance Cancer Care” to politicians on Capitol Hill and to make the case for more—not less—research funding for biomedical imaging.

“Combining image analytic tools with medical imaging scans can improve disease diagnosis non-invasively and reduce unnecessary surgical interventions and biopsies,” Madabhushi said. “Not only is this hugely important for patients in that we are not subjecting them to interventions that aren’t needed, we could also significantly cut down health-care costs by reducing unnecessary procedures. So there’s a huge economic side to this.”

While there, the group of Cleveland research scientists also has separate meetings scheduled with the offices of U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and U.S. Reps. David Joyce and Marcia Fudge.


Three CWRU faculty awarded NSF CAREER grants
Friday, March 24, 2017

Three Case Western Reserve University junior faculty members have received National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants, totaling nearly $1.7 million.

The five-year grants support research into:

  • Movements of nanoparticles through confined spaces, with applications to food source security and water purification;
  • The formation and regulation of protein bonds between cells; and
  • A deep look into the physics and variables in 3-D printing processes of metal parts.

The research projects also include education, mentorship and outreach to graduate, undergraduate and K-12 students.

Photo of Michael Hore

Michael Hore

 Michael Hore, assistant professor of macromolecular science and engineering, received a $500,000 CAREER award to unravel how nanoparticles move through a tight pore—a process known as translocation.

Plant viruses spread to cells through translocation processes, leading to crop failure and starvation. Hore’s lab will combine theory, computer simulations and experiments into a study focused on a virus mimic—nanoparticles with polymers attached to the surface.

“If we can understand how these nanoparticles move through pores, it may provide a way to fight plant infections,” Hore said. “It would also enable us to purify water by designing a membrane to preferentially filter out particles, such as a virus, that we don’t want.”

His lab will test whether strength of confinement in the pore, particle elasticity and structure and unique properties yielded by the surface polymers allow the material to pass through the pore in response to weak stimulation, mimicking the natural system.

The lab has already been characterizing particles with a scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscope. At the National Institute of Standards and Technology nuclear reactor, the researchers use a nuclear reactor to perform neutron-scattering measurements, which helps reveal material properties yielded from the atomic level.


Photo of Mike Hinczewski

Michael Hinczewski

Healthy cells have their own version of Chinese finger traps, called catch-bonding. These bonds are formed by protein molecules at the cell surface, and the greater the force pulling them apart, the longer the bond between them lasts.

Assistant Physics Professor Mike Hinczewski, who received a $656,866 award, will develop theories help uncover the structural details of catch-bonding from experimental data.

“The heart of this project is to figure out how catch-bonding occurs in a variety of protein systems in very different biological contexts,” he said. “Can all these systems be described by similar mechanisms?”

Catch bonds have been found in proteins that recruit white blood cells from a rushing blood stream, as well as at the junctions between neighboring cells in tissues, Hinczewski explained. The mechanical forces which naturally occur in these cases, due to the fluid flow or the tension in the tissue, change the protein shape, increasing the bond lifetime.

“Researchers are just beginning to explore in depth how force regulates adhesion between cells and its potential implications for the human immune system and diseases like cancer,” he said.

Hinczewski’s lab will use feedback between theory and data to develop mathematical and structural models, elucidating these counter-intuitive protein finger traps.

Photo of Bo Li

Bo Li

 “Additive manufacturing provides a good way to produce complex metal components, but the bad news is they are of low strength and have poor fatigue performance,” said Bo Li, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Li has received a $500,000 award to develop computational tools to understand what’s going wrong and enable manufacturers to run thousands of simulations at one time. They hope to be able to predict quantitatively what combinations of metals, manufacturing parameters and more will lead to the optimal product.

For metals, additive manufacturing, also called 3-D printing, typically uses a laser or electronic beam that melts powdered metals on a bed into the shape of the desired part. Li theorizes that the powder quality, temperature generated, speed and pathways at which the laser or electronic beam is drawn across the powder and other melt-pool dynamics cause defects in the microstructure of printed metals and determine the material’s properties and performance.

As Li’s lab develops analytical tools and numerical simulations addressing the multiple conditions and physics at play, experimentalists will help validate the computational framework by making parts and comparing their microstructure and performance with the errors and performance predicted by computer.


Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk PhD '87 elected to leadership position in AIMBE
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Jeffrey L. Duerk, dean of the Case School of Engineering, has been elected by his colleagues in the College of Fellows in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) to serve as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors as a director-at-large.
AIMBE is a nonprofit organization representing the top 2 percent of researchers and scholars in the field. Founded in 1991, the organization serves as an advocate for public policy issues related to improving lives through medical and biological engineering.
As director-at-large, Duerk will help set strategic priorities for AIMBE and direct the course of the organization’s future.

Duerk has served in a number of key leadership positions in professional organizations during his career, including as president of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, chair of the 2004 ISMRM Program Committee (Kyoto, Japan), treasurer of the ISMRM, editor-in-chief of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, and member of the ISMRM Board of Trustees and a 2011 recipient of its Silver Medal. He has also served as the chair of the Program Committee for the IEEE-EMBS flagship annual meeting in Chicago, 2014, a member of the EMBS Ad-Com, IEEE-TMI and IEEE-TBME reviewer over many years. He is a fellow of the IEEE, the ISMRM, AIMBE and the NAI, and a member of the inaugural class of Distinguished Researchers of the Academy of Radiology Research.



CWRU students win 2 of top 3 awards at South by Southwest's 'Student Startup Madness'
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Two Case Western Reserve University student startups won two of the top three awards Monday night in the "Student Startup Madness" championship at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.

Parihug, co-founded by CWRU student Xyla Foxlin, placed second winning a $3,000 award. Reflexion Interactive Technologies, co-founded by Matt Campagna, placed third, winning a $2,000 award.

They were among eight finalists competing in a pitch competition that started with a pool of 200 entries.

Parihug, creates Bluetooth- and wifi-enabled teddy bears that allow loved ones to virtually "hug" each other from anywhere in the world. Reflexion is a company that developed a rapid concussion-screening technology.

Some of the best U.S. college digital media startups awarded at SXSW pitched their entrepreneurial ventures in front of a panel of investors, entrepreneurs, technologists and attendees at SXSW Interactive.

"Stunning results," said Bob Sopko, director of Case Western's LaunchNet program. "It was a very difficult competition. The CWRU teams did an outstanding job connecting their tech innovations to real human needs."

Foxlin, co-founder of Parihug, also got serious attention last year at the three-week tech, music and culture gathering that's popular with early adopters and attracts about 80,000 people. Foxlin and her partner Harshita Gupta, captured the reader's choice award at the Tech.Co SXSW Startup of the Year pitch competition last year for their Internet-connected parable.plush pals.

Matt Campagna, 20, a CWRU sophomore studying computer engineering, started Reflexion Interactive Technologies with two high school friends, who now attend Pennsylvania State and Cornell universities. They developed an easily transportable system that can screen an athlete for a concussion in 30 seconds. By screening for concussions, the goal is to reduce the risk for neurological damage and decrease the liability of athletic organizations.


By Marcia Pledger, The Plain Dealer 
on March 14, 2017 at 12:24 PM, updated March 15, 2017 at 9:13 AM

U.S. News & World Report’s graduate school rankings released
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thanks to gains in research and admissions, Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine maintained its top-25 position in this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s graduate school rankings. For several other programs, improvements in individual categories weren’t enough to avoid slight dips in their overall standing.

“In an increasingly competitive environment, our challenge is not only to make progress,” President Barbara R. Snyder said, “but to improve at least as fast as our peers—and, we hope, aspirant institutions as well.”

The Case School of Engineering, for example, reported increases in both overall research dollars and dollars per faculty member, and graduated nearly 10 percent more doctoral students than the previous year. Yet those gains were not sufficient to keep its graduate ranking from slipping to 50th from 46th this year. Similarly, the law school raised its results for incoming students’ undergraduate grade point average (GPA), graduates’ employment, and bar passage rates, yet fell from 57th to 62nd. The school’s international law program fell one notch, to 12th, but the health law offering maintained its standing as the nation’s 9th-ranked program.

An even more extreme example of making statistical gains but losing rankings ground involves the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. U.S. News first ranked these programs in 2016, where Case Western Reserve’s debuted at 5th in the nation. This year the school’s DNP program became more selective, brought in a class with a higher mean undergraduate GPA, the proportion of faculty with doctoral degrees and the professions’ highest honors—and still fell to 8th. The University of Maryland at Baltimore, which tied with CWRU last year, improved in nearly as many categories, but dropped all the way to 10th. The nursing school’s master’s program also dipped year-to-year, moving from 8th to 11th.

The medical school reported $310.7 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding for 2016, an improvement of nearly 5 percent over the previous year and the first time the total topped $300 million since 2013. The school also posted an acceptance rate of 8.3 percent—1.5 percentage points more selective than the previous year—and an undergraduate median grade point average of 3.76, three-tenths of a point higher than for the class that entered 12 months’ earlier.

The Weatherhead School’s MBA program dropped from 71st to 77th, while the part-time MBA program fell from 51st to 63rd.

U.S. News & World Report ranks some graduate programs solely on peer assessment surveys that are not conducted each year. The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences for example, saw its master’s degree program ranked 9thin the results released in 2016.


The Daily 3/14/17



One of eight startups competing in Midwest regional Clean Energy Challenge
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

(Update: RVS Rubber Solutions won the Feb. 9 competition and $50,000 grant, moving on to the national competition in June.)

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 100 million pounds of tire components discarded during the manufacturing process are dumped in landfills nationally each year because the body ply—the tire’s largest component—can’t be effectively recycled.

But RVS Rubber Solutions, a student startup based at Case Western Reserve University, believes it’s come up with a solution to this environmental hazard: new technology that extracts the rubber and steel from within the components in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.

And on Feb. 9, the company’s co-founders will present their Resonant Vibrational Separation (RVS) technology to a panel of judges and live audience in Chicago as one of eight student-startup finalists in the Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) competition presented by Clean Energy Trust, a Chicago-based energy innovation nonprofit.

The event will showcase eight of the most innovative and promising university-based “clean-tech” companies in the Midwest for a chance to win $50,000. The winning team will advance to the Clean Energy Trust Challenge event in May to compete against other regional Cleantech UP winners at a national U.S. Department of Energy event in June.

The co-founders and principals of RVS Rubber Solutions are Pavel Galchenko, a Case Western Reserve sophomore studying biochemistry and applied data science, and Yohann Samarasinghe, a sophomore studying nanoengineering and business at the University of California, San Diego. Both are 2015 Aurora (Ohio) High School graduates.

Photo of Pavel Galchenko

Pavel Galchenko

“We’re honored to be competing in such a prestigious competition,” Galchenko said. “It kind of validates the technology and how far we’ve come in just a year—thanks to guidance from the School of Law’s Intellectual Property Venture Clinic and access to collaborative space at think[box].”

Body plies and belts, which are often made from polyester and steel, give the tire strength and flexibility. During tire manufacturing, the slightest defect cannot be tolerated. Because of this, large quantities of materials are rejected to ensure product quality and safety. Most of these rejected components can be recycled, however the steel body ply cannot, meaning it must be disposed of in landfills.

When disposed of in landfills, the body ply also releases harmful toxins into the environment, according to the EPA.

RVS has found a way to repurpose the rubber within the material, reducing and potentially eliminating waste, while providing rubber products manufacturers with high-quality material to make them less dependent on environmentally harmful virgin rubber for a range of applications.

RVS Rubber Solutions expects its technology to revolutionize the rubber recycling process. RVS Tech induces vibrations within the plies to break the rubber off the steel to create an almost perfect separation of the base components. This is also done without degrading the quality of the rubber, resulting in various reusable applications in the consumer marketplace.

“We recycle the component materials from tires rejected during their manufacturing in a very cost-efficient process,” Samarasinghe said. “We are a ‘negative-waste company,’ meaning we are actually reducing the amount of waste material entering landfills from other producers by reintroducing the rejected tire component into the consumer market after our RVS Tech has processed it.”

This article was originally published Feb. 7, 2017.


New technology could make it easier to screen for concussions
Monday, February 27, 2017


It was not that long ago that some parents would encourage, almost push, their sons towards playing football, they’d push their sons and daughters into soccer. That may not have changed in every case, but more and more parents are becoming concerned about the long term effects of concussions.

One of the biggest concerns among High School Administrators and coaches is screening for and diagnosing concussions. Matt Campagna is a sophomore at Case Western Reserve University and the CEO of startup Reflexion Interactive Technologies and he believes his company has developed a product that will make it easier to screen for concussions.

The prototype is a 6 feet long by 2 feet tall board, mounted on a stand, that forces athletes to move and react to a series of blinking lights.

“What we are actually measuring is an entire host of Neuro-Cognitive functions that includes peripheral awareness, depth perception, complex reaction time, memory and even balance,” Campagna says.

The screening process would require all athletes to go through a baseline screening, and  every athlete would be tested after every game and any changes to their test result would require a trip to a doctor.

“By testing every athlete after every game, it only takes 30 seconds, you can determine if a mild concussion occurred that nobody recognizes,” Campagna says.

The system is portable and can be used on the sideline. Athletes can be tested in game and that information used to help a doctor or a trainer make a decision on a return to play,  which is, according to Campagna, the critical component of concussion protocol.

“If you can catch a concussion almost everyone can recover, 100 percent, but actually 80 percent of secondary concussions in sports occur within 10 days of a prior concussion.”

Reflexion Interactive Technologies is partnered with the Penn State Center of Concussion Research, the clinical trial should be done in May and they hope the product is on the market by 2018. 

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Engineering’s Rigoberto Advincula elected to Council for the Future of Advanced Materials
Friday, January 13, 2017

Rigoberto Advincula Rigoberto Advincula, professor of macromolecular science and engineering, was elected to the World Economic Forum’s Council for the Future of Advanced Materials last fall.

He will serve a two-year term as a member of the council, which maps out the worldwide impact of advances in science and technology and involves creation of policies and position papers for world leaders.

Membership in the council is prestigious and represents technology leaders in academia, major research corporations, and research and development centers.


Case Western Reserve University showcases student and alumni startups with 10 booths at CES 2017
Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Portable concussion screening, TV station in a box, a $200 3-D printer maker machine, augmented reality and more

Case Western Reserve University will host 10 booths at CES 2017 with student, faculty and alumni founders.

Their new or developing technologies include: a sideline test to keep an athlete with a mild concussion off the field and out of danger from further damage, a maker machine costing less than $200 that prints hardware hacks or frosts a cake, and a pair of stuffed bears that transmit the touch of a faraway loved one. These and more will be displayed at CES in Las Vegas, Jan. 5-8. The trade show, produced by the Consumer Technology Association, draws more than 170,000 visitors from around the world.

Case Western Reserve, an important driver in Cleveland’s growing startup movement, is exhibiting for the fourth straight year. Representatives from the City of Cleveland, students and researchers from nearby and collaborating universities and Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs will join the university’s contingent to showcase the following and more (on the exhibit floor at Tech West, Eureka Park, Sands Hall G, 51100 to 51112):

Reflexion Interactive Technologies

Reflexion logoReflexion Interactive Technologies is developing a rapid, portable, low-cost concussion screening system to detect mild concussions at the athletic field, court or rink. “We can improve athlete safety by detecting mild concussions when they happen,” said Matt Campagna, a computer engineering major at CWRU, who is working with students from Cornell University and Pennsylvania State University to develop the system.


Xyla Foxlin holds teddy bears at CES 2016Parihug builds electronically connected teddy bears that allow loved ones separated by a few blocks or a few countries to make a physical connection. When a parent or sibling hugs one bear, soft, fabric-based sensors built in transmit a message to the other bear, which vibrates gently in the holder’s arms, explained Xyla Foxlin, a mechanical and aerospace engineering undergraduate who founded the company.

Interactive Commons

Students looking at virtual charts using hololensInteractive Commons, home to academic innovation in visualization at Case Western Reserve, will have three developers available to share their perspectives on developing for Microsoft HoloLens and the possibilities it brings to higher education. They will have a limited number of devices to share some demonstrations of the award-winning HoloAnatomy app, aimed at medical, nursing and dental students.

Ottia Maker Machine

Image of Ottia deviceOttia Maker Machine brings creativity to the next level by putting 3-D printing, wood cutting, cake frosting and more into one affordable and easy-to-use machine. With this power, Ottia is able to live and evolve with the needs of any maker, from hello-world to hardware-hacking. Founder Connor Colombo, a first-year mechanical engineering and computer science major, hopes to break down the barrier to making for all, allowing anyone to have access to his or her own makerspace.


Bluboard logoBluBoard, an adaptable digital display, was founded in 2016 by a student team at Case Western Reserve to address the hassles and costs of paper signs that must be updated frequently and traditional digital signs that are burdensome to install and operate. Combining state-of-the-art, low-power e-paper technologies, long-range wireless technologies and cloud-controlled infrastructure, BluBoard is among the first no-wire, no-power, all-weather full display systems built for ease-of-use. Common uses include messaging queue stands, light-wall signs and outdoor informational kiosks.


EveryKey logoEveryKey is a smart key that wirelessly unlocks your phone, laptop, house, car or any other access-controlled device when you are in range, and then locks it back down when you walk away. EveryKey also automatically logs you into your website accounts.


BoxCast logoBoxCast is a self-service, end-to-end streaming platform that makes it easy to deliver live, HD video from anyone to everyone, anywhere. The company has streamed more than 50,000 church events and more than 20,000 college athletic events. CEO and co-founder Gordon Daily, a double CWRU alum, said 10 percent of NCAA schools now rely on BoxCast streaming services.


CrystalE is developing self-powering wireless sensor systems to make ordinary buildings “smart” without the high cost of wiring or using battery-powered sensors. Xu-Qian Zheng, electrical engineering PhD student, and other team members from Associate Professor Philip Feng’s group, will demonstrate the easy-to-deploy, nearly maintenance-free wireless sensor node and sensor network for temperature monitoring. The technology was pioneered by CWRU researchers.

The Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor

The Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor is transforming the area between downtown Cleveland and University Circle into a thriving economic force with the support of Midtown Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, BioEnterprise and the Cleveland Foundation. Michael Lalich, project manager, will be on hand to discuss how the corridor has become home to more than 140 health-tech and high-tech companies and how to join them.


FlipSnap is an app that flips out of reality and into the world of an augmented reality (AR), allowing users to seamlessly merge themselves into videos and pictures with their favorite celebrities, brands and friends.

Also at CES

Beyond showcasing new technology, Case Western Reserve’s Jeffrey Duerk, dean of the Case School of Engineering, will be a panelist during the 2017 CES TransformingEDU Forum on Jan. 7. The panel will discuss whether maker spaces, which are moving into some engineering classrooms, represent the future in education or just another project the industry is tinkering with.

Many of the innovations were made possible through support of the Burton D. Morgan FoundationCWRU LaunchNet and the 50,000-square-foot, $40 million innovation space, CWRU Sears think[box].

Follow the university at CES with #CWRUatCES.


Case Western Reserve, ICBM Medical sign license option to advance biosensor technology
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chung-Chium (CC) Liu

Case Western Reserve University and ICBM Medical Inc. signed a one-year option-to-license agreement to commercially advance a low-cost, rapid catalytic biomarker technology that improves patient screening and monitoring for a range of clinical conditions, from concussion to prostate cancer.
By leveraging existing biomarkers and developing new ones, ICBM Medical plans to commercialize its first clinical product applications, while establishing a pipeline for future biosensors. These biosensors are designed to outperform current tests more quickly and at a lower cost.
Distinguished University Professor Chung-Chiun (C.C.) Liu, the Wallace R. Persons Professor of Sensor Technology and Control in Case Western Reserve’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been developing the technology for more than eight years.

Learn more.




Researchers building flow battery prototype to augment grid
Monday, December 19, 2016

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are scaling up a prototype iron-flow battery to provide cleaner and cheaper power when renewable energy sources are ebbing or demand is peaking. The battery would also efficiently store excess electricity when use is low.

The engineers received $1.17 million in federal funding and have begun building a 1-kilowatt prototype to provide enough power to run a small window air conditioner, big screen LCD TV, Xbox 360 gaming system and a lamp with a 100-watt incandescent bulb for six hours.

The grant brings the total U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, funding to nearly $3.25 million for this project over the last five years.

“Intermittent energy sources, such as solar and wind, combined with traditional sources of coal and nuclear power, are powering the grid. To meet peak demand, we often use less-efficient coal or gas-powered turbines,” said Bob Savinell, Distinguished University Professor and professor of chemical engineering at Case Western Reserve and co-leader of the flow battery project.

“But if we can store excess energy and make it available at peak use,” he said, “we can increase the overall efficiency and decrease the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and lower the cost of electricity.”

The biggest challenge to using a battery or other electrochemical device is cost, so Savinell and Jesse Wainright, research professor of chemical engineering, have been developing batteries based on iron, water and other inexpensive materials.

The flow batteries are also safer to operate than lithium ion batteries or others made with exotic, costly and toxic ingredients.

How flow batteries work

In standard batteries, power and energy densities are limited by wrapping all the materials used to convert chemical energy to electrical energy inside a single cell. The batteries wear out as the electrodes, which are part of the fuel, are consumed over time.

In flow batteries, chemical reactants used to produce electrical energy are stored in two tanks, and the electrodes—which are not used as fuel—are housed in a separate chamber. Reactants are pumped through the cell stack, delivering electrons in one direction to charge the battery and to discharge the system in the other.

Flow batteries can be built to produce or store a range of power, by increasing or decreasing the cells in the stack and size of reactant tanks.

The batteries can also be placed in neighborhoods, hospitals or most anywhere. Other energy storage methods are limited by geography. For example, pumped hydroelectric requires elevation changes, and compressed air storage needs caverns.

The prototype

The prototype includes a stack of 10 cells in a battery and is expected to be about the size of a desktop printer tied to two tanks containing a total of 45 gallons of mild electrolyte.

Savinell and Wainright have replaced the conventional solid electrode in the negative half of the battery cell with a slurry of flowing electrically conducting carbon particles that can be used to help convert chemical energy to electrical, and vice-versa. As much slurry as needed can be pumped through the negative chamber and stored in a separate tank. The volume stored determines energy storage capacity, independent of the power density.

“This technology has the potential to be very low-cost, very robust and environmentally benign,” Savinell said. Unlike the acid in a typical car battery, the electrolyte in the flow battery is only moderately acidic. “If the tanks leak, it’s not a catastrophe, and if you fall in a tank, you won’t get hurt,” he said.

Nick Sinclair, a research engineer and part-time PhD student at Case Western Reserve, began working on the battery as part of his senior design project in 2011. He came on board as a project engineer after graduating that spring and is now an integral member of the research side of the work.

“We’re very interested in knowing some of the most fundamental aspects, starting with how the size, shape, surface chemistry and other characteristics of carbon particles used to make the slurry electrode contribute to making the electrode conductive,” Sinclair said.

“Understanding the principles and details on which the battery operates will provide the basis for more broadly using the technology”, he said.

Savinell’s lab hopes to begin testing the prototype within a year. The flow battery can be used not only to augment power to the grid when solar power wanes, but also as a back-up power source for data centers and hospitals and more.

Since beginning research and development of the iron flow battery, Savinell and his colleagues have submitted several patent applications in the U.S. and internationally and published 12 academic papers on the research, with more in the works.


DECEMBER 19, 2016


Jeffrey L. Duerk PhD '87 one of two CWRU researchers elected 2016 National Academy of Inventors Fellows
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Two Case Western Reserve University researchers have been elected National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellows for lifetime achievements and leadership in innovation and scientific discovery.

Case School of Engineering Dean Jeffrey Duerk, the Leonard Case Professor of Engineering, and Francis Papay, a professor of surgery in Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve, will be inducted with the 175-member class of 2016 Fellows on April 6 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston during NAI’s annual conference.

NAI Fellows are nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in such areas as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society and support and enhancement of innovation.

Previously elected NAI Fellows from Case Western Reserve include Trevor Jones, a lifelong engineering pioneer and dedicated supporter of the university, who was inducted in 2014, and Distinguished University Professor Hunter Peckham, the Donnell Institute Professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics and founder of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center, inducted in 2013. Robert Miller, former professor of neurosciences and vice president for research at the university, was also inducted in 2013.

Jeffrey Duerk

photo of Jeffrey Duerk

Jeffrey Duerk

“To be recognized in the same category as Hunter and Trevor is certainly an honor. I look up to them inspirationally as role models,” said Duerk, considered an international leader in biomedical imaging research and innovation—especially Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

“Being here at Case Western Reserve from the ‘90s and being able to help expand the MRI research program from initially providing only diagnostic images to now using MRI in image-guided procedures and therapies has been especially gratifying,” he said. “The team here at the university was essential to the development of interventional MRI.”

Duerk also identified the late Paul Lauterbur, an alum who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2003, as an inspiration, “and through our scientific genealogy has great ties to the MRI program here on campus today,” he said. “Paul capitalized on the rigor to, as we say in our tagline, ‘think beyond the possible.’”

Dean of the engineering school since 2012 and a Case School of Engineering alumnus, Duerk has been a member of the university faculty since 1988. He has published more than 185 peer-reviewed papers, obtained more than 30 patents (with more than 20 licensed to industry) and secured numerous grants sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and industry. He is also founding director of the Case Center of Imaging Research and founding leader of the Cancer Imaging program in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In addition, Duerk has advocated for and supported international collaboration in biomedical engineering or imaging research, education and exchange opportunities. For example, he has played a key role in developing several relationships and student-academic programs with institutions in Germany, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, China, Brazil, Romania, South Korea and elsewhere.

Francis Papay

Papay, who joined Cleveland Clinic’s professional staff in 1992, is chairman of the clinic’s Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute and serves as section head of Craniofacial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Photo of Frank Papay

Francis Papay

“My election to the NAI is a tremendous honor,” he said. “The others who have been elected are very distinguished scientists, including 27 Nobel [Prize] winners. I feel incredibly humbled to be with a group like this.”

Papay’s imaginative and inventive nature are partly responsible for his rising to such heights in the medical community. He has been an innovator for most of his life and has continued to create throughout his career as a physician.

Papay’s early inventions include a technique to neuromodulate the skull to treat migraines. He later began to devise a wound-healing system that can penetrate layers of biofilm to deliver therapeutic agents deep into a non-healing wound. He graduated from treating migraines and healing difficult wounds to performing face and hand transplants.

“Science and innovation are fun for me,” said Papay, who has published more than 100 scientific papers, abstracts and book chapters and holds five medical-device patents. “It’s my sport. I enjoy the entrepreneurial spirit of it all. It’s like an art form. As with art, the more inventing and innovating you do, the better you get at it.”

About NAI Fellows

With the election of the 2016 class, there are 757 NAI Fellows, representing 229 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions. The 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 26,000.

The roster of NAI Fellows includes 94 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes; 376 members of the three branches of the National Academy of Sciences; 28 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame; 45 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science; 28 Nobel Laureates, 215 AAAS Fellows; 132 IEEE Fellows; and 116 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, among other awards and distinctions.

The NAI was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.


Northern Ohio institutions become laboratories for future energy usage
Thursday, December 08, 2016

Case Western Reserve University, NASA Glenn Research Center and the University of Toledo will serve as “living laboratories” that demonstrate the value of integrating distributed energy sources with the assortment of devices, equipment and other power consumers within buildings and across the grid.

The effort begins this month with a one-year award administered by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The Department of Energy-funded project is an expansion of transactive control demonstration activities ongoing at PNNL. Corporate partners FirstEnergy, Eaton Corp., Siemens and Johnson Controls are participating in this three-site activity. The total project investment from DOE and industry exceeds $1 million.

Called the Northern Ohio Building-to-Grid Integration Demonstration, the project will develop and demonstrate strategies incorporating smart building technologies on the three campuses with traditional, solar and wind power sources; batteries used for backup power, meeting peak demand and for non-peak storage; electric vehicle charging stations and more. The research would benefit municipalities, utility companies, building owners and others.

“By using a ‘living laboratory,’ we can experiment with and demonstrate the real impact these distributed energy resources have and better position us to manage the grid of the future so that we save energy, maintain reliability, reduce costs and preserve customer quality of service,” said Alexis Abramson, director of the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve and the Milton and Tamar Maltz Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), who spearheaded efforts to include grid technology pilots in DOE funding legislation, welcomed the news of an Ohio-based collaboration.  “Energy storage, renewables, and grid integration are linchpins in a bright new-energy future for the nation.  This collaboration will help us to lead the way in launching new energy technologies borne out of efforts to produce the best research possible, from right here in Ohio,” said Kaptur.

“Transactive control” is constantly managing energy in buildings and their connection to the grid, shifting the timing and quantity of energy use within a network of multiple power generators and energy-consuming devices.

“Such control of distributed resources on campus will optimize energy consumption across all conditions: when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing and when they’re not; when buildings are occupied or vacant; maintaining comfort and reliable operation of the laboratories, classrooms and offices as supply and use varies,” Abramson said.

Strategies may include setting a ceiling on daily electricity consumption in each building that, in turn, could require small to substantial steps, such as changing the thermostat setting or delaying the use of a lab air compressor.

“Whenever possible, users will anticipate peak use and reduce or delay the peak output to off-peak hours,” said Mingguo Hong, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and a lead faculty member at Case Western Reserve working on the project, “Transactive control is an essential technology to enable Buildings-to-Grid Integration, a DOE initiative.”

The system will be adjusted to mitigate solar and wind variability and regulate frequency and voltage, power correction and control.

As Case Western Reserve, NASA Glenn and University of Toledo meet milestones, they plan to seek funding for a second and third year of the demonstration project. Lessons learned will be used to expand the capabilities and applicability of transactive control and demonstrate its value to buildings, occupants and the grid.

This article was originally published Dec. 1.


The Neuroscientist Who’s Building a Better Memory for Humans
Tuesday, December 06, 2016

IN AN EPIDSODE of the dystopian near-future series, Black Mirror, a small, implantable device behind the ear grants the ability to remember, access, and replay every moment of your life in perfect detail, like a movie right before your eyes.

Theodore Berger, a biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California, can’t promise that level of perfect recall—perhaps for the better—but he is working on a memory prosthesis. The device, surgically implanted directly into the brain, mimics the function of a structure called the hippocampus by electrically stimulating the brain in a particular way to form memories—at least in rats and monkeys. And now, he’s testing one that could work in humans.

Berger’s device hinges on a theory about how the hippocampus transforms short-term memories, like where you deposited your keys, into long-term memories—so you can find them later. In his early experiments, he played a tone and then puffed air in a rabbit’s face, causing it to blink. Eventually, just playing the tone would make the rabbit blink, just like Pavlov’s famous salivating dogs. Berger recorded the hippocampus’ activity with electrodes, and as the rabbits learned to associate the tone with the air puff, patterns in those signals changed in a predictable way.

“The hippocampus was being actively engaged by and modifying its firing pattern by the training,” says Gregory Clark, Berger’s former mentee and a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. Berger calls this firing pattern a space-time code: It’s defined by where the neurons are in the brain, as well as when they fire. “As the space-time code propagates into the different layers of the hippocampus, it’s gradually changed into a different space-time code,” Berger says. “And we don’t understand why, but when it comes out, that space-time code is what the rest of the brain can recognize and use as a long-term memory.”

The outgoing code represents the memory that the rest of the brain uses as a signal—for the rabbits to blink their eyes when they hear the tone. And Berger says he’s been able to mathematically model the general rule the hippocampus uses to convert short-term memories into long-term memories.

With the general rule in hand, he built rats an artificial hippocampus. To do that, he first had to teach rats to complete a memory task: He would present a rat with one of two levers to press, then distract it with a light. When the turned back to the task, it was trained to press the lever opposite the one it originally pressed, to demonstrate it remembered.

 All the while, Berger and his team recorded the firing from the hippocampus, noting which space-time codes corresponded with the lever-pressing memory. They took the data from the incoming and outgoing firing patterns in the hippocampus and developed a mathematical model that could predict the outgoing space-time code corresponding to the incoming one. Later, when Berger gave the memory task rats a drug that blocks memory formation, he used his device to electrically stimulate the brain with the pattern of pulses—the outgoing space-time code—predicted by his model.

Then the rat would press the correct lever. “They recall the correct code as if they’ve created it themselves,” Berger says. “Now we’re putting the memory back into the brain.” Berger has also tried out the prosthesis in rhesus monkeys, in a part of the prefrontal cortex. This area is involved in executive functions like using memories to solve a novel problem. In that context, the implant improved the monkey’s memory, too.But could a similar implant in a human really work? “All of these prosthetics interfacing with the brain have one fundamental challenge,” says Dustin Tyler, a professor of engineering at Case Western Reserve University. “There are billions of neurons in the brain and trillions of connections between them that make them all work together. Trying to find technology that will go into that mass of neurons and be able to connect with them on a reasonably high-resolution level is tricky.”

Even cochlear implants—which simulates a range of sound frequencies by stimulating the auditory nerve with a couple dozen electrodes—can’t mimic sound perfectly. Scientists are far from simulating entire memories, with all their sensory inputs, especially with an electrical code using only about 100 electrodes. But that didn’t stop a new startup called Kernel from syncing up with Berger, partially bankrolling his research and naming him their Chief Science Officer.

Kernel’s earliest goals are to bring Berger’s implant to the market as a medical device that can help the memory impaired—Berger is currently conducting a human trial with a version of the device, and says that so far, the patients in his human trial are performing well on memory tests. But ultimately, CEO Bryan Johnson wants Kernel to develop devices—implantable in a simple outpatient procedure—that enhance human intelligence in areas like attention, creativity, and focus.

That goal would venture into new waters for regulatory agencies: Are these medical devices or consumer devices, and who should regulate them? Under the Food and Drug Administration’s terms, an implant would count as a medical device if its intent is to diagnose or treat a medical condition or to affect the structure or function of the body. But a subdermal implant that merely suggests it could improve concentration or creativity may slip through the FDA’s regulatory grasp, like the dietary supplements of brain stimulators.

Johnson did not comment on which direction he’ll take Kernel’s yet-unmade devices: It will depend on the individual device, its applications, and potential side effects. Sure, all medical devices and drugs come with possible side effects. Now we wait to see if this one will be a benign annoyance, or the inspiration for a new, chilling episode of Black Mirror.



Computational imaging team awarded U.S. patent for capturing intra-tumoral heterogeneity on radiographic imaging
Friday, December 02, 2016
DECEMBER 2, 2016

A team of faculty members and a graduate student were jointly awarded U.S. patent 9,483,822 for their invention “Co-Occurrence of Local Anisotropic Gradient Orientations.”

The team consisted of Anant Madabhushi, the F. Alex Nason Professor II of Biomedical Engineering, Pallavi Tiwari, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Prateek Prasnna, a graduate student in biomedical engineering.

The technology is associated with distinguishing disease phenotypes using co-occurrence of local anisotropic gradient orientations (CoLIAGe).

One example apparatus includes a set of logics that:

  • Acquires a radiologic image (e.g., MRI image) of a region of tissue demonstrating disease pathology (e.g., cancer);
  • Computes a gradient orientation for a pixel in the MRI image;
  • Computes a significant orientation for the pixel based on the gradient orientation;
  • Constructs a feature vector that captures a discretized entropy distribution for the image based on the significant orientation; and
  • Classifies the phenotype of the disease pathology based on the feature vector.

Embodiments of example apparatus may generate and display a heat map of entropy values for the image.


CWRU receives $500,000 state grant for technology start-up fund
Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission has awarded Case Western Reserve University a $500,000 grant for a campus-based translational research fund to help faculty researchers advance and commercialize their innovations.


The grant will transfer the administration of the commission’s statewide Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF) to Case Western Reserve, managed through the university’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO).


“I’m very excited because it allows us to have more influence over the projects that are selected,” said Michael Haag, TTO’s executive director for technology management and the designated principal investigator for the state grant. “It gives us the capacity to really drive translational research on campus that just needs some further investment to commercialize.”


TTO intends to issue three requests for proposals (RFPs) in calendar year 2017 and has created a committee of commercialization, venture and entrepreneurial experts to review and approve the submissions.


“I would envision 10 to 12 projects could be funded through the program next year,” Haag said. Initial RFPs are expected to be announced by January 2017.


“We are thankful for the State of Ohio’s support allows us to optimize our strongest assets and expedite bringing products to market,” said Stephanie Weidenbecher, a TTO licensing manager who will serve as director of the TVSF program. “We envision this fund as the final bridge to a viable commercial product and are excited to be able to leverage translational research dollars from other funding programs available to faculty.”


The Ohio Third Frontier was created in 2002 to build a statewide system that helps bring technology and innovation from the laboratory to the marketplace. Ohio Third Frontier’s TVSF program, created in 2012, awards money to support technologies developed at Ohio research institutions and spin-off companies that license the technologies.


The fund particularly focuses on driving development in the following areas:

  • Biomedical/life sciences;
  • Advanced materials;
  • Sensors;
  • Energy;
  • Advanced Manufacturing;
  • and Software/information technology.


Thirteen of 23 proposals Case Western Reserve has submitted since the TVSF program’s inception have received funding, attracting more than $1.6 million in “follow-on” investment.



Medicine, physics collaboration wins federal Patent for Humanity Award
Thursday, November 03, 2016

Malaria detection device faster, more accurate than current methods

A Case Western Reserve team from international health and physics has won national recognition for a portable malaria detection device with the potential to transform diagnosis and treatment of the disease in developing countries.

The team is one of four recipients of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent for Humanity Award in the category of medicine, and will be honored later this month at a White House ceremony.


International health professor Brian Grimberg and physics professor Robert Brown led the group that developed the portable, battery-operated Magneto-Optical Detector (MOD), which uses magnets and lasers to detect malaria in one minute—20 times faster than the time needed to secure results with traditional rapid-test methods. In addition, the MOD device is more accurate and less expensive; each test costs only $1 to conduct.


Robert Brown

Malaria has killed more people than any other disease caused by a single organism, including small pox and the plague. While the industrialized world has been rid of malaria for 50 years, the disease continues to affect the health and quality of life of impoverished populations. Even today, malaria is actively transmitted within 97 countries.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of the world’s population, an estimated 3.4 billion people, is at risk. Of these, 1.2 billion are at high risk. In 2015, WHO estimates, 214 million people contracted malaria, and 438,000 of them died—even though the disease is preventable and treatable.


“We wanted to address a big gap in identifying people with malaria,” Grimberg said. “It is hard to diagnose the disease accurately using current technology. The standard microscope test can generate up to 36 percent false positives and nearly 18 percent false negatives. This means that many people infected with malaria are untreated and can die of the disease. Many others who don’t have malaria receive anti-malarial drugs unnecessarily, which wastes tight resources and contributes to drug resistance.”


The MOD device detects malaria by looking for a specific type of iron within a single drop of blood. Called hemozoin, it is released by disease-carrying parasites release in crystal form. Because hemozoin has magnetic properties; when the device’s magnets get close to the blood sample, the once-randomly oriented hemozoin crystals align. Less laser light can pass through the more closely aligned crystals, giving those conducting the test a quick and definitive indicator regarding whether malaria is present.


“The Department of Physics has long been involved with cutting edge research in a variety of fields, from dark matter research to MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging),” said Brown, a Distinguished University Professor. “My colleagues on the malaria team and I work extensively in magnetic field research and fluid dynamics of magnetic and partially magnetic particles, which made it a natural fit to explore the particles created by malaria parasites. It is especially rewarding to our group to be able to work on both fundamental physics problems and applications toward improving the human condition.”


In addition to Grimberg and Brown, the team included senior research scientist Robert Deissler, mechanical designer/machinist Richard Bihary, visiting scientist William Condit, and undergraduate/technician Jason Jones, now graduated. Except for Grimberg, who has been involved with the project since its very beginning, the team comes entirely from the physics department.


Grimberg estimates that MOD can save anti-malaria organizations $1.2 billion annually on direct diagnostic savings, increased workforce productivity, and more efficient allocation of prevention and treatment resources. Also, MOD testing is easily administered outside of laboratory facilities, including in community and remote settings. As a result, care workers will be able to bring accurate malaria testing and diagnosis to the patient, instead of requiring the patient to travel as many as 30 hours each way to a health clinic.


Grimberg and his colleagues have conducted field trials of the MOD in the Amazon rainforest and Kenya. The team is collaborating with Portland, Oregon-based Hemex Health, which has licensed the MOD. Hemex will develop and commercialize the device for wider use. 


“We are excited to have joined forces with Dr. Grimberg and his team to dramatically increase the odds for the successful diagnosis and treatment of malaria, which remains a devastating disease for so many throughout the world,” said Patti White, chief executive officer of Hemex.


The company worked with the Case Western Reserve University Office of Research and Technology Management to identify the MOD as a device compatible with Hemex Health’s mission of bringing lifesaving technology to underserved markets. Hemex plans to have the final version in trials in 2017 and released with regulatory approvals in late 2018.


The Daily Nov. 3, 2016


Case Coulter Translational Research Partnership, University Hospitals offer new collaborative pilot award
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Case Coulter Translational Research Partnership and University Hospitals are offering a collaborative pilot award opportunity to promote the development of new translational research projects between problem owners (clinicians) and solution providers (engineers). The target areas for funding are in the infectious disease domain.


Total funding of $50,000 is available for this program. Award budgets of $10,000-$50,000 may be requested. Awards will be funded for a period of six months to one year. Between one and three applications are expected to be accepted.


Applicants should propose novel solutions to the clinical problems below:


  • Central line related bloodstream infections: Central lines not only allow delivery of continuous fluids, therapies and food to critically ill patients while in the hospital, but also receive therapies at home. In caring for these semi-permanent lines, meticulous attention to infection prevention processes is needed to assure that bacteria (leading to life-threatening infections) does not enter the lines.
  • Surgical site infections: Surgical site infection (SSI) continues to represent a significant portion of health care-associated infections. The impact on morbidity, mortality and cost of care has resulted in SSI reduction being identified as a top national priority in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections.
  • Emerging Infectious Diseases: Each time a solution for antimicrobial therapy or eradicating diseases is developed through the use of vaccines, there is an evolution in the microbes that causes new diseases appear, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus.


Applications must not be longer than two pages and should address:

  • Clinical problem;
  • Technical solution proposed;
  • End users of proposed technology;
  • Project plan; and
  • Budget summary.


Applications, which are due Nov. 1, should be sent in PDF format to with “CCTRP/UH Infectious Disease Pilot” in the subject heading.


The submitting co-PI is required to be a full-time CWRU engineering faculty member with an appointment in biomedical engineering.


The clinical co-PI will be matched to the program after the review process is completed. The submitting co-PI may include suggestions for the clinical co-PI.


For more information about the award and application formatting requirements, download the request for applications document.


Case Western Reserve University researchers land federal grants
Monday, August 22, 2016

Five Case Western Reserve University junior faculty members, including four Case School of Engineering faculty members, have been awarded National Science Foundation CAREER grants, bringing more than $2.5 million for research to campus.
The five-year grants support the scientists as they delve into how nanopartical organization controls properties of materials, the mechanisms in the interfaces of layered materials that control performance, how red blood cells and tissues change with disease and new ways to mine large, complex data networks.

Jennifer Carter
Carter, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, has received a $500,000 grant to help improve the durability of turbine discs used in nuclear, coal and hydro power plants, heat resistance in parts of medical imaging equipment and more.
Her lab is investigating the mesoscale (between nanometer and millimeter) structure, interactions and other features in the boundaries between layers of materials—in what are called interface-rich materials—that influence the performance of the overall part.
“In this project, we’re applying data analytics techniques to explore the multi-variable correlations that occur in material systems,” Carter said. “Conventional data analysis techniques have relied on one-to-one relationships.”
Carter’s lab plans to develop an open-source “big data” tool that companies, researchers and others can use to design and manufacture materials that optimize the interface to produce desired qualities.
Umut Gurkan
Because cancer, cardiovascular and kidney disease, anemias, obesity and a list of other diseases and conditions are accompanied by an increased stiffness and stickiness of red blood cells, Gurkan, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is investigating how this occurs and why. He received $500,000 to support the effort.
“We don’t know if the change contributes to the disease or is a result of the disease,” Gurkan said. “Healthy red cells are easily deformable and don’t stick to surfaces, but increased stiffness and stickiness can impair blood circulation.”
To understand the mechanical changes, his lab has built micro-channel devices that mimic circulation in the smallest of blood vessels. Here, they will try to identify which surface receptors are associated with increased adhesion and lower deformability.
The team will try to discern if and at what point increased adhesion is a surrogate for stiffness, the translocation of an inner membrane phospholipid to the outer membrane (thought to be correlated with adhesion) and function. Lastly, the team will explore whether unhealthy red blood cells can be identified by adhesion affinity and stiffness.
Nicole Seiberlich
Seiberlich, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, is developing and testing a new technique, called MRF-X, to probe the microstructure of tissue in the body, using standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to collect data in a new way. She received a $504,000 grant for the project.
“Our hypothesis is there’s a different makeup in healthy and diseased tissue,”Seiberlich said. “We’re going to use MRI fingerprinting to help us better understand microstructural tissue properties.”
MRI fingerprinting (MRF) is a technique designed to identify the signatures of different diseases inside the body. Seiberlich’s lab will focus on chemical exchange between different kinds of tissues. Specifically, her team will map the water exchange in healthy skeletal muscle and brain tissue. They’ll then compare the healthy brain tissue data to water exchange data from the brain of a multiple sclerosis patient.
If the technique is able to consistently detect and quantify differences, Seiberlich believes it could help doctors to diagnose disease earlier and more accurately and allow researchers to study how diseases progress, possibly identifying targets for therapies.
Xiang Zhang
Driven by challenges in real-world applications to society, biology and medicine, Zhang, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, aims to significantly extend the reliability and efficiency of large network analysis, funded with a $499,210 grant.
In computer science, networks such as the millions of people using Facebook, or the functional associations between different biological molecules are represented by graphs. The nodes, or vertices, in a graph represent objects and the edges represent relationships, such as the interaction between nodes.
“Many successful methods for analyzing network data have been developed,” Zhang said, “but methodology development for large network analysis is still at its early stage.”
His lab is focusing on three avenues toward improvement: Develop new measures to capture the similarity between nodes. Explore numerical and algorithmic approaches to study dual networks and cross-network analysis. Design robust and flexible multi-network algorithms for clustering and ranking.
Each of the five projects is now underway. They include education, mentorship and outreach to graduate, undergraduate and K-12 students.
Emily Pentzer
Pentzer, an assistant professor of chemistry, is striving to uncover the principles governing structure-property relationships at the nanoscale. Pentzer’s goal is to provide researchers and manufacturers with insight they can use to make such things as solar panels that harvest more energy, more efficient medicines and coatings that better protect ball bearings to ocean liners.
To learn the fundamentals, her lab is using graphene nanosheets to tailor such properties as conductivity and mechanical strength, energy storage and charge transport, gas adsorption and more.
“We’ll use synthetic chemistry to create a new set of materials and dictate properties such as solubility, converting heat into current or whether the material is catalytic vs. inert,” Pentzer said. “We’ll control the spatial and temporal organization of nanomaterials to access well-defined geometries not accessible by conventional methods.”
She specifically chose to study carbon-based nanosheets, which have proven to be multifunctional materials but difficult to modify, in order to reveal the properties of different structures. Her grant totals $550,000.

CWRU, Cleveland Clinic release first third-party app for Microsoft HoloLens
Thursday, June 02, 2016

The first third-party app in the Microsoft HoloLens store comes not from a video game giant or 3D design leader, but instead a Cleveland-based university and hospital.

HoloAnatomy goes beyond the on-stage demonstrations that hundreds of thousands watched in person and online during the last two years of Microsoft’s Build conferences for developers. Instead of a brief glimpse of organs in a body or single look inside a translucent brain, the new app from Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic allows viewers to explore at their own pace—and from any perspective.

The lone caveat? People have to wear a Microsoft HoloLens device to operate the app. In fact, the high-tech visor is required even to see the HoloAnatomy icon in the company’s online store. But once the device is donned and the app opened, viewers literally get an inside view of the body. As narrator Erin Henninger explains, the app is designed “to show you the kinds of learning HoloLens makes possible, a way to shift from centuries of dissection and 2D illustrations to a 3D systems-level view, at true human scale.”

In many ways, this holographic demonstration represents the culmination of a journey begun in the fall of 2014, when Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove and Case Western Reserve University President Barbara R. Snyder first traveled to Microsoft’s corporate campus in Redmond, Washington.

The two had made the trip to see technology so cutting edge it was not yet public; they had been told it could help the joint Health Education Campus achieve some of their aspirations for academic innovation.

“New technologies are changing almost every aspect of health and medicine,” Cosgrove said. “We are excited with the potential to advance medical education with innovative technology as well that will ultimately lead to advancements in patient care.”

From there, both institutions sent additional teams west to learn more about the emerging technology. Consensus existed the first application would involve anatomy—specifically, transformation of existing approaches involving cadavers to ones where students need only put on a Microsoft HoloLens visor to see inside the body.

Ever since, programmers, students and faculty have worked together to explore a broad range of possible educational uses for the Microsoft HoloLens. In the spring of 2015, Radiology Professor Mark Griswold appeared at Microsoft’s Build conference to explain just how great an impact the technology could have.

At Build 2016, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine Dean Pamela B. Davis spoke from the stage while Professor Griswold appeared remotely. The approach illustrated how Microsoft HoloLens could allow faculty to provide students direct feedback about the holograms—and vice versa—even when not in the same physical space.

“As our faculty and students continue to develop and refine the HoloLens-based anatomy curriculum,” Snyder said, “they identify new ways the technology can both deepen and accelerate learning. The potential is simply extraordinary.”

A few weeks later, HoloAnatomy appeared in Microsoft’s online store, allowing anyone with access to a HoloLens device to experience exactly what Professor Griswold meant. Once inside the program, the user can use simple hand gestures to call up images to the body. At other moments, simply saying “next” will lead to the app’s next section.

Early on, for example, a full-sized transparent body appears, arms outstretched at either side. Inside is a full skeleton. It’s soon joined by arteries and veins, and then all of the body’s muscles.

“Using HoloLens,” Henninger explains, “we can explore whole biological systems, individually or together.”

If users want to examine the arm to understand precisely how the muscles and bones work together, they can approach the limb more closely, look beneath the skin and see precisely where muscles connect to bone to allow flexion, extension and other movements.

Similarly, for those who don’t yet know the organs of the gastrointestinal system, HoloAnatomy also offers labels identifying the liver, colon and esophagus. On test day, however, the labels can go blank, with students tasked to click on the rectangle pointed to a particular organ. Correct gets a green check; wrong, a big red X.

The full HoloLens anatomy curriculum is still in development, with the goal of having all of the modules complete by the time the Health Education Campus opens in the summer of 2019. The full program not only will allow students to see systems together and apart, but also in motion.

“We can look at how the heart moves or look at how the brain processes information and how information flows around in our brain,” Professor Griswold explained.

Added Assistant Professor of Anatomy Susanne Wish-Baratz: “They can see where the heart films are closing and hear the sounds.

“A click of the fingers is going to allow students to see how everything is interconnected in the body,” Associate Dean of Curriculum Amy Wilson-Delfosse continued. “HoloLens is the next big transformative change in medical education.”

View the Microsoft HoloLens and anatomy education video.

Learn more about the Health Education Campus online.

Visit the Microsoft app store.

Alumnus, former Microsoft COO Bob Herbold commits $1.5 million to graduate student scholarships
Wednesday, March 09, 2016

In 2014, Case Western Reserve alumnus Bob Herbold helped launch the university’s data science initiative by committing $2.6 million to endow an engineering professorship in informatics and analytics.

Two years later, Microsoft’s former chief operating officer is back—this time with a $1.5 million pledge for graduate student scholarships. The new gift will help support an ambitious new venture from the Case School of Engineering: the Institute for Smart, Secure And Connected Systems (ISSACS).

“Data is essential, but it’s part of a much larger equation,” said Herbold, who earned his master’s degree in mathematics and a doctorate in computer science here. “Just as important is knowing what information to collect, how best to collect it, and how to keep it safe. This new institute draws on Case Western Reserve’s unique strengths to provide leadership in the rapidly evolving realm of the Internet of Things.”

In simplest terms, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of all of the physical devices with the ability to connect to the Internet and one another: The fitness tracker you wear on your wrist. The thermostat that lets you set the temperature at home from the office. The tiny box in your car that alerts you to signs of trouble before a part breaks. And so on.

When Herbold announced his professorship two years ago, about 3.8 billion of these devices existed worldwide. Today the figure is 6.4 billion—an increase of more than 65 percent. Progress is happening so quickly that experts can’t even agree what the figure will be in 2020; estimates range from 20 billion to nearly 40 billion. No matter who is right, three points are clear:

  • The amount of data collected is going to grow exponentially;
  • Cybersecurity efforts will have to keep pace; and
  • Economic opportunities are enormous.

How enormous? Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. puts the total impact between $3.9 and $11.1 trillion by 2025, with business-to-business functions totaling more than two-thirds of the amount, far outpacing the consumer market. More specifically, McKinsey predicts the IoT will comprise 11 percent of the global economy within nine years.

With its new Institute, the Case School of Engineering will be able to blend its broad engineering strengths in with specific disciplinary expertise. Consider, for example, a device that measures heart function and transmits the information back to a hospital for review. Faculty from electrical and computer engineering, computer science and biomedical engineering all could play integral roles in its development; so too could professors involved in cardiology, internal medicine and nutrition—as well as scholars in health policy, economics and bioethics.

“The potential of this institute comes both from Case Western Reserve’s historic areas of prominence as well as our longstanding record of interdisciplinary collaboration,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “We are seizing a moment in time where we are uniquely positioned to pinpoint new opportunities and offer groundbreaking solutions.”

Engineering Dean Jeff Duerk said the seeds of ISSACS began to take root in 2013, when President Snyder became chair of the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF), a national organization of more than 50 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and academic institutions.

As part of BHEF’s efforts to encourage engagement between industry and faculty to identify and meet emerging needs, Case Western Reserve consulted with area business leaders and found data science to be among their top concerns. In response, Case School of Engineering developed its data science initiative, which includes both academic minors and an upcoming undergraduate degree.

Later that same year, Duerk tapped Ken Loparo as the new leader for the school’s electrical engineering and computer science department, and tasked him to develop a new strategic plan that integrated degree programs in electrical, computer, and systems and control engineering and computer science for the area. The more Loparo and his colleagues spoke, the more promising synergies began to appear—not only within the department, but across the school and university:

  • “Smart Building” Sensors and Networks: These can be homes, office buildings or factories, where sensors can measure everything from energy and ventilation and adjust settings based on usage standards and outdoor temperatures. Just last year, Assistant Professor Philip Feng and Loparo received a $750,000 “incubator” grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to test some of their newest concepts. These include a device that can harvest energy from vibrations within and outside a building—for example, people moving or cars passing by—for its power. The professors are partnering with Intwine Connect LLC, a Chagrin Falls company now with offices on campus.
  • Advanced Manufacturing: Since 2014, Case Western Reserve has been actively engaged in the building of the National Network of Manufacturing Institutes, a federal initiative designed to encourage development of promising new areas within the manufacturing sector. Case Western Reserve has worked with partners in higher education and other sectors on such topics as flexible electronics, lightweight materials, direct-digital manufacturing, smart manufacturing and additive manufacturing. Including networked sensors in these efforts would provide data during the processes involved in making these new kinds of materials and products. Through this feedback, manufacturers can quickly adjust their operations to improve energy efficiency, reliability and product quality, and also minimize costs.
  • Energy: This summer, Case Western Reserve is collaborating with a handful of companies and utilities on a $6.3 million federally funded demonstration project that focuses on ways to strengthen the nation’s electrical grid. Working at three sites—including one on campus—the team will test ways to integrate solar power and solar forecasting with more efficient system control and power load management. As part of the effort, researchers will use “smart” devices to assess and enhance the entire system’s performance. The award is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SHINES (Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV) program.
  • Cybersecurity: Case Western Reserve is one of four founding members of the Northeast Ohio CyberConsortium, an organization launched last fall to increase collaboration among private, public and nonprofit organizations in identifying and neutralizing online threats. With the support of a National Science Foundation grant, faculty at the engineering school and Cleveland State University have collaborated on the development of a curriculum that teaches undergraduates the fundamentals of hardware and software security. Students participate in several experiments to gain firsthand knowledge about security threats and solutions. In the final project, student teams try to infiltrate the hardware and software of other team projects to learn how to protect systems more effectively. ISSACS will build on this work to identify additional ways that higher education can work with regional partners to strengthen the security of the devices and networks that compromise the Internet of Things.

Experts agree that establishing confidence in the safety of information is critical to realizing the positive predictions about the benefits of the IoT. But establishing that confidence is going to be expensive. Leading technology research and advisory firm Gartner forecasts that, by 2020, more than half of all business processes and systems will involve the Internet of Things. At the same time, Gartner reports, security for IoT will be about 20 percent of organizations’ total security costs—as compared to 1 percent in 2015.

Such trends are a key reason why an advisory group of university alumni in Silicon Valley urged the Case School of Engineering to include security in the institute’s efforts. These graduates—representing well-known firms such as Google, Apple, Y Combinator, NVIDIA and Yelp as well as serial technology entrepreneurs and academics—have provided insight and ideas since the engineering school first gathered them for regular meetings in 2012. The school also meets regularly in Boston with a second group of technologically oriented alumni.

“These individuals are not only thought leaders in their fields,” Duerk said, “but also have direct, practical experience in areas where we want to develop and advance excellence in teaching and research. Their observations and recommendations have been invaluable as we consider strategic choices for our future.”

In recent years, the engineering school has recruited five new faculty whose areas of concentration fall within the institute’s auspices. The appointments have bolstered Case School of Engineering’s capabilities still further in data analytics and informatics; integrated circuits and device electronics; wearable systems for health care; electric grid optimization, operation and protection; and information and complexity theory as they apply to decision and control systems for connected systems.

Herbold’s initial commitment to an endowed professorship perfectly aligns with the institute’s aspirations, while this new graduate student scholarship program will provide invaluable support to students in fields directly related to ISSACS as well as other areas. The engineering school dean will select the recipients, who will bring a record of exceptional academic achievement and demonstrate significant potential to excel in their chosen areas. The winning students will be known as Herbold Scholars.

“In an era where competition for the world’s most talented graduate students is more intense than ever, Case Western Reserve must be able to offer meaningful financial support,” Herbold said. “These awards will demonstrate the engineering school’s seriousness about the promise it sees in those candidates and, I hope, draw more of them to campus.”

In addition to Herbold’s commitment to the endowed data science professorship and graduate scholarships, the school also has raised more than $6 million in new faculty endowments for computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and wireless health. With the official launch of ISSACS, the Case School of Engineering plans to pursue additional funding to support faculty recruitment as well as new and enhanced laboratories and equipment.

“We are gratified by the federal awards we have received, and extremely appreciative of the philanthropic support alumni and friends have provided to advance this vision,” Duerk said. “We are hopeful that the more people learn about ISSACS and donors like Bob Herbold, the more moved they will be to engage with our efforts.”

The Daily 3/8/16

Cameron McIntyre '97 Named AIMBE Fellow
Thursday, March 03, 2016


Cameron McIntyreThree Case Western Reserve University faculty members have been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) for research enriching specific areas of human health.

Biomedical engineering professors Eben Alsberg and Cameron McIntyre, and associate professor Horst von Recum join 29 Case Western Reserve faculty members who have previously been elected to the institute.
AIMBE, which represents more than 50,000 professionals, calls fellows the field’s elite.

McIntyre is being honored for outstanding contributions to the scientific analysis, therapeutic mechanisms and technology development of deep-brain stimulation clinical therapy, the institute said.

He specializes in developing permanent deep-brain stimulation implants used to treat Parkinson’s disease, tremors and movement disorders. His lab is also exploring their use in patients suffering from epilepsy or other neurological disorders.
“It’s great for the neuroengineering group at CWRU to be recognized,” McIntyre said. “There are so many fellows at the university, and I’m proud to be a part.”

New image analytics may offer quick guidance for breast cancer treatment
Wednesday, March 02, 2016

For women with the most common type of breast cancer, a new way to analyze magnetic resonance images (MRI) data appears to distinguish reliably between patients who would need only hormonal treatment and those who also need chemotherapy, researchers from Case Western Reserve University report.
The analysis may provide women diagnosed with estrogen positive-receptor (ER-positive) breast cancer answers far faster than current tests and, due to its expected low cost, open the door to this kind of testing worldwide.
The research is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

“In the United States, nearly 70 percent of all breast cancer patients are diagnosed with ER-positive, but the majority don’t need chemotherapy,” said Anant Madabhushi, biomedical engineering professor at Case Western Reserve and research leader.
“Until about 15 years ago, doctors had no way of telling aggressive cancer from non-aggressive, so the majority of women got chemotherapy, which can produce very harsh side effects,” he said.
Since then, a genomic test for differentiating between aggressive and nonaggressive cancer was developed. The test requires doctors to send a biopsy sample to a company that analyzes it and assigns a risk score that the doctors then use to guide treatment.
“The test is used frequently in the United States, but it destroys tissue, requires shipping and costs about $4,000,” said Madabhushi, who is a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The cost puts the test out of reach for people in middle- and low-income countries.”
Data mining
Madabhushi’s team, which employs big data to study disease, thought they might find useful signals to discern aggressive ER-positive from indolent by mining radiologic data from MRIs.
They analyzed images of 96 ER-positive cancer patients scanned at a hospital in Cleveland or Boston. Each woman had undergone what’s called a “dynamic contrast enhanced MRI,” which produces images of tissues as they take up a contrast agent. Each woman had also undergone the genomic test.
Because intensity values regularly used to analyze tissues vary by scanner, the researchers needed a different way to search for signals distinguishing the two categories of patients.

  • They discovered differences in gene expression—molecular changes that appeared as changes in textural patterns in the images.
  • They converted the dynamic texture changes into quantitative measurements and used differences in the measurements to determine which patients needed chemotherapy and which did not.

In 85 percent of the cases, the conclusions matched those of the genomic test.
“We think the dynamic texture data is robust and reliable,” Madabhushi said. “It allows us to compare apples to apples.”
Potential advantages
He expects the test, if further trials validate it, would cost “pennies on the dollar, compared to the $4,000 test.”
For the patient, the test requires an MRI scan, which many doctors already prescribe for those newly diagnosed with cancer. “So the test, for many, doesn’t require the cost of a scan,” Madabhushi said.
He said a computer and program are the tools needed. No tissue would be shipped. Instead of waiting a week or two for results, the wait would be minutes, reducing the stress on patients and allowing them to quickly start treatment, the researchers say.
“With cloud computing and data warehousing, we can analyze images coming in from anywhere in the world, “Madabhushi said. “It breaks down geographic boundaries because everything is electronically transmitted.”
The researchers are seeking funding to evaluate the test further. They want to look at the outcomes for the 96 patients to try to determine how accurately this test and the genomic test predicted who needed chemotherapy and who didn’t. They plan to test scans from more sites to see if the results hold up.
Madabhushi said even if the MRI test proves to make accurate predictions only for patients at extremely low or extremely high need for chemotherapy, the analysis would still serve 30 to 40 percent of patients.
Co-authors on this paper include Tao Wan, professor of school of biological sciences and medical engineering at Beihang University; Boston Medical Center’s B. Nicholas Bloch, associate professor of radiology, and Carl Jaffe, professor of radiology; and from Case Western Reserve, Hannah Gilmore, assistant professor of pathology, Cheryl Thompson, assistant professor of biostatistics and epidemiology, Donna Plecha, associate professor of radiology, Lyndsay Harris, professor of hematology and oncology.

CWRU researcher developing better method to ensure safety of medications
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

United Nations Human Rights Council safe-medicines resolution motivates Soumyajit Mandal’s research

Fake or low-quality medicines and food supplements are an ongoing global problem in underdeveloped nations, although technology-savvy places, such as the United States, are also not immune.

A researcher at Case Western Reserve University is developing a low-cost, portable prototype designed to detect tainted medicines and food supplements that otherwise can make their way to consumers. The technology can authenticate good medicines and supplements.

“There is a big problem with counterfeit and substandard medicines in poorer countries, particularly in Africa and Asia,” said Soumyajit Mandal, assistant professor in the Department Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the Case School of Engineering. “In the U.S., the biggest problem is with various dietary supplements.”

Mandal and his collaborators are developing a small, box-like detector that has been preliminary tested in field trials.

“The work builds on—and improves—a related project introduced in Europe a few years ago to create a portable, low-cost detector for medicines,” he said.

Mandal said the detector he and his colleagues are developing is much more flexible (capable of analyzing a wide variety of medicines and dietary supplements), and more sensitive (capable of measuring smaller quantities).

Mandal is the principal investigator of the research and co-author of an associated paper to be published in IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Research participants are Professor Swarup Bhunia at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, Fla., and Research Fellow Jamie Barras and Professor Kaspar Althoefer, both at King’s College London.

“Current results are very promising and have advantages over competing methods,” Mandal said. “The required instrumentation is simple and low-cost, compared to other analytical techniques, such as optical spectroscopy.”

A global health concern

The paper, titled “Authentication of Medicines using Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance Spectroscopy,” links their research to the concept of safe medicines “as a human right.” In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution focused on access to medicines “that are affordable, safe, effective and of good quality.”

“We think our technology will have an important positive impact on public health by enabling consumers to directly authenticate the contents packets or bottles without having to send samples to an analytical chemistry lab,” Mandal said.

A medicine or dietary supplement might be incorrectly labeled for a variety of reasons—intentional fraud, poor manufacturing practices and degradation due to poor storage or post-expiration date. The key to detection is to know the proper active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) in a medicine or supplement, so technicians can determine whether a pill or powder is what it appears to be. The technology being developed in Mandal’s lab does not authenticate liquids.

How it works

The device uses Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance (NQR) spectroscopy, a non-invasive and non-destructive analytical technique for medicines and supplements in pill or powder form. Most chemical elements have nuclei that generate NQR signals. Almost all medicines have API with NQR-active nuclei.

Mandal’s research team proposes a “chemometric passport approach” for quality assurance. Data on packaged medicines will be derived from a spectroscopic analysis performed at the point of manufacture. The contents of the packet will later be authenticated by matching the results of another spectroscopic analysis using unique chemical identifiers from a reference spectrum.

Authentication information can be accessed either from a secure database stored in the cloud, or from information encoded directly within the product barcode. The absence of a match triggers a “contents don’t match the label” alarm on the testing device.

Mandal said that capability would be particularly useful at customs checkpoints and postal sorting offices when a barcode might not be visible. One day, he said, a person might be able to test his or her own medicines or supplements at home, which would have a direct effect on public health.

The research is showing that NQR isn’t sensitive to pill coatings and non-metallic packaging material, Mandal said.

“Part of what we are proposing is to take this product and do a systematic survey of how much misidentification there is out there,” Mandal said. “We need more data to understand the extent of the problem. We are recruiting people willing to try our prototype.”

CWRU receives funding to lead research in energy storage for defense, aerospace industries
Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Funding establishes campus-based Center of Excellence with university and corporate partners

The State of Ohio’s Federal Research Network (FRN) awarded Case Western Reserve University $1.65 million over two years to research and develop energy storage resources for the defense and aerospace industries as part of a statewide strategy to stimulate economic development and jobs.

The state investment, designed to encourage further funding from the federal government and industry, creates—as part of Case Western Reserve’s Great Lakes Energy Institute—the Partnership for Research in Energy Storage and Integration for Defense and Space Exploration (PRESIDES) Center of Excellence, a new consortium with other Ohio universities and industry partners.

The FRN Centers of Excellence are designed to advance the state’s research and commercialization of developing technologies—especially those supporting NASA Glenn Research Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFRL). Case Western Reserve was one of four Ohio universities to receive Round 1 awards for 2016-17, totaling $7.1 million in state funding.

Alexis AbramsonFor the first round of funding, three energy storage projects will be implemented that support the Federal Research Network’s plan to establish and maintain Ohio as a leader in federal research.

“We are focusing on developing next-generation batteries that are safe and lightweight and high performance to enhance applications across sectors,” said PRESIDES Director Alexis Abramson, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve.

Project Descriptions

  • The first project explores developing a high-energy-density lithium ion battery. The result would transform current lithium ion chemistries to produce batteries with higher capacity and longer life by using novel silicon anodes.
  • Project two investigates a new approach to lithium-sulfur battery development using a solid ion, ceramic-based electrolyte and graphene cathode to meet the target requirements—the result of which would be a battery that safely operates in high temperatures.
  • Project three explores a new approach to energy storage focused on embedding batteries within the structure, thus lowering the overall weight

“These three projects,” said Rohan Akolkar, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Case School of Engineering and faculty director of PRESIDES, “will address several critical scientific challenges in realizing high-energy-density lithium batteries. Our teams will aim to develop new battery materials for improving battery performance and safety.”

The eventual goal: creating energy storage technologies that benefit AFRL and NASA Glenn that have demonstrated commercial viability and the potential to attract additional federal and industry investment.

Developing advanced energy storage solutions that address limitations is a priority for both NASA Glenn and AFRL. A broad range of NASA science, human exploration and aeronautics missions need high-performance, rechargeable batteries for load-leveling and electrical power.

“Case Western Reserve has enjoyed an extensive history with NASA since its founding,” said Anne Borchert, assistant vice president for corporate relations and strategic projects. “It’s great to have significant exploration bringing these two research partners together to benefit the state.”

The Air Force maintains a large number of military assets, including multiple types of systems worn by soldiers that rely heavily on power provided by rechargeable batteries. Even more, the rechargeable energy storage commercial market is nearly $6 billion and growing quickly, due to increased demand from the renewable energy, transportation and defense sectors.

PRESIDES will measure its success using several goals, such as attracting more than $500,000 in external funding at the end of two years and more than $2 million within three years.

Project Partners

Case Western Reserve’s PRESIDES partners are:

  • Ohio State University,
  • University of Akron,
  • University of Toledo,
  • University of Dayton,
  • Lubrizol Corp.,
  • pHMatter,
  • GrafTech,
  • CRG and
  • UES Inc.

With battery research active in multiple universities statewide, Ohio boasts one of the most active energy storage research communities in the country. For example, CWRU has been a recognized leader in electrochemistry for decades. The University of Dayton has a strong research program developing novel electrodes and electrolytes and houses a robust battery testing facility. State funds will allow PRESIDES to capitalize on this existing research momentum to grow Ohio into a national leader in the energy storage field.

Established in 2009, the Great Lakes Energy Institute provides support to about 100 Case Western Reserve faculty members conducting research in critical areas of energy, including future grid and smart buildings, renewables through a materials and big-data approach, sensors and sensor systems for oil and gas, and energy storage.

CWRU to develop solar energy solutions, more resilient electrical grid as part of Department of Energy project
Thursday, February 11, 2016

Case Western Reserve University will participate in a three-year collaborative research project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to develop solar energy storage solutions and a more resilient, secure national electrical grid.

Led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Case Western Reserve researchers will investigate grid integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation, energy storage, load management and solar forecasting. The project is part of the Energy Department’s Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV, or SHINES, program.

With a total budget of $6.3 million, the research project aims to support the transformation of electric power system design and operation to seamlessly integrate solar PV and energy storage. Energy storage, solar PV and affordable, reliable grid modernization technologies are expected to play an increasingly important role in reaching the nation’s climate and clean energy goals.

Case Western Reserve, in collaboration with FirstEnergy, MCCo, Eaton, GE’s Grid Solutions (formerly Alstom Grid) and LG Chem, will provide a location on campus for one of the project’s three demonstration sites.

“Solar PV and energy storage, if effectively coordinated and controlled, could provide significant value to energy providers and consumers and result in very efficient grid operations,” said Marija Prica, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve. “These demonstrations are a critical step toward broader adoption of these technologies on the grid scale and will offer insights and advancements for managing the electric grid with high quality of service to customers while integrating PV and energy storage.”

Prica, Case Western Reserve’s lead investigator for the project, Kenneth Loparo, the Nord Professor of Engineering and chair of electrical engineering and computer science, and Mingguo Hong, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, will develop, design and demonstrate a two-level control strategy that will be demonstrated at the Case Western Reserve site.

The control system’s objective is to effectively manage energy from solar PV sources, energy storage and traditional generation to maintain reliability and the quality of electricity service to consumers.

Research at Case Western Reserve will include:

  • Developing a two-level control architecture with optimal control strategies;
  • Developing controllable distributed energy resources that combineenergy storage, load management and demand response with solar PV;
  • Integrating high-resolution solar forecasting to improve solar PV predictability;
  • Managing smart inverters to improve system performance.

This effort is one of six new projects, representing $18 million in funding, for research that improves the ability to provide solar power as needed and helps to improve the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid.

Case Alumni Association honored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education with Silver Medal for Dean's Reception and ShowCASE
Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District V has awarded the Case Alumni Association a Silver Medal for Excellence in Special Events (Inpidual Event) for the Dean’s Reception and ShowCASE.  


This year, CASE District V (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin) members submitted more than 400 entries from 80 institutions—public and private, community colleges and independent schools in all disciplines of advancement—advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing. All entries were judged by panels comprised of peers outside of the district in the advancement profession — colleagues who understand the challenges, opportunities and rewards inherent in the profession.


“Receiving this award from our peers is a true testament of how far we have come in the last four years,” commented Steve Zinram, executive director of the Case Alumni Association. “The Dean’s Reception and ShowCASE was developed by a group of engaged alumni leaders and then executed with excellence by the combined team of the Case Alumni Association and the development office of the Case School of Engineering.  It’s truly a team effort to pull off such an event.”


The Dean’s Reception and ShowCASE was conceptualized to upgrade the annual reunion banquet.  It is best described as a free-flowing event with food stations combined with “experience displays” hosted by faculty and students of the Case School of Engineering.  The evening also includes the annual alumni awards ceremony featuring short videos of each of the award winners.  The entire evening is broadcast over the Internet using high definition program, Boxcast, a product of Case alumnus Gordon Daily ’00.


The Case Alumni Association is celebrating its 130th year in 2015-16.  The organization serves as the Alumni Relations Office and the Annual Fund Office of the Case School of Engineering and the sciences and mathematics of Case Western Reserve University.

Case School of Engineering 41st in national "Best Colleges" rankings
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Case Western Reserve rebounded from last year’s one-position dip and is back at 37thin this year’s edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings. Yet again, the university benefited from gains in admissions and alumni giving, while graduation and retention rates lagged behind the school’s performance in several other categories.

“We are pleased to have moved up one spot,” President Barbara R. Snyder said, “yet the data show that we have much more to do in specific categories. Our recent progress as a university is greater than is reflected in our overall position, and we will continue to work to ensure greater alignment between our actual excellence and our ranking.”

Part of the challenge in improving the university’s standing is that the results of some categories lag behind concrete gains. For example, the magazine’s six-year graduation rate reflects the performance of students who entered the university in 2008, when more than 70 percent of applicants won admission and students’ academic qualifications were significantly lower. Meanwhile, changes in reputational scores—specifically, the ratings that university presidents, provosts, and admissions officials give schools during annual spring balloting—first await concrete gains, and then broad recognition and awareness of those improvements. Since 2010, the six-year graduation rate has moved only 3 percentage points, while the peer assessment has moved a single tenth of a point (on a five-point scale).

Nevertheless, the data behind the ratings did provide several reasons for hope. Admissions selectivity improved from 42 percent to 38 percent, and the proportion of first-year students in the top 10 percent of their graduating high school class moved from 67 percent to 68 percent. In addition, alumni giving grew from 20 percent to 21 percent, moving the university’s ranking in that category from 42nd to 35th among national universities. While the graduation rate remains lower than the magazine projects given the academic qualifications of entering students, this year’s number was only four percentage points behind—half the previous year’s number. The university’s student retention task force, a large and broad committee drawn from across the campus, is expected to issue its recommendations to improve outcomes later this fall.

With regard to individual disciplines for undergraduates, the Case School of Engineering held its position at 41st in the country, while the Weatherhead School of Management fell from 34th to 39th.

The Daily 9/9/15

CWRU nears fall launch of its expanded Think[box] innovation lab
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A 1923 storage facility once devoted to safeguarding luxury items for the rich is nearing reincarnation this fall as the big new home of "Think[box]," a high-tech workshop for hands-on tinkering and commercial innovation at Case Western Reserve University.

CWRU is planning an official opening and dedication on Oct. 1 for the $9.8 million Phase I renovation of the former Lincoln Storage building at the southwestern corner of its main campus, providing a rough-and-ready environment for engineering, design and entrepreneurship.

CWRU touts Think[box], in which it will ultimately invest $35 million, as a first-in-the-nation effort to combine technically sophisticated machinery and cross-disciplinary creativity with business start-up advice and incubation in a single structure on a university campus.

"We really needed a space that people could use on an ad hoc basis 24 hours a day," said CWRU alumnus, adjunct professor and trustee Larry Sears, who with his wife, Sally, donated $5 million to the Think[box] project.

"You need tools and equipment and safety and access and training," he said, "and you have to provide access to all these resources on an easy-come basis."

Sears founded Hexagram Inc. in 1972, now ACLARA RF Systems, a maker of electronic instruments and controls. Speaking via phone from Newfoundland last week, he said he was asked by CWRU several years ago to join a committee assigned to figure out how to use a batch of donated 3-D printers and computer-guided cutting machines.

The ensuing discussions resulted in the 2012 launch of what might be called a Think[box] 1.0 as a 4,500-square-foot prototype innovation lab in the university's Glennan Building, home to part of its engineering program.

The small facility, which is open to the general public but requires training for access to machinery, has attracted more than 100,000 visits over the past three years.

Think[box] users have been able to go from initial concepts to prototypes within days or weeks using the facility's metal and wood shops, laser cutters, 3-D printers, digitally-guided sewing machines and other tools.

And Think[box] has resulted in more than a dozen patented devices, university officials say. Its success stories include that of Felipe Gomez del Campo, a 22-year-old native of Mexico City and rising senior who invented a fuel injection method to improve the efficiency of aircraft jet engines.

Del Campo participated in a May 11 conference at the White House designed to recognize emerging global entrepreneurs. It was the second time Think[box] was honored at the White House, following the 2014 Maker Faire there.

Other Think[box] projects have included a handheld device for testing droplets of blood, a pipe-inspection tool designed to mimic the movements of a worm, and the built-from-scratch CWRU entry in the annual Society of Automotive Engineers collegiate mini-Baja competition, which puts off-road vehicles through a grueling desert competition.

At the existing Think[box] last week, biology Ph.D. candidate Joe Schinaman, a 28-year-old native of Cincinnati, used a 3-D printer to create a three-dimensional model of a fruit fly brain.

And 21-year-old Carly Harris of Pittsburgh, a rising senior in aerospace and mechanical engineering, used a computer-driven sewing machine to create a soft fabric pouch to carry a biomedical sensor next to a user's wrist.

"It's awesome," Harris said of Think[box]. "It's nice to be able to have all these materials and tools to actually make things."

If the existing Think[box] facility sounds impressive, CWRU officials say they're going to hit the accelerator at Lincoln Storage, which at 50,000 square feet will be 11 times larger than the project's current home.

The lower four floors of the new facility will have a second kickoff on Oct. 27 with "Thinkapalooza," part of the university's Innovation Summit 2015. The university has not yet said when it will launch Phase II of the renovation, for floors 5-7, but it plans to do so soon.

We wanted it edgy and rough. - Architect Marco Ciccarelli

While located on the CWRU campus, Think[box] will be free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

"It's about encouraging risk-taking and creativity and being wrong and bumping up against people you've never met before," said Lisa Camp, associate dean for strategic initiatives at the Case School of Engineering.

And as Camp frankly states, Think[box] is also about breaking down barriers between academic departments and disciplines, especially within engineering.

"Part of this is a culture change," she said. "Traditional higher education is very siloed. This is a place where an engineer could work next to an artist."

Scaling up Think[box] has always been the objective, but finding room to grow the project was difficult, Sears said, until he wandered into the Lincoln building.

Renamed the Richey-Mixon Building for Think[box] donors Joseph B. Richey II and Malachi Mixon, the Lincoln building is isolated from the rest of CWRU between the windowless back side of Veale Center, the university's gym, and the adjacent CSX rail tracks.

The odd, out-of-the-way location is explained by the fact that Lincoln Storage was designed originally to receive and store the trunks and suitcases of well-heeled Clevelanders traveling by rail. As the university expanded next door, it essentially grew around Lincoln Storage.

When Sears first explored the building, which CWRU bought in 1997, he said it was being used to store used furniture and equipment and oddities such as toothpaste and bottled water for use in emergencies.

Built with heavy-duty concrete floors and columns, and 10-foot ceilings, the seven-story building was the ideal permanent home for Think[box], Sears said. It also helped that the building, which was never heated, had no asbestos to remove.

A remodeling designed by architects from the Cleveland architecture firm of Studio Techne is transforming the fortress-like structure, which resembles a stripped-down Gothic castle. Part of the project includes cutting windows into the formerly windowless facades.

The seven floors in the structure have been laid out in an ascending hierarchy to create a pathway from brainstorming to prototyping, fabrication and commercial start-ups.

A pedestrian bridge extended from the Veale Center will function as the facility's front door, giving it an appropriately space-age entry with a back-of-beyond feel.

During a tour last week, workers were beginning to finish the already roughed-out offices and work spaces on the first four floors.

And on one of the dusty higher floors, steel doorways for the old storage vaults that once secured the oriental rugs and traveling trunks of the wealthy were stacked against a wall.

In its new incarnation, the building won't be fancy. Studio Techne architect Marco Ciccarelli said workshop areas would have plywood walls and exposed concrete floors, columns and ceilings.

"We wanted it edgy and rough," he said. "We wanted to be able to bang it up. We didn't want students worried."

Malcolm Cooke, the executive director of Think[box], said the goal is less to function like a well-organized farm – with crops neatly organized in rows - than as a lush rainforest of ideas with everything jostling for survival and growth.

"It will allow all sorts of things to occur," he said. "Who knows what's going to happen?"

By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

Biomedical Engineering’s Hunter Peckham receives 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from American Spinal Injury Association
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

P. Hunter Peckham, the Donnell Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedics at Case Western Reserve University, was recently recognized by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished career in research on the use of functional electrical stimulation to restore hand and arm control in paralyzed individuals.

Peckham, recognized internationally for his spinal cord research, was instrumental in creating the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center, which studies the application of electrical currents to generate or suppress nerve activity.

As the center’s executive director, Peckham has built a model of successful research collaboration among scientists, engineers and clinicians from the Cleveland Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Case Western Reserve and MetroHealth Medical Center.

Established in 1987, the Lifetime Achievement Award is presented periodically by ASIA to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the world of spinal cord injury care. Criteria include career dedication, peer recognition, professional competence and recognized achievement.

“When we started developing neural implants to restore movement and function for people who had sustained traumatic spinal cord injuries, it was a dream—a reality based dream, but still a dream,” Peckham said, while accepting the award at ASIA’s annual conference in Montreal this spring. “Now, some 30 years later, we are at the threshold of bringing this technology to the community.

“Two years ago, we formed a non-profit called the Institute for Functional Restoration to act as a surrogate company to bring a new platform technology through pivotal clinical trials and into a sustainability,” he continued. “We are near the launch of the clinical trials now, and our first product will be for trunk balance and hand and arm restoration. Our journey is not over yet, but we are moving forward along the path to provide sustainable access of implantable technologies that restore function for people with spinal cord injury.”

Peckham, who joined the Case Western Reserve faculty in 1972, holds eight patents, has authored hundreds of articles and was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering in 2002.

Peers and dozens of organizations throughout his career have honored Peckham. He was elected as a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, elected as a fellow of the American Spinal Injury Association, received special designation as Pioneer of the Neuroprothesis by the State of Ohio, received a special citation by the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, designated 2002 Engineer of the Year by Design News and received the Paul Magnuson Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In 2009, Peckham received the Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize from Case Western Reserve—awarded annually in recognition of exceptional achievements in teaching, research and scholarly service that have benefited the community, the nation and the world. He is a member of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Research Advisory Council and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Bioimaging and Bioengineering National Advisory Council.

“Hunter’s career-spanning contributions to such critical, potentially life-changing research can’t be overstated,” said Case School of Engineering Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk. “To have a lifetime of important work so honored is not only well-deserved, but inspiring to Hunter, his team and, truly, the entire School of Engineering as the effort continues.”

Biomedical Engineering Professor Colin Drummond’s mix of real world into classroom earns him Wittke Award
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Colin DrummondAmong the thick white binders that line a bottom shelf in Colin Drummond’s office is one filled with current events—news articles the biomedical engineering professor uses to pepper his courses with context to draw real life from theory.

There’s The Wall Street Journal feature on how a promising cardiovascular device took an agonizing six years to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. And a journal story on how Google was diving into the race to design a more efficient battery as part of its expansion into consumer electronics.

For the final class of a BioDesign course, Drummond invites actual investors to give thumbs-up or -down, as students present their new product ideas, creating a sense of what it’s really like to sell themselves and their inventions.

Injecting curriculum with real-world situations and perspective reflects not only Drummond’s creative method in the classroom, but his 20 years with some of Cleveland’s largest corporations. It’s also an approach that has earned him a 2015 Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

“Dr. Drummond has such a diverse set of experiences in his past,” a student wrote to nominate him for the prestigious award. “The way in which he openly shares these and allows students to learn from them is quite amazing. No other professor that I have had has been so encouraging or thought-provoking.”

Drummond, PhD, is a professor and assistant chair in the department of biomedical engineering and faculty director of the Masters of Engineering and Management Program. He also holds secondary faculty positions at the School of Medicine Center for Systems Biology and Informatics and appointments in the University Hospitals anesthesiology and urology departments.

“It really is an honor,” he said. “The students here are really sharp, and when they come to Case Western Reserve, they come with certain expectations. I take it as a personal challenge to meet those expectations.”

The Wittke Award is presented annually to just two faculty members. That Drummond was one of them is a tribute to how quickly he’s established himself—because he hadn’t even taught a class until he began as an adjunct faculty member in finance and accounting for engineers in 2007.

“I wanted something deeper,” he said. “That’s why I came to the university.”

Previously, Drummond’s career had taken him from aircraft systems analysis at NASA Lewis Research Center, to marketing and business development for a Nordson Corp. division, to directing clinical research for medical products at Invacare Corp.

By 2008, Drummond, who holds three patents and has three more pending, was entrenched at Case Western Reserve, directing the Coulter-Case Translational Research Partnership in the biomedical engineering department.

After shifting from biomedical engineering to teach at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, he re-joined the department in January to expand courses in experiential design and professional practice preparation—the latter of which he was especially qualified to do after having worked directly for Invacare’s co-founders.

“You understand what executives want in leaders of the future,” he said. “They want critical thinkers, people who deal with ambiguity and are self-directed leaders (lifelong learners).”

In fact, according to the student nominator, Drummond invites their feedback and suggestions, cares enough to notice when a student is absent—even in a huge lecture hall—and takes the time to read and comment in detail on their written assignments, despite having teaching assistants who could ease the workload if he wanted.

Drummond, who received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Syracuse University and an MBA in technology management from the Weatherhead School of Management, radiates a genuine enthusiasm when discussing his students. His eyes grow wider; he can barely get the words out fast enough through a wide smile.

“To see them become independent decision-makers,” he said, “is a joy.”

EECS chair Kenneth A. Loparo elected AIMBE fellow
Friday, March 27, 2015

EECS chair Kenneth A. Loparo elected AIMBE fellow

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction ofKenneth A. Loparo, Nord Professor of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, to its College of Fellows.
Loparo was nominated, reviewed and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for the development of advanced signal processing techniques to improve monitoring, detection, and diagnosis in critical care, epilepsy, and sleep.
The College of Fellows is comprised of the top 2 percent of medical and biological engineers in the country, and AIMBE fellows are regularly recognized for their contributions in teaching, research and innovation.
Loparo joins 23 other Case Western Reserve faculty members in this elite group of scholars. He was formally inducted at a ceremony held during the AIMBE’s Annual Meeting in the National Academy of Science in Washington, DC, on March 15.

CSE appoints new chair of mechanical and aerospace engineering
Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Case School of Engineering has announced the appointment of Robert Gao as the new chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
An esteemed scholar, researcher and educator, Professor Gao joins Case Western Reserve from the University of Connecticut, where he served as the Pratt and Whitney Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for seven years.

Professor Gao is recognized as a leader in his field, with extensive research expertise in the areas of physics-based sensing methodology, design, modeling, and characterization of measurement systems, multi-resolution data analysis, and energy-efficient sensor networks for the in-situ monitoring of dynamical systems, from manufacturing equipment and processes to cyber physical systems (CPS) and human physical activities. He has served as a PI or Co-PI on more than 50 projects funded by federal agencies and industrial partners. In addition to his research achievements, he is a well-respected educator and mentor, having supervised more than 35 PhD and master’s students to the completion of their graduate studies. He has two books, more than 300 papers and 10 awarded and pending patents to his name, as well as several editorial appointments in his field’s leading journals.
In addition, Professor Gao is a fellow of the ASME, IEEE and SME, a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Society of Instrumentation and Measurement, an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, and the recipient of multiple awards, including the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society’s 2013 Technical Award, several best paper/best student paper awards, and outstanding faculty awards from both the University of Connecticut and University of Massachusetts, Amherst, among many other honors. 

Forward Thinking: Inventing the Future
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
State of the Case School of Engineering and the Dean's Vision Statement

“We are all moment-makers!” said Case School of Engineering Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk, PhD ’87 in his annual “State of the School” address to engineering faculty and staff. “We must continue to search for the moment of discovery, that time of inventing something new, and realizing that it worked! Every decision we make as a school is to bring more ‘a-ha’ moments to more people.”

Dean Duerk presented his vision for the school that we’d like to share with you here:

  • Leaders lead. They take their organizations to a new and better position because staying put is not an option. They are not satisfied with where they are, rather, they chart a path to where they want to be.
  • Focus on our strengths and distinctiveness. Let’s do those things where we are great (or can be great) and can have the most impact and to the most people.
  • You can’t cut your way to greatness. Success comes from a careful plan that balances investments aligned with revenue and impact and cuts those programs where impact and distinctiveness are low or not aligned to future importance. 

Read more here ....

Engineering Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk named IEEE fellow
Friday, January 23, 2015

Jeffrey L. Duerk, dean of the Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, has been named a 2015 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) fellow for contributions to rapid magnetic resonance imaging technologies.

He joins an exclusive group of scholars in this honor: No more than one-tenth of 1 percent of the institute’s total voting membership can be elevated to an IEEE fellow in any one year.

Duerk, who earned his PhD from Case Western Reserve, became dean of the Case School of Engineering in 2012, after serving 24 years on the faculty of the biomedical engineering and radiology departments. He has devoted his career to working with scientists, engineers, physicians and students to develop new MR imaging techniques that facilitate immediate clinical utilization to improve patient care. His work has a strong emphasis in expanding the role of MR imaging into new applications, including image-guided procedures, rapid imaging, analysis and compensation of the effects of motion in MRI, topics in intravascular coil development, signal processing aspects of MR, and more recently in the development of Interventional MRI. Duerk has published approximately 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, has approximately 20 patents and has been the recipient of Fellow awards from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (where he is also their silver medal recipient), the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers, the American Board of Medical Physicists, and also a member of the inaugural class of Distinguished Radiology Researchers from the Academy of Radiology Research.

Duerk joins fellow biomedical engineering professor Dominique Durand, electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) Chair Kenneth Loparo and EECS professors Benham Malakooti and Christos Papachristou among current faculty who have received this highest designation from IEEE.

With more than 425,000 members, IEEE is the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.

Case Western Reserve University students, alumni bring hard science and fun to CES 2015
Monday, December 22, 2014

From health monitoring to aviation, from mobile password protection to affordable high-end yo-yos and more

CESNine teams of Case Western Reserve University student and alumni entrepreneurs will showcase their inventions and burgeoning businesses at the world’s premier stage for innovation, the International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas Jan. 6-9. The annual exhibition draws more than 150,000 attendees from around the globe.

Two teams—Everykey and Carbon Origins, which introduced their concepts at last year’s CES—return and will join seven innovators displaying their products for the first time at the show:

  • Some aim to put high-tech home maintenance, high art, health monitoring, aviation or rocketeering within reach.
  • One group seeks to simplify private access and control over electronic and lockable devices; another group, to simplify and broaden access to videos taken at events.
  • Still another uses the latest manufacturing technology to make a pricy toy of equal quality, but less expensive.

The inventions began as class projects or hobbies or were the product of years of research. All are supported by think[ box ], the campus innovation hub that provides space, equipment and training to make prototypes and products ( Teams also benefitted from Blackstone Launchpad (, a program that mentors students through startup and development, securing funding and taking an idea to market. Student teams are funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

The Case School of Engineering was the only university organization exclusively showcasing student startups at CES 2014.

“Think[ box ] is where our students and faculty can, on their own, take those ideas in their heads and get them in their hands—that is, to actually go from concept to prototype,” said Jeffrey Duerk, dean of the Case School of Engineering. “Virtually each of the interdisciplinary student teams and some of the alumni teams going to CES have used and benefitted from the physical assets and human resources we provide in the think[ box ] ecosystem.”

In its second year attending CES, Case Western Reserve will triple its presence.

“We look forward to our expanded involvement in the world’s largest display of innovation and discovery,” said Bob Sopko, director of the Blackstone Launchpad program at Case Western Reserve. “As a major research institution, we will be involved for our second year in a row, expanding from two to six booths (between 75427 and 75437 Tech West, Sands Expo, Level 2). Our students and alumni are excited to be demonstrating, selling and actively looking for partnerships.”

The teams and their innovations are:

Everykey (, a Bluetooth-enabled wristband that allows the user immediate access to his password-protected electronics, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer, as well as physically locked items including doors, car doors, bike locks and other controlled access devices, when within range.

“Everykey removes the stress and hassle of losing keys and forgetting passwords, while providing even better security than what consumers currently have in place,” said Christopher Wentz, CEO of Everykey and a 2013 CWRU graduate. “Our product uses military grade encryption, allowing only you access to your personal property and accounts. Like a credit card, you can instantly disable your Everykey if it ever gets lost or stolen.”

SpiroSano (, which helps patients with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, COPD or cystic fibrosis, track their activities and episodes around the clock and share that data with their doctor to improve treatment. Doctor and patient create and control a personalized disease management toolkit using SpiroSpano’s platform.

The web tools, devices and data components not only enable doctors to prescribe the best treatments for individual patients, but the system provides researchers data aggregated anonymously from a multitude of sources in a HIPPA-compliant way. Jacob Glenn, a 2002 computer science graduate, who also earned a master’s in engineering management in 2003, is a co-founder.

ArtKick (, which turns a TV or computer screen into a gallery of artistic masterpieces, ranging from cave paintings to modern sculptures, the work of top photographers or simply your own snapshots. With a mobile device or tablet to navigate through millions of images organized by ArtKick, one can create a view list or slideshow that runs for a pre-set amount of time or loops continuously.

Choices include works of art from the world’s leading museums; images from the Library of Congress; photos from the red carpets of Broadway, runways of Paris and Hollywood premiers; major sports leagues in the U.S and around the world; the latest news from photojournalists on Earth or distant galaxies as captured by NASA’s Hubble Telescope. Sheldon Laube, CWRU class of 1972, is founder and CEO.

Doppler Yoyo, one of several competition-grade and collectors-grade yo-yos Spartan Yoyo Works creates using 3-D printing at a fraction of the standard production price. Undergraduate engineering students Vince Cozza and Zachary Lerner founded Spartan and developed Doppler’s novel design. The yo-yo is made of a single material and achieves a high moment of inertia by changing the geometry in ways that would be impossible without 3-D printing.

The Doppler features internal variable density rings. By maintaining a high fill density and high resolution, the yo-yos are rotationally symmetric with high moments of inertia and mass equal to that of a standard competition-grade yo-yo. But this yo-yo has a much cheaper net production cost of less than $20.

Carbon Origins (, a technology think-tank founded by a group of CWRU students who are taking time off from school to focus on solving hard technical problems in electronics and aerospace.

They are launching their first product, Apollo, a tiny embedded sensor development board compatible with the popular Arduino platform. Apollo’s environmental and motion sensors are capable of measuring and recording temperature, pressure, humidity, ultraviolet, infrared and visible light, audio intensity, three-axis accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer and GPS.

Apollo also has onboard WiFi and Bluetooth radios for networking. The software tools developed by the team allow users to take this data and derive useful information from it. The product was developed after one of the Carbon’s rockets crashed and burned, leaving the young scientists wanting to know why. Originally designed for their rockets, the product has now found applications for everything from robotics and drones to wearable computing.

Event 38 Unmanned Systems (, which designs and builds mission-specific, unmanned fixed-wing and multirotor aircraft systems and optical sensors as well as drone data post-processing solutions. Event 38 systems are used primarily in agriculture and surveying.

CEO Jeff Taylor graduated with a BS in aerospace engineering from CWRU in 2009. He worked for SpaceX, then led the development team at 3D Robotics, the largest consumer drone company in the U.S. He co-founded Event 38 with the premise of offering reliable and affordable systems. “We’ve been lucky to have think[ box ] in our area, where we can take advantage of advanced prototyping equipment to shorten our development cycle,” he said.

BoxCast (, a company that has developed a plug-and-play broadcast box, within the display of Osmisys (, an electrical engineering technology firm. The Boxcast product allows anyone with a camera to conveniently stream standard and high-definition live video to the company’s cloud-based service for retrieval at any time and from any location.

“Every gathering these days has a camera running somewhere, but that footage is not always shared,” said BoxCast founder Gordon Daily, who earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from CWRU “BoxCast ensures that anyone with a device that connects to the Internet–from tablets and cell phones to personal computers—can watch the event as if they were there in person.”

BoxCast’s broadcast box automates an otherwise-cumbersome process and enables organizations to both reach and expand their audience. The product has been called a potential game-changer for churches, nonprofits and other organizations that can’t afford expensive recording equipment and crews.

360×360 Selfie Stick, patented in 2012 by CWRU alumnus Joshua Wang, of Taiwan. With a telescoping handle and a camera bracket that can swivel in any direction, the stick provides the distance to take “selfies” of large groups or to provide different angles or more background in photographs. The stick can also be used to take photos over walls, around corners and in hard-to-reach places.

Hema Imaging LLC (, which helps homeowners and professionals use thermal, or “heat map,” imaging to uncover unexpected temperatures associated with common household problems, such as faulty circuit breakers, sealing losses or ductwork and water leakage. The HemaVision helps homeowners identify and diagnose problems by automatically highlighting abnormal temperatures, locking onto scenes, calculating power dissipation and cost, and making statistical maps of significant temperature changes. Courtney Beall, co-founder and director of marketing, earned her MBA from Weatherhead School of Management in 2009.

The Daily 12-22-14

Cleveland preps for fastest Internet available
Monday, November 24, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) — Sometime next year, Cleveland will become the first city in the country to offer commercial Internet service at 100 gigabits per second, city and local officials said.

An announcement about the project is scheduled for Friday in Cleveland. Officials hope the availability of exponentially faster Internet service will be a catalyst for attracting startups and existing technology companies to the city's burgeoning Health-Tech Corridor.

One hundred gigabits per second is more than 300 times faster than the average download speed of residential Internet service in the U.S. The increased speed should allow health care providers and technology companies to move high-definition image files much faster than currently available speeds allow.

Those involved in the project acknowledge there's currently not much demand in Cleveland for speeds of 100 gigabits. But they say that the evolution of technology should soon make it relevant and that the network provides a strong selling point when courting companies to locate to Cleveland.

The nonprofit OneCommunity worked with the city to obtain a $714,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help pay for the $1 million project.

"We're building a network for the art of the possible," said OneCommunity CEO Lev Gonick said.

Plans call for completion of the 3-mile Internet "pipeline" between Case Western Reserve University and ideastream, Cleveland's public radio and television organization, by next summer.

Sue Workman, Case Western's vice president of information technology services, said upgrading to a 100 gigabit network will allow for greater use of high-performance learning applications and will help feed the school's ever-growing need for bandwidth.

Ohio colleges and universities have had for the past two years limited access to a 100-gigabit network through the Ohio Technology Consortium based at Ohio State University. Gonick said Cleveland's new network will provide connectivity to Columbus and other Ohio cities that currently does not exist.

ByteGrid, a national company that is expanding an existing data center near downtown Cleveland, will be connecting with the 100 gigabit network. That will allow the company to sell data storage and retrieval services at speeds not previously available.

"It's going to be a big opportunity for Cleveland," said Don Goodwin, Bytegrid's executive vice president of sales and marketing. "We're excited to be part of it."

Huffington Post 11/20/14

Renovations begin on new home for think[box]
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Case Western Reserve’s think[ box ] project has always been a little different. From its lower-case name to its basement “startup” space, the innovation hub has consistently defied convention as it sought to become a full-sized reality.

Little wonder, then, that when it came time for construction to start, the kickoff was anything but a traditional groundbreaking with hard hats and shovels. Instead university leaders and the project’s leading supporters each flipped a large switch Thursday night, sending a video version of a think[ box ] rocket toward the sky—complete with rumbling engines and actual plumes of smoke filling the tent on Toby’s Plaza.


thinkbox launch

President Barbara R. Snyder and project supporters flipped switches to launch the renovations on the new home for think[box].

Renovation work begins this fall on the first phase of the seven-story, 55,000-square-foot space that will house think[ box ], with plans for that initial portion to be completed within a year. Located in a storage structure located on the southwest edge of campus, think[ box ] will feature large workshop spaces, meeting rooms, and even offices for entrepreneurial advisers.


To date, President Barbara R. Snyder said Thursday night, think[ box ] supporters have contributed more than $25 million. Among those present during the formal celebration were:

  • Alumni Larry and Sally Sears, who committed $5 million;
  • Alumnus Barry Romich, who initially committed $1 million and then doubled his commitment this summer;
  • Alumna Gini Barbato, representing the Eric and Jane Nord Family Fund;
  • Invacare Chairman Mal Mixon and alumnus and President of Invacare Technologies J.B. Richey, who together committed $5 million to name the building
  • State Sen. Tom Patton and Lorain County Community College President Roy Church, whose support and collaboration helped the university secure $1 million from the State of Ohio.

President Snyder also cited two other significant supporters unable to attend Thursday’s celebration. For example, she said, alumnus James Wyant had announced a $3 million commitment to the project last week during the dedication of the Wyant Wellness and Athletic Center. In addition, she noted, 1943 chemical engineering graduate Cloud Cray had pledged $2 million to the project.

“He recognizes the importance of think[ box ] to our students and the broader economy,”  Snyder said, “… and we could not be more grate

Case Western Reserve kicks off homecoming with Blue Block Party Oct. 16
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For the third year in a row, Case Western Reserve University is turning Uptown blue and kicking off homecoming weekend with Blue Block Party.

The campus community will take over Toby’s Plaza at Case Western Reserve University and Uptown, located at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, Thursday, Oct. 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. for a dynamic street festival that recognizes the innovation and talents of Case Western Reserve’s students and alumni with food, entertainment and more.

This family-friendly event is free and open to the public, and creative blue attire is strongly encouraged.

The fall-themed event will feature live music from Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Thu Tran, otherwise know as DJ Chipotle, and local acoustic guitarist Phillip Bonanno.

On the menu, there will be a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, fresh grilled corn on the cob, apple cider and other fall favorites. A number of Uptown establishments—including the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Piccadilly Artisan Creamery, the Triangle Apartments and new addition Crop Kitchen—will fill Uptown Avenue with activities and culinary samples.

Students, alumni and friends gathered at the 2013 Blue Block Party, dressed in their blue apparel.

Students, alumni and friends gathered at the 2013 Blue Block Party, dressed in their blue apparel.

Case Western Reserve’s innovation hub, think[ box ], will feature an exhibit that was created for Blue Block Party in which the signature blue drink will be served. The exhibit will use a laminar flow system in which a glass-like flow of punch will launch the punch for serving. For those interested in fluid dynamics, this smooth stream of punch is created when the Reynolds number (a term describing turbulence) of a stream of fluid is kept below the critical value of 2300. Under these circumstances, instead of a jet spraying droplets of fluid in a multitude of directions, the fluid remains as one smooth stream. This is how the “dancing fountains” work in Las Vegas and at the Terminal Tower’s largest fountain here in Cleveland.

Through Case Western Reserve’s commitment to, and continued investment in, Cleveland and the University Circle neighborhood, Uptown has been brought to life as a flourishing arts and entertainment district.

For more information and the latest news and events in UPTOWN, and follow the neighborhood on Twitter (@UptownCLE) using the hashtag #uptowncle, like them on Facebook ( and interact on Instagram (UptownCLE).

University sets all-time record for gifts, pledges for 2013-2014 fiscal year
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Case Western Reserve announced today that its generous donors allowed the university to set another all-time record for gifts and pledges for the fiscal year ended June 30. Alumni and friends committed a total of $151.6 million—an amount $5.7 million more over the previous all-time record set in 2013. In addition, supporters enabled Case Western Reserve to set new all-time records in nearly two dozen individual categories.

“This fundraising success is a testament to two groups of people: the supporters who appreciate the extent of our impact, and the faculty, staff, and students who perform such inspiring work every day,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “Our gratitude to everyone who advances Case Western Reserve is truly immense.

Among the new all-time records set were:

  • Two all-time school-level records - $52.6 million for the School of Medicine, and$32.8 million for the Case School of Engineering. In both instances, the previous all-time record had been set in 2013.
  • An all-time overall annual fund record of $10.3 million, another instance where 2013’s total had been the previous record.
  • Three all-time annual fund records for schools: $346,724 for nursing; $1.1 million for management; and $2.4 million for medicine.

In the fall of 2011 the university announced Forward Thinking: The Campaign for Case Western Reserve University.  This $1 billion fundraising drive aims to increase financial support for students; grow the number of endowed professorships; and support significant capital projects.

Two examples of priority projects in the last category include The Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple – Tifereth Israel and think[box], a  a 50,000 square foot invention and innovation space to be located in the renovated Lincoln Storage building on the southwest part of campus. This hands-on learning-and-doing hub will occupy seven stories and realize the potential quickly evident when the Case School of Engineering first opened its pilot version of think[box],  a 4,500-square foot basement area that logs 3,000 visits a month during the academic year.

This Sunday, Aug. 24, the university celebrates the completion of a major campaign priority, the $50 million Tinkham Veale University Center. Funded entirely through donations, the 89,000 square-foot structure includes a ballroom, restaurant, food court and space for several student organizations. The university dedicates the building Sunday evening with a dessert reception at 6:30 and a concert on Freiberger Field for members of the Case Western Reserve community by OK GO, a Los Angeles band renowned as much for their viral videos as their music. Attendees also will be able to tour the new university center.

At 7 p.m. President Barbara R. Snyder will introduce the band and make a special announcement about the capital campaign.

New cyber search tool developed at Case Western Reserve University delivers more relevant results
Monday, August 04, 2014

Traditional Internet search methods can overwhelm users with long lists of links, leaving them to sift through pages of possibly irrelevant data to find what they’re looking for.
But a new search tool developed by computer scientists at Case Western Reserve University saves users time and frustration by quickly retrieving more relevant information than keyword-based searches.
Not only is the new tool, called the Conjunctive Exploratory Navigation Interface (CENI), accurate, it’s popular. Anonymous testers recruited through crowdsourcing preferred the new system nearly two-to-one over a keyword-based interface and Google.
Learn more about the new search method. 

CWRU engineer to grow replacement tissue for torn rotator cuffs
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Coaxing adult stem cells to grow tendons

Akkus_1_2A Case Western Reserve University engineer won a $1.7 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to grow replacement rotator cuffs and other large tendon groups to help heal injured soldiers and athletes, accident victims and an aging population that wants to remain active.

Ozan Akkus, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, already devised a technique to reconstitute collagen—a building block of tendons—into tough fibers and induce adult stem cells to grow into tendons on those fibers.

“This is a concept that works on a lab bench,” Akkus said. “We will refine the concept and test the validity on an animal model.”

“Following completion of that, we may be in position for clinical applications,” he continued.

Tendons are the sinew that tie muscle to bone, enabling us to push and pull, run and jump or, in the case of the rotator cuff, throw a ball or a mundane task such as reaching up to a shelf. But the cuff is susceptible to wear and damage.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that nearly 200,000 Americans require shoulder surgery to repair damaged rotator cuffs annually. The failure rate for repairs exceeds 20 percent, with the rate being highest for the largest tears.

A better fix

“A simple detachment, doctors suture back in place,” Akkus said. “But if the body or bulk of the tendon is damaged and there is not enough tendon to reattach, we need to regenerate bulk volume of the tendon.”

To achieve that, the NIH grant will allow Akkus and a team of doctors and researchers to conduct basic science and translational work during the next five years.Akkus Figure 4c-1

At the heart of tendons is collagen, which is in skin, teeth, bones and ligaments of many species and is therefore accepted by the immune system. But,  “normally, when you reconstitute collagen, it’s as strong as Jell-O,” Akkus said. “For a tendon, that’s not an option.”

His lab uses electrical currents to align collagen threads, mimicking the natural tendon and making the threads dense and strong as a tendon. And his team can make threads in bulk, which would enable manufacturers to make spools of the material—enough to accommodate hundreds of thousands of surgeries.

Woven threads are sufficiently strong to be surgically handled and sutured in place and be fully load-bearing, Akkus said. “This would enable a patient to begin physical therapy and remobilization quickly,” he said.

Growing tendon tissue

The threads alone could be used as sutures to repair simple tears. But when more tendon material is needed, adult mesenchymal stem cells placed on the aligned collagen differentiate toward tendon cells without highly regulated growth factors, which also carry undesirable side effects or other chemicals.

Akkus’ lab will investigate why differentiation occurs and whether other factors, such as mechanical stress, may further induce the stem cells to develop into tendon.

They will also test whether mesenchymal stem cells in bone marrow could complete a repair. They will drill holes in bone, tie collagen scaffolds through the holes and try to coax stem cells to spread over the scaffold and grow.

If this fails, they will seed cells on a scaffold in a petri dish and allow them to grow for a few weeks before implanting the biomaterial.

The researchers believe the technology will be useful for more than tendons. For example, mesh sheets woven with controlled pore size and geometry could be used to repair hernias or urinary incontinence. Sheets of collagen could be cast in molds of an ear or nose, for replacements for patients who suffered trauma or devastating tumors.

In his tendon project, Akkus is working with graduate research assistants Mousa Younesi and Anowarul Islam. He is collaborating with James M. Anderson, Distinguished University Professor of pathology,macromolecular science, and biomedical engineering at the School of Medicine, and Robert Gillespie, assistant professor and orthopedic surgeon at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. Denitsa Docheva, the leader of the “TENDON” Research Group, Department of Surgery, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany is consulted on the biology of stem cells and tendon cells. Three more faculty on staff at University Hospitals Case Medical Center are involved in other applications of the technology developed in Akkus’ Lab: Adonis Hijaz, associate professor and urologist; and assistant professors and otolaryngologists Chad Zender and Rod Rezaee.

Structure, behavior better explained by galaxy collisions
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Marcel Pawlowski

Marcel Pawlowski

Satellite dwarf galaxies at the edges of the Milky Way and neighboring Andromeda defy the accepted model of galaxy formation, and recent attempts to pigeon-hole them into the model are flawed, an international team of scientists reports.

The mismatch raises questions about the accuracy of the standard model of cosmology, which is the widely accepted paradigm for the origin and evolution of the universe, the astrophysicists say.

A preprint of the research paper, accepted for publication by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is online at

The standard model, also called the “lambda cold dark matter model,” says that satellite dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way and Andromeda are expected to behave a certain way: The galaxies would form in halos of dark matter, be widely distributed and would have to move in random directions, said Marcel Pawlowski, a postdoctoral researcher in the astronomy department and lead author of the new study.

“But what astronomers see is different,” Pawlowski said. “We see the satellite galaxies are in a huge disk and moving in the same direction within this disk, like the planets in our solar system moving in a thin plane in one direction around the sun. That’s unexpected and could be a real problem.”

An optical image of the “Tadpole” galaxy, an interacting galaxy, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, Holland Ford (JHU), the ACS Science Team and ESA

An optical image of the “Tadpole” galaxy, an interacting galaxy, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo Credit: NASA, Holland Ford (JHU), the ACS Science Team and ESA

In the Milky Way, the dwarf galaxies and accompanying star clusters and streams of stars are in what’s called the Magellanic plane, or what the authors call the Vast Polar Structure; and in Andromeda, half of the satellites are in the Great Plane of Andromeda.

Pawlowski and 13 co-authors from six countries examined three recent papers by international teams that concluded the planar distributions of galaxies fit the standard model.

“When we compared simulations using their data to what is observed by astronomers, we found a very substantial mismatch,” Pawlowski said.

With computers, the researchers simulated mock observations of thousands of Milky Ways using the same data as the three previous papers. They found just one of a few thousand simulations matched what astronomers actually observe around the Milky Way.

“But we also have Andromeda,” Pawlowski said. “The chance to have two galaxies with such huge disks of satellite galaxies is less than one in 100,000.”

When the researchers corrected for flaws they say they found in the three studies, they could not reproduce the findings made in the respective papers.

“The standard model contains various putative ingredients— such as dark matter and dark energy —which were introduced because the model wasn’t consistent with observations,” said Benoit Famaey, a senior research associate at the University of Strasbourg in France, and co-author of the study.

Famaey and the other authors are among a small but growing number of astrophysicists who find the standard model fails to replicate what’s observed and therefore they seek alternatives.

Dark matter is thought to be an as-yet undetected matter that provides galaxies with enough mass to prevent the speed of their rotation from pulling them apart. If present, the unseen cloud of matter would be extremely unlikely to result in the planar structures seen.

The authors suggest an alternative and older explanation for the satellite dwarf galaxies: a collision between two galaxies. The collision may have ripped material from the galaxies and thrown it a great distance, much like tides on Earth. The resulting tidal dwarf galaxies are formed from the debris.

“Standard galaxies must contain dark matter, but tidal galaxies cannot contain dark matter,” said Pavel Kroupa, a co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Bonn in Germany. “There’s a very serious conflict, and the repercussion is we do not seem to have the correct theory of gravity”

The group will continue to study tidal dwarf galaxies and whether another alternative to the standard model—modified gravity—fits what they observe.

The researchers say science may initially balk at the premise but has historically embraced challenges to accepted theories, and for good reason.

“When you have a clear contradiction like this, you ought to focus on it,” said David Merritt, professor of astrophysics at Rochester Institute of Technology and co-author of the new study. “This is how progress in science is made.”

A computer simulation of two galaxies, which is credited to Observatoire de Paris / GEPI / François Hammer et al, is available at

Robotic catheter could help doctors navigate through the heart’s chambers in real time
Friday, June 20, 2014

To reach a malfunctioning heart, doctors use catheters to travel through the body’s veins. But a beating heart is essentially a moving target and blood flow makes for a turbulent trip. 
A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University has developed a robotic catheter guided by the magnetic forces created by MRI that could help doctors more precisely navigate through the heart’s chambers in real time.
The research team, led by M. Cenk Cavusoglu, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, will use a $1.3-million grant from the National Institutes of Health to refine the technology over the next four years. 

Learn more about how magnets guide the device.

Four faculty members honored for exemplary research contributions
Monday, May 12, 2014

In recognition of the critical importance of research to Case Western Reserve’s success, university administrators recently announced the recipients of the second Faculty Distinguished Research Awards.

The awards, created last year under the direction of Vice President for Research Robert Miller, recognize faculty members for outstanding contributions to knowledge creation, scholarship and/or artistic creativity in their areas of expertise. Awardees are expected to have national and international renown for their scholarly contributions.

The deans of each school and college nominated individuals for the awards, and a committee composed of Distinguished University Professors and previous recipients of the Faculty Distinguished Research Awards selected the winners.

Honorees received a plaque and $10,000 to be used as a one-time salary supplement or as discretionary funds to support their research.

The Faculty Distinguished Research Award winners for 2014 are:

  • Dominique Durand, the Elmer Lincoln Lindseth Professor in Biomedical Engineering, for his contributions to the field of neural engineering;
  • Jim Kazura, professor of international health, medicine and pathology, for his contributions to the field of global health;
  • Peter Ritchken, professor of banking and finance, for his contributions to the field of finance; and
  • Michael Weiss, the Cowan-Blum Professor of Cancer Research and chair of biochemistry, for his contributions to the study of precursors of insulin

Dominique Durand, the Elmer Lincoln Lindseth Professor in Biomedical Engineering

Dominique Durand with VP Robert Miller CWRU

Dominique Durand (left) after receiving the award from Vice President for Research Robert Miller.

Durand is known for his significant, creative research on the function of the nervous system—especially as it relates to the understanding and treatment of alcoholism, epilepsy, sleep apnea, paralysis and amputation.

Durand, who also serves as director of the Neural Engineering Center, consistently receives federal funding for his work—including two projects funded by the National Institutes of Health in the past year. Durand has published more than 125 peer-reviewed articles that have generated more than 4,500 citations; founded the Journal of Neural Engineering;and serves on the editorial boards of nine journals. He also translates his research into real-world applications; he has 12 patents awarded or pending and 26 patent disclosures.

Durand’s work has been recognized on campus and around the world. At Case Western Reserve, he’s received the Case School of Engineering’s Research Leadership Award (2005) and Innovation Research Award (2012), as well as the university’s Carl F. Wittke Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching (1991) and John S. Diekhoff Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching (1994). In addition, he has been named a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering (1998), the Institute of Physics (2004) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (2010).

Jim Kazura, Professor of International Health, Medicine and Pathology

Jim Kazura and VP Robert Miller

Jim Kazura (left) with Miller

Kazura’s work is credited with helping eradicate disease and improve public health policy around the world. Kazura leads research on how immunity and genetics affect susceptibility to infectious diseases—particularly those prevalent in the developing world, such as malaria and parasitic worm infections.

He also is adept at translating these findings into clinical applications, conducting field studies around the world to uncover a way to eradicate disease. Just last year, his research showed that insecticide-treated bed nets reduce the transmission of malaria to almost undetectable levels.

Kazura has served on the university faculty for more than 35 years, moving from an instructor position through to full professor and, now, as director of the Center for Global Health and Diseases and director of International Affairs in Health Sciences. He serves as editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and on a number of National Institutes of Health study sections and advisory panels. At the moment, he is principal or co-investigator on four National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is the university’s project director on one from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Peter Ritchken, Professor of Banking and Finance

Peter Ritchken headshot CWRU

Peter Ritchken

With more than 75 journal articles, seven book chapters and six books to his credit, Ritchken is a renowned for his work on valuation, risk management and financial engineering. His work varies from accessible to highly technical, but, no matter the topic, is regularly well received within his field.

For the past 21 years, Ritchken has worked with researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to improve forecasting of the term structure of expected inflation and inflation risk. He has investigated the benefits of regulatory proposals for monitoring bank risk-taking and the fair pricing of risk-based deposit insurance in the presence of moral hazard. Ritchken’s work is appreciated at the highest levels of government, with former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke using it at policy meetings and Ritchken and colleagues presenting it to federal leadership, including the president of the United States.

Ritchken founded the Master of Science in Management–Finance program at the Weatherhead School of Management and twice received the school’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award (1988 and 2010). The school honored his research work in the mid-90s with its Research Recognition Award.

Michael Weiss, the Cowan-Blum Professor of Cancer Research and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry

Michael Weiss Bud Baeslack CWRU

Michael Weiss (left) with Provost Bud Baeslack, after receiving the award

After decades of speculation, Weiss and an international research team uncovered in 2013 precisely how insulin binds to cells to allow them to transform sugar into energy. This was just the latest in his insulin-related discoveries. In 1991, he used nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to describe the structure of insulin. More recently, he developed a preliminary version of insulin that does not need to be refrigerated—a critical breakthrough for those with diabetes in the developing world. His research has led to a series of 13 published or pending patent applications describing novel insulin analogs to improve patient care.

Weiss’ lab also recently discovered the pathway for male sexual development is less stable than other genetic programs. Their findings showed it only takes a slight deviation from the normal process to dramatically alter fetal sexual development.

Weiss arrived at Case Western Reserve University in 1999; since joining the faculty, he’s received the Richard Day Distinguished Young Alumnus Award from Hawken School and the Maurice Saltzman Award from Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation. He also was elected to the American Association of Physicians and Beta Gamma Sigma, a business school honorary society thanks to his dedication to his studies in the MBA program at the Weatherhead School of Management.

Engineering professor Eric Baer wins polymer research prize
Friday, May 09, 2014

Eric Baer CWRUEric Baer, Distinguished University Professor and Herbert Henry Dow Professor of Science and Engineering in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, has been awarded the Paul J. Flory Polymer Research Prize.

The award was given at the 22nd World Forum on Advanced Materials (POLYCHAR 22), held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, April 7-11. Baer also presented the event’s keynote address, titled “New Nanofiber and Nanolayer Systems by Forced Assembly.”

Baer received the Paul J. Flory Polymer Research Prize for his extraordinary contributions to polymer science and engineering. The award is named for distinguished American chemist Paul J. Flory, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1974 for his research achievements in the physical chemistry of macromolecules.

The Daily 5-8-14

CSE’s Sunniva Collins, MS '91, PhD '94 wins Technical Educator Award
Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Sunniva Collins, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been honored by the Cleveland Technical Societies Council with its 2014 Technical Educator Award.
The award is bestowed annually to individuals in the field of engineering who have demonstrated outstanding performance, creative ability and technical conduct in their profession.
Collins will accept her award at the organization’s annual Scholarship & Achievement Awards event on Monday, May 5. 

Student, faculty projects to be featured at Research ShowCASE 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

a panoramic view of Research Showcase at CWRUClevelanders could have used a robotic snow-mower—especially this winter.

That and other student-faculty innovations will be demonstrated at Research ShowCASE 2014, a day where nearly 600 Case Western Reserve University researchers, scientists and scholars come together for collaboration, creativity and innovation. The showcase also features research by area high school students, in collaboration with university researchers.

The event is Friday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center.

The showcase allows students, faculty, staff, alumni, business and industry leaders a chance to see research with real-world applications explained and demonstrated first-hand.

The event opens with keynote speaker Stanton Gerson, Distinguished University Professor, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Seidman Cancer Center, who will present “Cleveland Collaborative Science: The Successful Path of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and the National Center for Regenerative Medicine at CWRU.”

At 2 p.m., Joseph Jankowski, the university’s chief innovation officer, will lead the inaugural Student Innovation Symposium, in which attendees can learn about their intellectual property rights, network with peer and regional leaders, and hear presentations from programs that offer opportunities and resources for students.

For information and to view the full schedule of events

Among the ShowCASE highlights are:

  • “The Golden Age of Arcade Games: Video Game Design from Theory to Practice,” by Jared Bendis, the Kelvin Smith Library’s new media officer and also an award-winning installation artist, photographer and teacher. He is a contributor to WCPN’s “Sound of Applause” show.
  • “CWRU Snow-Mower: An Autonomous Mobile Platform for Education, Competition, and Fun!” by Matthew Klein from mechanical and aerospace engineering. After the cold Cleveland winter, many people may want to sit back and watch a robot shovel the snow. Take a look at the future for snow removal.
  • “Animals as Models for Robot Mobility and Autonomy: Crawling, Walking, Running, Climbing and Flying” by Roger Quinn, the Arthur P. Armington Professor of Engineering. Come see how the insect world has inspired robots that can go places and do things that, in some circumstances, are impossible for humans.
  • “Restoring Sensation in Amputees with Nerve Cuff Electrodes,” by David Tan, doctoral student in biomedical engineering.
  • “May Contain Unvaccinated Children: Imposing a Duty to Warn to Address Rising Nonmedical Childhood Vaccine Exemptions” by Katherine Makielski from the School of Law.
  • “Evaluation of We Run This City – a School-Based Fitness Program” by Elaine Borowski, the Angela Bown Williamson Professor in Community Nutrition in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Medicine and director of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods.
  • “From Market to Mouth: Fruit and Vegetable Purchasing and Preparation Patterns among Farmers’ Market Customers,” by Darcy Freedman, associate professor from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
  • “The Doctor Will See You (and You and You) Now: A Shared Medical Visit Pilot Program” by Andrew Morris, a graduate student in public health at the School of Medicine. Learn how people with the same disease, like diabetes, can share a medical appointment and learn more about managing their illness in this pilot group doctor’s visit.

For information and to view the full schedule of events

Where are they now? Career Center’s survey gives post-graduation report for Class of 2013
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CWRU First Destination Survey CoverAlumni of the undergraduate Class of 2013 have the highest rate of employment or post-graduation study of Case Western Reserve graduates in recent years, according to results of the Career Center’s 2013 First Destination Survey. Eighty-eight percent of the Class of 2013 either is employed full-time or seeking advanced degrees. This is in comparison to 86 percent of 2012 graduates, 84 percent for the Class of 2011, 81 percent for 2009 and 2010 alumni, and 84 percent for the Class of 2008.

In recent years, the job market has been grim for many college graduates, with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reporting earlier this year that 44 percent of new college graduates were underemployed—or in jobs that did not aptly use their degrees—and up to 8 percent were unemployed, depending on major.

But, according to Case Western Reserve’s First Destination Survey, 46 percent of 2013 graduates were employed full time—74 percent of whom reported their jobs required college degrees and were related to their fields of study—while 42 percent sought advanced degrees. Five percent were available for employment, while 7 percent pursued other opportunities.

The annual study sought data from 871 graduating seniors; overall, post-graduation data was collected for nearly 80 percent of the Class of 2013 (684 graduates).

The data shows the lowest rate of unemployment in the past 10 years; the 5 percent rate is down from 13 percent in 2006 and 8 percent for the Class of 2012.

“It’s really one of the most interesting reports that we’ve seen in a number of years, and I think a part of that is our students are doing really interesting, exciting and relevant things by way of graduate and professional school studies as well as starting their careers,” said Tom Matthews, executive director of the Career Center. “Our students are being very broadly educated, and I think that affords them a greater myriad of opportunities.”

Employment opportunities

Just where are these young alums starting out? Some organizations hired multiple Case Western Reserve graduates, including:

  • University Hospitals (13 alumni)
  • Teach for America (11)
  • Epic Systems (10)
  • Accenture (9)
  • Cleveland Clinic (8)
  • General Electric (8)
  • Microsoft Corp. (8)
  • Case Western Reserve University (6)
  • Swagelok (6)

Other prominent companies hiring CWRU grads included Amazon, Deloitte, Google, KeyBank and Philips Healthcare, among many others.

Overall, 34 percent of graduates who are employed full time are in engineering, 12 percent in information technology and 9 percent in nursing.

“Students continue to make career decisions based on their values,” Matthews said, noting a large increase in hiring by Teach for America and a steady stream of graduates entering the Peace Corps.

Two-thirds found careers in the Midwest, while 12 percent headed south, 11 percent to the Northeast and 9 percent to the West. Two percent are working internationally.

Starting salaries

Overall, the median salary range for the Class of 2013 was $50,000-54,999. When divided by school, median salary ranges were:

  • Case School of Engineering: $60,000-64,999 (increase of $5,000 from prior year)
  • College of Arts and Sciences: $30,000-34,999 (no change from prior year)
  • Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing: $45,000-49,999 (decrease of $5,000 from prior year)
  • Weatherhead School of Management: $45,000-49,999 (no change from prior year)

Salary data by major is provided in full in the online report.

Higher education

More than 280 students were pursuing graduate/professional degrees at a variety of schools across the country, such as:

  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Yale University

Plus, 39 percent of alumni continuing on to graduate school chose to study at Case Western Reserve.

Many are pursuing these degrees with significant scholarship support, earning Fulbright and Gates Cambridge awards as well as the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and more.

Experiential learning

Whether heading to full-time careers or full-time education, the majority of Class of 2013 alumni noted the experiential learning opportunities—including faculty-led research, internships, practicums or community service—at Case Western Reserve helped prepare them for life beyond campus.

Further, the recent alumni noted these experiences helped them most improve:

  • technical job content skills (51 percent)
  • communication skills (46 percent)
  • strong work ethic (44 percent).

All nursing students completed an experiential learning activity, followed by 97 percent of engineering majors, 96 percent of arts and sciences majors, and 92 percent of management students.

Matthews said students today tend to start these experiential learning activities earlier—some even in high school—so they are arriving on campus “savvier” about internships and other opportunities than those five or 10 years ago.

Plus, they’re seeking help right away. Matthews said that on the first day of classes at the start of the 2013-14 academic year, there was a line extending out the Career Center door. “We’ve never had that before,” he said. “And interestingly enough, a lot of them were first-year students. Their first day of their first semester on campus, they were here, ready to prepare for internships and their careers.”

Matthews noted that individual career counseling appointments as well as walk-in consulting hours (Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) have become increasingly popular among students.

To learn more about services offered at the Career Center,

For more information on the study, or to read the report in detail, download the PDF.

The Daily 

Using big data to identify cancers
Friday, March 21, 2014
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and colleagues used “big data” analytics to predict if a patient is suffering from aggressive triple-negative breast cancer, slower-moving cancers or non-cancerous lesions with 95 percent accuracy.
If the tiny patterns they found in magnetic resonance images prove consistent in further studies, the technique may enable doctors to use an MRI scan to diagnose more aggressive cancers earlier and fast track these patients for therapy. Their work is published online in the journal Radiology.

The work comes just two months after senior author Anant Madabhushi and another group of researchers showed they can detect differences between persistent and treatable forms of head and neck cancers caused by exposure to human papillomavirus, with 87.5 percent accuracy. In that study, digital images were made from slides of patients’ tumors.

 Next up, Madabhushi’s lab recently received a $534,000, two-year grant from the Department of Defense to find the patterns of indolent versus aggressive cancer in the lungs. The goal is to diagnose the presence of aggressive lung cancers from CT scans alone.
“Literally, what we’re trying to do is squeeze out the information we’re not able to see just by looking at an image,” said Madabhushi, a professor of biomedical engineering at Case School of Engineering and director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics.
Searching for telltale markers
Madabhushi worked with Shannon C. Agner at Rutgers University and Mark A. Rosen, MD; Sarah Englander; Mitchell D. Schnall, MD; Michael D. Feldman, MD; Paul Zhang, MD; and Carolyn Miles; MD, at the University of Pennsylvania, on the breast cancer study.
They analyzed MR images of breast lesions from 65 women. The researchers sifted through hundreds of gigabytes of image data from each patient to try to find differences that distinguish the different subtypes of breast cancers from each other.

Madabhushi and his colleagues discovered that triple-negative cancer, benign fibroadenoma that is commonly mistaken for triple-negative, and two other common types of breast cancer—estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) and human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2-postive (HER2+)—reflect different textures when images are enhanced with contrasting agents.
The scientists mathematically modeled the textures that appear as the tissues absorb contrast-enhancing dye. The model revealed that changes over just milliseconds distinguished triple-negative from benign lesions. The investigators used machine learning and pattern recognition methods to aid in diagnoses among the three types of cancers based on texture changes and other quantitative evidence.
“Today, if a woman or her doctor finds a lump, she gets a mammogram and then a biopsy for molecular analysis, which can take two weeks or up to a month,” Madabhushi said. “If we can predict the cancer is triple-negative, we can fast track the patient for biopsy and treatment. Especially in cases with triple-negative cancer, two to four weeks saved can be crucial.”
For the three types of cancers, the early diagnosis would enable quick and personalized treatments. ER+ and HER2+ respond to different therapies. An MRI could also become a regular screening device for women who have family histories of these cancers.
Other cancers
Using much the same science, Madabhushi and fellow researchers from Washington University developed a way to distinguish between recurrent and treatable forms of a specific head and neck cancer called human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. That work was published earlier this year in the American Journal of Surgical Pathology.
“Most sufferers tend to have good outcomes, but a small subset—about 10 percent—doesn’t,” he said. “There’s nothing out there to predict which.
“We developed an algorithm and found patterns that allowed us to distinguish between the two with 80 to 90 percent accuracy.”
After scanning biopsy and tumor resection slides from 160 patients into a computer, the researchers found they could use nuclei of the cancerous cells to characterize and measure cell distribution and clustering patterns.
They found where the nuclei of cells had reverted to a more primitive form, a condition called anaplasia, the cells were tightly clustered and the patient suffered recurrent cancer. They graphed the nuclei in each of the images and found there was little to no overlap between the highly clustered recurrent cancer and the comparatively disperse treatable form.
The results, if confirmed through further studies, could lead to milder treatment for patients who have the non-recurrent cancer and more aggressive treatment for those with recurrent cancer, the researchers say.
“Personalized medicine is possible using this,” Madabhushi said. “Using biopsy specimens, pathologists can’t tell one from the other, but big data analytics can.”
His lab’s newest project is to find characteristics that can identify cancer or precancerous conditions in the lungs, and distinguish among different types of lung cancers.
The majority of lung cancers are diagnosed at advanced stages, beyond the period in which surgery can be successful. Survival rate for one of the worst forms, non small-cell lung cancer, remains at 15 to 18 percent. In this study, the lab will use x-ray images taken with computed tomography scans to build their digital image library.
The other researchers on the lung cancer study are Philip Linden, MD, associate professor of surgery; Robert Gilkeson, MD, professor of radiology; Frank Jacono, MD, associate professor of medicine; and Michael Yang, MD, assistant professor of pathology, at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine; and postdoctoral associates Mirabela Rusu and Mahdi Orooji from the Madabhushi lab.
On the oropharyngeal cancer study, Madabhushi worked with Sahirzeeshan Ali, a Case Western Reserve PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science, and James Lewis Jr., MD; Lingquin Luo; and Wade L. Thorstad, MD; from Washington University.

CWRU graduate, professional programs’ ”U.S. News” rankings announced
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Case Western Reserve’s schools of medicine, engineering and law all improved their rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of the nation’s top graduate and professional schools this year, with one program—health law—earning recognition as the third-best in the entire country.

“Our health law program was the first of its kind when we opened the Law-Medicine Center in 1953,” said Interim Dean Jessica Berg, herself a member of the center’s faculty. “We have only benefited from the extraordinary gains of our medical school and the region’s growing emphasis on health care and biomedical innovation. We are honored to be so highly recognized by our peers.”

In June, the university announced a landmark partnership with Cleveland Clinic to create a state-of-the-art structure to house both tracks of the medical school’s education efforts, the university program and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Ranked 25th last year, the school climbed to 23rd in the rankings released Tuesday.

“This improvement is particularly welcome in light of the work we are doing with Cleveland Clinic to set new standards for health care education in the 21st century,” Dean Pamela B. Davis said. “It also testifies to the talent and dedication of our faculty, who continue to secure significant federal funding despite the challenges we faced during the sequester.”

The medical school’s specialty rankings slipped slightly, with family medicine falling two notches to 14th and pediatrics declining one slot to 15th.

The Case School of Engineering climbed five spots to 46th nationwide. The intensity of the competition in this area is evident in that the school was one of seven tied for that ranking (the others were Brown, Iowa State, New York University, Northeastern, Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis). The school improved its figures for peer assessment, average quantitative score on the Graduate Record Exam, faculty membership in the National Academy of Engineering, and overall research funding as well as research funding per faculty member. The biomedical engineering program slipped one slot, to 15thnationwide.

In 2010, the university and school collaborated on a strategic hiring initiative that focused on recruiting new faculty in key areas of strength and opportunity. Out of more than 400 applicants, the school appointed 11 in such areas as advanced materials, energy and human health.

“The U.S. News rankings reflect the achievements we have been able to make by drawing on the intellect and inventiveness of existing and new faculty, increasing focus on industry needs and new funding opportunities, and impressive engagement of our alumni and other stakeholders,” Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk said. “In short, it has been a team effort. I thank everyone who contributed to this year’s progress, and look forward to continuing our progress in the year to come.”

Finally, the law school climbed from 68th to 64th overall, thanks in large part to improvements in graduates’ bar passage and employment numbers, as well as a more competitive acceptance rate and improved undergraduate grade point averages among those accepted. The international law program slipped two slots over last year, to 15th.

“These results illustrate the momentum we have been building with regard to emphasizing our areas of strength and providing students the academic and extracurricular experiences required to succeed,” said Interim Dean Michael P. Scharf, a professor of international law. “As we launch a new curriculum this fall, we expect to see even greater gains for our graduates.”

The MBA program ranking for the Weatherhead School of Management fell 13 notches to 65th this year, while the part-time program dropped from 30th to 46th. In addition, the graduate program in biological sciences, last ranked in 2010, fell from 34th to 38th.

Some of the magazine’s rankings are calculated only every few years. Social work, for example, saw its last update in 2012, when the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences’ program climbed to No. 9. Similarly, U.S. News last ranked nursing in 2011, when the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing stood at 15th. The magazine does not rank dental programs.

To see a full list of rankings, visit

CWRU student-led enterprise wins Ohio Clean Energy Challenge, advances to regional
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Sprav cofounders Craig Lewis, Andrew Schad and CJ Valle

Sprav cofounders (from left) Craig Lewis, Andrew Schad and CJ Valle

Sprav Water LLC, a company created by students from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art to develop “smart” showerhead meters that can save water and cut energy bills, has won a statewide collegiate clean energy competition.

By capturing the 2014 Ohio Clean Energy Challenge, the Sprav team earned $10,000 and a shot at $100,000 at the Midwest regional competition hosted by the Clean Energy Trust in Chicago on April 3. Winning teams from Chicago and five other regionals will advance to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C., this summer.

The Sprav team consists of Case Western Reserve students Craig Lewis, CJ Valle and Thomas Emelko, and recent art institute graduate Andrew Schad.

The idea for Sprav actually began in early 2011 as an extra-credit project in Associate Professor Mark DeGuire’s Engineering 145 class.

“Craig, CJ and Andrew have worked hard over the last two years refining their product,” said Bob Sopko, director of the university’s Blackstone LaunchPad—a program for helping students turn their ideas into thriving businesses. “Initially taking second place in the CWRU St. Gobain competition (2011-12), they returned the following year to win. Since then, they have continued their efforts to develop a market-ready product.”

Sprav on a shower headSprav is a wireless meter that clips on to a showerhead and tracks water temperature and use, sending the information directly to a consumer’s smartphone or tablet. A light at the top of the device flashes from green to yellow to red to indicate when too much water is being used. The $25 design promises to cut shower costs by as much as 20 percent.

The Sprav team members impressed judges at the Clean Energy Challenge at Cleveland State University on Feb. 28 with both their technology and business plan.

The Clean Energy Challenge, in which nine collegiate student teams from throughout Ohio pitched their technologies and business plans to a panel of industry experts and investment professionals, was co-sponsored by NorTech and the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio.

Five of the nine teams were from Case Western Reserve.

The $10,000 award will go toward intellectual property protection and beta testing, said Lewis, a macromolecular science and engineering major from Zanesville, Ohio.

“I think it will help us continue to build and improve the product,” he said.

Clean Energy Challenge is part of the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition established by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to create a network of student-focused, clean-energy business competitions.

The Ohio Challenge supports DOE’s strategy to establish broader innovation and commercialization efforts, and to build a nationwide energy entrepreneurship ecosystem. DOE selected the Clean Energy Trust in Chicago to administer the Midwest Regional Competition, which covers Ohio and seven other states.

The Daily 3/5/14

CWRU part of new national manufacturing effort
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Focus on lightweight metals for transportation, military and more

Case Western Reserve University will contribute expertise and key facilities to a $148 million lightweight metal manufacturing research consortium that President Barack Obama announced yesterday.

“I don’t want the next big job-creating discovery to come from Germany or China or Japan. I want it to be made here in America,” Obama said during the announcement.

Primarily sponsored by the Department of Defense, the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be led by Columbus-based Edison Welding Institute, the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. The institute, called ALMMII for short, is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to this region over the next five years.

Headquartered near Detroit, the public-private institute includes more than 60 companies, universities and nonprofits from around the country. Its goal is to grow a regional ecosystem of education, innovation and production of state-of-the-art materials for consumers, businesses and the nation’s armed forces.

Case Western Reserve brings renowned scholarly leadership in materials and extensive processing capacity to the landmark effort. Its Case Metals Processing Laboratory, for example, includes a 350-ton metal squeeze caster, induction furnaces and magnesium melting capability, and an array of alloy development and deformation processing facilities.

“Leading our efforts will likely be two faculty with longstanding expertise in lightweight metals, John Lewandowski and Gerhard Welsch, and metals casting research faculty member David Schwam,” said James McGuffin-Cawley chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at CWRU.

“We also have two new young metallurgists on faculty, Jennifer Carter and Matthew Willard, with relevant interests and expertise,” McGuffin-Cawley said. “For the university, area manufacturing and the national effort, the timing of these new hires couldn’t be better.”

Case Western Reserve’s participation in ALMMII represents a logical extension of the university’s leadership role in Youngstown-based America Makes, formerly known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Using funding through America Makes, Case School of Engineering and Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric and partners are developing a three-dimensional manufacturing process for titanium—a metal with a high strength-to-weight ratio.

“This is yet another step in the staircase to revive manufacturing in the U.S. and across this region,” McGuffin-Cawley said.

He has long argued that strength in manufacturing feeds the creativity and innovations needed to keep regional and national economies strong.

After shedding jobs for a decade, U.S. manufacturers have added 622,000 jobs since early 2010, including more than 80,000 over the past four months, according to a White House press release announcing the effort. Manufacturing production is growing at its fastest pace in more than a decade, and Obama said he is committed to building on that progress.

Building on the success of America Makes, the pilot for the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, the administration launched competitions for ALMMI and two more institutes with a federal commitment of $200 million across five agencies—the Departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA and the National Science Foundation—in May 2013.

ALMMII is charged with moving advanced lightweight metals from the research lab into tomorrow’s cars, trucks, airplanes and ships. Lighter vehicles for the military, industry and consumers, alike, have better performance and use less fuel. They can carry larger loads and travel the same distances at lower cost and with fewer carbon emissions.

Case Western Reserve is already working on other complementary projects. With America Makes funding, the university leads a national effort to develop additive manufacturing methods to extend the life of heavy machine tools, such as dies used to make engine blocks for automobiles, or to make design alterations, instead of spending up to $1 million or more to make a new die.

Carnegie Mellon University and Case Western Reserve also are leading a research program aimed at learning how to control and understand microstructure and mechanical properties of parts made with two kinds of additive manufacturing to ensure parts qualify for aerospace, medical and other uses.

Further, the university is a partner in a $1.8 million Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration program, led by N.E.O. Foundation of Cleveland and Medina County Workforce Development. The goal is to align educational services with the needs of new manufacturing operations.

The federal government will invest $70 million in ALMMII, with more than $70 million more in matching funds from private and other public sources.

Other academic and research institutions involved in the effort reach from Massachusetts to Tennessee, Texas and Colorado. Other Ohio members of ALMMII are Battelle Memorial Institute and University of Dayton Research Institute.

The Daily 2/26/14

Crowdsourced testers prefer new cyber search method created by CWRU computer scientists
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Search interface allows for more efficient, faster searches to find information on Internet and hand-held devices

GQ Zhang

GQ Zhang, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, division chief of Medical Informatics at Case Western Reserve and an author of the study

Computer scientists at Case Western Reserve University have developed a new tool to search and fetch electronic files that saves users time by more quickly identifying and retrieving the most relevant information on their computers and hand-held devices.

Anonymous testers recruited through crowdsourcing preferred the new search tool nearly two-to-one over a keyword-based lookup interface and the most commonly available lookup search interface using Google.

Side-by-side comparisons showed the scientists’ Conjunctive Exploratory Navigation Interface (CENI), which combines two search modes and a more comprehensive way to organize and tag data, is more effective than looking up items by matched keywords alone.

CENI, an on-screen portal where users access data by browsing through menus of topics and typing in keywords, provides a more focused search and retrieves the most pertinent information.

In one test, for example, a keyword search came up with 89 responses to a question: “What are the typical vision problems associated with diabetes?” CENI came up with the most applicable 13 by selecting appropriate menus.

The study is now online in the open-access Journal of Medical Internet Research.

“Most people have an iPhone or laptop that stores a wide variety of information and, often, you can’t find it when you need it, even though you know it’s there,” said GQ Zhang, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, division chief of medical informatics at Case Western Reserve and an author of the study. “Or, you go to a website where the content has been divided under different areas, and what you’re looking for fits several. If you choose one area but whoever filed the data chose another area, you may not find that information.”

CENI overcomes this limitation by allowing data to be tagged into as many areas as relevant, and provides an interface and system that leverages multiple tags for each single data item.

Zhang and Licong Cui, a PhD student in Zhang’s lab, developed CENI.

Prototype on health website

They have a working prototype designed specifically for the health resource websiteNetWellness. This not-for-profit site allowed the public to ask health professionals at Case Western Reserve, Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati health-related questions. More than 60,000 questions and answers are searchable using CENI. The interface is currently not available to the public.

Health information is highly sought after. A Pew Foundation survey found that 80 percent of Internet users have searched for health information, and 60 percent used that information to help make health-care decisions.

But a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that accessing health information using simple terms on such search engines as Google and Yahoo was inefficient. Less than a quarter of the searches led to relevant information, the study found.

This kind of search, called “lookup,” can overwhelm the user with a long list of document links the user must then sift through, Zhang said. “If results do not show up in the first couple of pages, they are lost because the user is not going to go through millions of links manually.”

CENI combines lookup and another search method, called “exploratory navigation.” The exploratory mode enables users who lack a specific target or have trouble forming descriptive lookup terms to use menus of topics to navigate and explore information.

Exploratory navigation, however, has limitations if each item is tagged with a single topic. On the NetWellness site, for example, a question concerning kidney disease because the patient suffers pain in the kidney region, especially after taking certain medicines, may be tagged under a single topic: kidney disease, pain or the medicine.

To make questions and answers less hit-or-miss, “we designed a simple approach called ‘multi-tagging’ that allows the system to tag as many topics as it takes to cover the bases,” Zhang said. The menus produced would enable a person suffering from multiple issues, like the one in the question above, to click on any of several available topics and quickly narrow the search to questions and answers most relevant to them.

To be useful to a greater audience, the scientists built text analytics into CENI and annotated tag words to account for synonyms and related concepts, Cui explained. “So if you didn’t explicitly type a tag word,” she said, “you would still get the content.”

“And you can find something if you use only descriptive properties,” Zhang said. “If you’re searching for a needle and can only remember ‘small pointy metal thing,’ you should still be able to find it.”

Anonymous testers

To evaluate the interface for consumer use, the researchers recruited 90 testers through Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing marketplace. Rebecca Carter, a PhD student in epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, assisted in the crowdsourcing design.

The testers were asked to perform nine tasks, with six searches in lookup mode and three in exploratory. Overall, 96 percent found relevant answers using the researchers’ CENI interface, 89 percent using NetWellness’ keyword-based search and 87 percent using Google.

They rated the new interface easier to use than the others.

“I liked being able to easily select multiple topics to narrow my search quickly,” said one tester. “I found it to be the easiest search method because it decreased the number of unrelated search results.”

A second said, “I could click on any number of general topics and type in something to narrow down the search and quickly get what I was searching for.”

“It helps even a less-experienced user to find and target the topics and answers he is looking for,” said another.

Although most respondents said the interface was easier to use, some of them, nonetheless, preferred the other modes because they were more familiar.

For more than health

Cui currently uses CENI on her laptop to organize, search and fetch all of her files. “This technology isn’t specific to the NetWellness’ health question content, but can be used to organize and retrieve most any kind of information,” she said.

Zhang and Cui have filed for a patent on the approach.

For a sports fan who wants to monitor the latest news and events, few articles in sports sections actually use the word “sport.” So a keyword search using “sports” would most likely miss the majority of relevant information. Using the CENI approach, “sports” would be expanded to include the specific names of different sports, key players, major events and more, the researchers say. But the user would just select “sports” in the topic menu to collect the list of article links.

“It could be used to transform the organization of many websites using multi-tagging,” Zhang said. “And, down the road, it could be used to reorganize digital contents on our desktop computers or portable devices, to make it easier for information retrieval.”

The Daily 
Alumnus commits $2.6 million to help launch data science program
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Case Western Reserve University’s efforts to launch an undergraduate major in data science this fall just got a significant boost from a business leader who knows a great deal about the subject. Bob Herbold, the chief operating officer (COO) of Microsoft during its period of greatest growth, has committed $2.6 million to endow the Robert J. Herbold Professor of Informatics and Analytics at the Case School of Engineering.

“The ability to evaluate and apply data has always been an integral part of an organization’s success,” Herbold said. “But the unprecedented amount of information available today demands far more sophisticated approaches to analysis and execution. Case Western Reserve’s historic strengths give the university a unique advantage in preparing students to seize these emerging opportunities.”

Herbold earned a master’s degree in mathematics and a doctorate in computer science from Case Western Reserve University. He went on to hone his own expertise in assessing data during 26 years at Procter & Gamble, the last five as senior vice president of advertising and information services. After arriving at Microsoft in 1994, Herbold worked quickly to standardize the company’s data and processes, an effort that dramatically increased the timeliness and availability of reliable, actionable information. During his seven-year tenure as Microsoft’s COO, the company’s revenue quadrupled, and its profits climbed seven-fold.

“Bob Herbold’s career testifies to the tremendous power that information has to improve performance and advance innovation,” Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder said. “This professorship will help us give future generations the skills required to excel in this new environment.”

The amount and availability of data are expanding so rapidly that McKinsey & Co. estimates that the nation faces a shortage of between 140,000 and 190,000 deep analytics workers—and 1.5 million managers with data expertise—within the next four years. McKinsey also estimates the U.S. could save $300 billion on health care alone with more effective use of data.

Even more important, it could help save lives. In 2012, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Clinic and Explorys, a Cleveland-based health informatics company, collaborated to examine nearly 1 million patient records from a 13-year period. The analysis, led by MetroHealth’s Chief Informatics Officer and CWRU medical school professor David Kaelber, helped identify characteristics of patients most at risk for blood clots. The work validated the results of an earlier Norwegian study that took more than a dozen years to complete; with Explorys’ technology, the Cleveland work lasted about three months, with a sample size that was 40 times larger.

Big data carries applications for safety analysis of roads and bridges fitted with sensors, increased efficiency for shipping and retail companies, and for manufacturing to become more efficient and responsive to people’s needs. At one of Herbold’s former employers, Procter & Gamble, the significance of data-informed decision-making is so profound that the company provides more than 50,000 employees “decision cockpits” at their computers—user-friendly visualizations of aggregated data to show staff what is happening across multiple areas—and inform their choices about next steps.

“The potential that exists today to enhance operations and outcomes is nearly limitless,” Herbold said. “Those who understand how data works and what it can yield will carry enormous advantage in the new economy.”

Case Western Reserve’s schools of engineering and medicine already have partnered to launch academic programs in systems biology and bioinformatics, but the university’s 2013-2018 strategic plan calls for even more aggressive expansion in research and education related to Big Data. One of the first initiatives in this area is a potential undergraduate major in data science. Led by Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Don Feke, faculty across the university are working together to develop a program expected to combine coursework in advanced mathematics, statistics and computer programming with study of applications of data in such realms as energy, health and manufacturing. The major also would involve extensive hands-on work on smaller projects and a capstone effort, as well as internships or a co-op experience.

“Our depth and breadth of faculty expertise in these subjects is remarkable,” Feke said. “Our goal is work together with these academic leaders to design a program that draws on our unique blend of knowledge and capabilities to expand opportunities for our students.”

Feke emphasized that he and his colleagues are still exploring the precise content of the program, which then will be reviewed by appropriate faculty governance groups. The offering is likely to evolve and improve through those deliberations, he said, leading to a particularly relevant and ambitious offering for Case Western Reserve undergraduates. In addition, Feke said, the group also hopes to develop a post-graduate certificate program in data science.

Herbold returns to the Case Western Reserve campus later this month as the featured speaker for the Case School of Engineering’s annual Engineers Week banquet Feb. 20 at the Intercontinental Hotel.

CWRU and Lincoln Electric lead 3-D manufacturing project
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Case Western Reserve University, in alliance with the Lincoln Electric Co. and a group of business partners, has been selected to lead a project to convert the laser hot-wire welding process developed by Lincoln Electric into a high-output, three-dimensional additive manufacturing process.


The $700,000 project is among 15 recently announced by America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, which is spearheading next-generation manufacturing technologies based on 3-D printing. The projects are winners of America Makes’ second round of funding.

Researchers and business partners developing the new 3-D process aim for a quick conversion.

“The goal is to have an impact on commercial manufacturing as soon as possible,” said James McGuffin-Cawley, chair of the Case School of Engineering’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and one of the project leaders.

Badri Narayanan, manager of materials research at Lincoln Electric, expects the project to push the boundaries of this process to generate structural components and functional surfaces.

Rounding out the research team is Roger Quinn, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Case Western Reserve, and Paul Denney, senior laser applications engineer at Lincoln Electric Automation.

In addition to Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric, the industrial partners include: RTI International Metals (Pittsburgh), a leading producer of titanium mill products and components; rp+m (Avon Lake, Ohio), a diversified engineering company that uses 3-D printing technologies to create client-specific solutions; and AZZ/WSI Inc. (Norcross, Ga.), a leader in developing and delivering design repairs, component upgrades and specialty maintenance services for energy intensive industries.

Lincoln Electric is an international leader in the design, development and manufacture of arc welding products, robotic arc welding systems, plasma and oxyfuel-cutting equipment, and in the brazing and soldering alloys market.

Lincoln Electric pioneered the laser hot-wire process for steel cladding, and has shown it to be adaptable to additive manufacturing through a pilot project funded by America Makes in the first round of funding.

In this new process, metal parts are built up using a combination of wire-feed, laser melting, and resistance heating to achieve a high degree of metallurgical control in concert with a high deposition rate. This project, supported by federal and private money, will explore the adaptability of this process for building parts with titanium- and nickel-based alloys for aerospace and marine applications.

Fashion and technology merge at "In the Dark" show at MOCA Cleveland
Thursday, January 30, 2014
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Fashion meets technology at an avant-garde fashion exhibit and competition called "In the Dark," which debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30 at theMuseum of Contemporary Art (11400 Euclid Ave.) in Cleveland and travels to three other venues around town during the next few months. 


Students from Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University School of Engineering are working to create three innovative designs that merge art and technology with light.

The competitors have been working on their innovative, wearable designs since October. Guests will be able to choose their favorites at each venue (scroll down for details). Those results will play a role in the final judging in April.

"My design draws from centuries of European styles and fabric techniques," CIA sculpture sophomore Graham Baldwin says of his piece, titled "Compendium."

Baldwin is incorporating 3-D printing, which he says can be difficult when dealing with multiple pieces that must be correctly aligned. "The elbows were printed 13 times until the shape and design worked most effectively," he says.

CIA students Katie David, Jarrod Davis and Leah Yochman and CWRU student Zach Lerner teamed up to create what they call "H20 Glow." The group says that the garment uses clear tubes with blacklight LEDs to expose the luminescent properties of tonic water.

The third entry, titled "Pulse," is by CIA students Ben Horvat, Eric Payne and Marcy Kniss and CWRU student Ray Krajci. The group says the piece is a flowing garment that combines chic elegance with motion sensor light technology.

Tickets for Thursday's event at MOCA, the first showing of the competition, are free for museum members and students (with valid ID), and $8 for nonmembers. Go to purchase. As part of the design process, students will continue to revise their garments after each of the first three exhibits. The final judging will take place in April at the fourth venue.

The other venues:

6-8 p.m. p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 at Brite Winter arts and music festival in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood.

1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at Cleveland Mini Maker Faire by Ingenuity at the Cleveland Public Library's main branch downtown. 

8 p.m. Saturday, April 12 at the Great Lakes Science Center's "Yuri's Night Space Party."

Visit for more information.

The Plain Dealer on 1/28/14

Engineering sees greatest proportional growth in undergraduate applications
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Case Western Reserve continued its surge in undergraduate applications this year as more than 21,600 students applied for admission to the Class of 2018. The total represents an 18 percent increase over last year—and a leap of nearly 300 percent since President Barbara R. Snyder arrived in 2007.

“This extraordinary growth is a testament to the exceptional work of our entire admissions team, the faculty and staff who so warmly welcome and encourage prospective students, and our current undergraduates themselves,” President Snyder said. “This university long has offered remarkable opportunities, and the world is starting to realize just how outstanding a Case Western Reserve education can be.”

Indeed, applications from outside the United States topped 3,900, an increase of 25 percent over 2013. Global engagement was a key priority of the university’s last strategic plan, and international enrollment has nearly quadrupled since 2007. Within this country, the New England region saw the greatest proportional increase in applications, at 27 percent. The West placed a close second, with 25 percent growth. Applications from within Ohio climbed just 6 percent. Since 2007 the proportion of students from this state has fallen from about half to just over a quarter of the entering class.

“Case Western Reserve long has been well known among students within our state,” Director of Undergraduate Admissions Bob McCullough explained. “In recent years our recognition has extended more broadly, attracting more top students from across the nation. When those young people return to their communities and talk about their experiences, word spreads—and applications increase.”

Diversity is another core value of the last strategic plan. The proportion of underrepresented minorities in first-year classes has climbed 70 percent since 2007. For the Class of 2018, applications from underrepresented minorities climbed 21 percent over the previous year. That proportion marked a 5 percentage-point increase over the growth between 2012 and 2013.

When it came to students’ academic interests, engineering saw the greatest proportional growth, with 27 percent more students indicating a preference for the subject than in 2013. Management had the second-highest growth, with a year-to-year jump of 25 percent. Also experiencing significant gains were the social sciences, at 16 percent, and the humanities, at 14 percent.

Since 2007 the university’s acceptance rate also has experienced significant change dropping nearly 33 percentage points between then and 2013, when the university admitted 41.9 percent of applicants. The size of this year’s applicant pool is likely to make admission even more competitive for 2014, but admissions officials are not yet speculating on a number. In fact, they are far more focused on making sure interested students learn all they can about the institution before making their college choices. Next month, the campus hosts a President’s Day Open House on Feb. 17, followed by a Theater Scholarship weekend Feb. 21-23 where students can learn about programs, see a student production and submit a portfolio or audition for the opportunity to secure a full-tuition scholarship.

The university will issue admissions decisions by March 20, and students have until May 1 to accept their offers.

Researchers receive grant to build complex polymer nanostructures on plant virus scaffolds
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have received a $540,000 federal grant to devise methods for building minute structures tailored to precisely deliver medicines to tumors or carry dyes that help imaging technologies detect disease, create more efficient nanowires and nanoelectronics, and more.

Building precisely defined structures on the nanoscale has proven a challenge for chemists. To provide control and precision, the researchers propose to build complex polymer nanostructures on scaffolds made of plant viruses, tiny organisms that infect plant cells but are benign outside the plant.

Jon Pokorski, assistant professor of macromolecular science and engineering, and Nicole Steinmetz, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, will use the three-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program to test three methods of synthesizing rod-shaped nanostructures.

Typically, scientists build nanopolymers from small polymer chains that self-assemble and are used to make films, supercrystals and drug delivery devices. But there are always imperfections in the assembly.

“By using a template—the virus—we can produce an evenly dispersed polymer coating that yields more consistent and efficient properties,” Pokorski said. “And this is very modular; it can be applied to lots of uses.”

By controlling the size and surface features, they hope to reduce or eliminate the toxic side effects that can be caused by those two properties during drug delivery, he said.

Steinmetz, an appointee of the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, will build the templates using tobacco mosaic virus. Instead of making spheres, the goal is to make materials that are considerably longer than they are wide, called “high-aspect” materials.

“The physical property makes them more useful for nanowires and electronics and applications in the body,” she said.

The tobacco virus particles are about 300 nanometers by 18 nanometers, but Steinmetz will control sizes using genetic engineering, “which gives us more control than we could have using purely chemical production methods,” she said.

Pokorski will add polymers. The rod shape allows a polymer with one function—such as carrying medicine—to be tied to one end, and another with a different function—such as carrying an imaging dye—to the other.

“Or,” he explained, “we can grow one polymer on the exterior and a different polymer on the interior because the plant virus is a hollow tube.”

In addition to using nanoparticles as vehicles to carry medicines to specific targets, they could be used as electrical connectors, replacing carbon nanotubes used to link nanoelectronics.

Pokorski did his foundational work for the grant in the Center for Layered Polymeric Systems in the Case School of Engineering; Steinmetz at the Case Center for Imaging Research.

CWRU spinoff receives $400,000 NIH award, earns perfect score on research proposal
Thursday, January 09, 2014

Researchers at Affinity Therapeutics, a Case Western Reserve University spinoff whose technology allows the release of drug therapy to be customized and better controlled, recently received another round of federal funding, through the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award.

Affinity Therapeutics received a SHIFT (Small Businesses Helping Investigators to Fuel the Translation of Scientific Discoveries) award, which will provide the biotech company $400,000 over two years.

This marks the second time Affinity Therapeutics has earned a SHIFT award, and the third time since 2011 that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation has funded the company’s work.

“This funding represents the hard work and dedication of the entire Affinity team and positions Affinity to become a serious player in the cardiovascular medical device space,” said Julius Korley, chief scientific officer and president.

Since its founding in 2010, Affinity Therapeutics and its research team have used “affinity-based technology” to regulate the rate at which a drug is released from an implant in a patient’s body. In other words, Affinity’s proprietary controlled-release, tunable technology platform allows drugs to be released in the body to fit an individual’s needs—whether within a matter of days or several months.

So far, Affinity’s most successful application has been in coating hernia mesh with antibiotics. But the company expects its technology to apply to numerous medical fields, including regenerative medicine, oncology, cardiology and advanced wound therapy.

In addition to continued financial support, the NIH also recognized Affinity Therapeutics with a perfect score on its most recent SHIFT SBIR proposal, titled “Affinity-based delivery of Sirolimus for prevention of AV graft failure.” As outlined in their proposal, researchers at Affinity Therapeutics hope to use the extended release of the transplant anti-rejection drug sirolimus to prevent restenosis, or the re-narrowing of a blood vessel from scar tissue, the most common mode of failure of arteriovenous grafts.

The SHIFT SBIR initiative aims to grow translational research, especially done within academia. The program requires an investigator to be primarily employed by a United States research institution. This connection helps facilitate licensing, promote collaboration with others in the field and gain better access to resources a college or university can provide.

Korley and Horst von Recum founded Affinity Therapeutics to commercialize technology developed in the von Recum laboratory at Case Western Reserve. Korley is associate director of the Coulter-Case Translational Research Partnership at Case Western Reserve. Von Recum is an associate professor at CWRU and serves as director of the Center for Delivery of Molecules and Cells, which focuses on the creation of novel polymeric platforms for drug delivery and tissue engineering.

For more information, visit

The Daily - Jan. 9, 2014

Prosthetic hand with sense of touch in development at Case and Cleveland VA
Friday, January 03, 2014

CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Plucking the stem off a fat, juicy cherry may seem like a simple task, but it’s practically Herculean for an artificial hand—that’s because the prosthetic limbs, while much more dexterous and sophisticated than ever before, still can’t feel the cherry. The end result is a lot of squished fruit.

But researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center are working on a potential solution: an artificial hand that provides sensory feedback to its wearer.

It’ll be a while before the model is ready for in-home patient use, but in early lab tests, the results are dramatic—cherry destruction dropped from about 60 percent without the feedback, to only 7 percent with feedback.

Restoring a sense of touch to amputees is key to making a more naturally functioning prosthetic limb, said the project’s director, Dustin Tyler, who has joint appointments at Case and the VA.

“Most people don’t feel that the (artificial) hand is really part of themselves,” he said. “We want to restore that.”

The team is working on a computer-based interface that can relay the sense of touch from 20 spots on the prosthetic hand. There have been some advances in the area of sensory feedback recently, including a bionic hand that can convey touch from the fingertips, palm and wrist, which is set to be transplanted into an Italian amputee later this year, according to The Independent.

FEELINGHAND2.JPGThe prosthetic hand under development at Case and the Cleveland VA can "feel" by sending signals from 20 different spots on the fingers, palm, and back of the hand to the nerves in the arm. 

The Case/VA team’s hand will provide even more feedback, including on the back and side of the hand. It is also distinguished by its long-term stability; the team has been testing the hand on one individual for 18 months with positive results.

“This is the first time that we’ve been able to restore sensation in any long-term sense,” Tyler said.

The key to making this device work is an instrument known as a cuff electrode. The electrodes have been under development for decades for use primarily in different versions of thebionic eye, and deliver electrical signals to three nerves in the arm from outside the protective myelin sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers. In other technologies, Tyler said, an electrode penetrates the myelin sheath to deliver the signal, which carries the risk of nerve damage over the long term.

Tyler’s test subject, a 48-year-old Madison man who lost his right hand in an industrial forging accident, has seen improvements from the technology even outside the lab.Phantom pain arising from the missing hand, a common problem for amputees, has eased since the team started stimulation, Tyler said.

Tyler said the man felt his hand relaxed from a painful clenched position as soon as they began their work.

“It’s not something we were looking to study with this research,” Tyler said. “It’s another reason we’d like to move this out of the lab. We’d like to see what happens if this [stimulation] just stays on.”

Tyler and his team have been working on the many pieces that have gone into the prosthetic hand since 1992. They’re working with funding from Veterans Affairs, which has helped move their theoretical work to the clinical phase, and Tyler hopes they may soon be able to move forward with a more user-friendly design.

For now, only a couple patients are using the prosthetic hand in the VA basement lab where it’s being fine-tuned. But each tiny step forward they make is a huge advance for amputees.

“It doesn’t sound like much—being able to touch—but scientifically it’s pretty big,” Tyler said.

To view video:

As appeared in the Plain Dealer and on Dec. 27, 2013

Researchers learning to predict sickle cell crisis, monitor treatment with award from Doris Duke Foundation
Thursday, January 02, 2014

JANUARY 2, 2014

Umut Gurkan

Umut Gurkan, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and leader of the project

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University received a $486,000 Doris Duke Foundation award to discover how to predict when sickle cell disease patients will suffer an acute crisis and monitor the effectiveness of treatments.

For decades, scientists have known that during acute crises, patients’ red blood cells change shape from round to a sickle or crescent, become sticky and block flow of healthy oxygen-carrying cells in the body’s smallest blood vessels. The oxygen starvation kills tissues and causes pain and swelling in organs and joints, feet and hands.

About 3 million people worldwide suffer from sickle cell disease, mostly in Africa, India and the Middle East, with an estimated 100,000 adults in the United States and more than 1,000 in Northeast Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Each crisis is an accumulative event, but numbers from a standard blood test tell us little about what’s happening in regard to this disease,” said Umut Gurkan, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and leader of the project. “There’s a need for a more complex test that quantifies the red blood cell physical properties—that is, how sticky the cells are. If we can reliably measure the stickiness, we can predict a pain crisis and monitor patients more effectively.”

Gurkan is working with Case Western Reserve mechanical engineering PhD student Yunus Alapan at the School of Medicine; Jane Little and Lalitha Nayak, associate professors of hematology and oncology; and Connie Piccone, assistant professor of pediatrics. Deepa Manwani,, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Einstein College of Medicine, and Robert Paulson, a cell biologist and professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences at Penn State University, are the basic scientists on the project.

Complicated disease, sticky impasse

Gurkan likens sickle cell disease to a Russian egg doll, which presents increasingly complex challenges as each layer is opened.

“It starts with the DNA, a single mutation in the gene that produces the protein hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood,” he explained. “The hemoglobin should be distributed homogeneously throughout the red blood cell and be able to absorb or release oxygen easily.”

But with this mutation, a single amino acid in the hemoglobin protein is displaced and, as a result, the protein crystalizes and forms abnormally long chains in the cells. Similar to how water changes and forms crystals when it freezes, the protein chains change the physical and surface properties of a red blood cell, causing it to change shape and become stiff and sticky. The affected cells block blood flow.

The researchers don’t know what triggers a crisis, so they are using cell stickiness as a marker of the onset. They have begun using the foundation’s three-year Innovations in Clinical Research award to measure when changes in the physical properties of diseased red blood cells are associated with the painful event. For example, do sickle cells become two or three times as sticky as a normal cell when they start glomming onto one another and blocking blood vessels?

The team is also designing and building an at-home, hand-held testing device that enables patients and their doctors to monitor their blood for vital changes daily or weekly.

As designed, a patient puts a droplet of blood into the device. The blood is divided among three channels, each about half the height of a human hair—the diameter of some of the body’s smallest vessels. The lining of the channels will mimic the lining of the vessels, so that interactions with the red blood cells are true to what happens inside the body.

Results come in less than 10 minutes—the time it takes for blood to flow through the channels. During that time, images and measurements of blood cells are taken and relayed by a phone app to the patient and doctor.

Improving treatment and more

“If we can immediately measure cellular properties, we can respond immediately,” Gurkan said.

They can also monitor the patient’s blood after medicine has been given, and see results immediately. Presently, a doctor can only determine the effectiveness of treatment when and if pain and swelling eases, which is late in the process.

Gurkan believes the device could be used to personalize medicine for each patient by watching how blood cells respond to different medicines and different amounts.

Concepts for the test were developed in weekly meetings with collaborators, he said.

“To come up with a new, novel medical technology, you need a crossover of disciplines and you need to work with clinicians and patients,” Gurkan said. “The School of Engineering is right across the street from the School of Medicine. I have an appointment at the School of Medicine as well—in orthopedics. That enables me to interact with researchers there. Because I’m part of their system, I have more opportunities to learn how we can work together.”

The Duke Foundation research focuses on adults, but a Belcher-Weir Family Pediatric Innovation Award from the Center for Clinical Research and Technology at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center provided a $7,500 award to apply the technology for children.

Beyond adapting the test for young patients, the scientists hope to develop a mobile diagnosis method for newborns. Newborns with the disease have fetal hemoglobin, called HbF, which blocks the sickling action. They don’t show signs of the disease until after the level of HbF is reduced as they age.

If the technology proves workable, Gurkan and his colleagues say it also may be useful for other diseases, such as determining the physical properties of circulating cancer cells that come from a primary tumor and form secondary tumors elsewhere in the body.

Scientists find neural prosthesis restores behavior after brain injury
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and University of Kansas Medical Center have restored behavior—in this case, the ability to reach through a narrow opening and grasp food—using a neural prosthesis in a rat model of brain injury.

Ultimately, the team hopes to develop a device that rapidly and substantially improves function after brain injury in humans. There is no such commercial treatment for the 1.5 million Americans, including soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or the nearly 800,000 stroke victims who suffer weakness or paralysis in the United States, annually.

The prosthesis, called a brain-machine-brain interface, is a closed-loop microelectronic system. It records signals from one part of the brain, processes them in real time, and then bridges the injury by stimulating a second part of the brain that had lost connectivity.

Their work is published online in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“If you use the device to couple activity from one part of the brain to another, is it possible to induce recovery from TBI? That’s the core of this investigation,” said Pedram Mohseni, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve, who built the brain prosthesis.

“We found that, yes, it is possible to use a closed-loop neural prosthesis to facilitate repair of a brain injury,” he said.

The researchers tested the prosthesis in a rat model of brain injury in the laboratory of Randolph J. Nudo, professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Kansas. Nudo mapped the rat’s brain and developed the model in which anterior and posterior parts of the brain that control the rat’s forelimbs are disconnected.

Atop each animal’s head, the brain-machine-brain interface is a microchip on a circuit board smaller than a quarter connected to microelectrodes implanted in the two brain regions.

The device amplifies signals, which are called neural action potentials and produced by the neurons in the anterior of the brain. An algorithm separates these signals, recorded as brain spike activity, from noise and other artifacts. With each spike detected, the microchip sends a pulse of electric current to stimulate neurons in the posterior part of the brain, artificially connecting the two brain regions.

Two weeks after the prosthesis had been implanted and run continuously, the rat models using the full closed-loop system had recovered nearly all function lost due to injury, successfully retrieving a food pellet close to 70 percent of the time, or as well as normal, uninjured rats.  Rat models that received random stimuli from the device retrieved less than half the pellets and those that received no stimuli retrieved about a quarter of them.

“A question still to be answered is must the implant be left in place for life?” Mohseni said. “Or can it be removed after two months or six months, if and when new connections have been formed in the brain?”

Brain studies have shown that, during periods of growth, neurons that regularly communicate with each other develop and solidify connections.

Mohseni and Nudo said they need more systematic studies to determine what happens in the brain that leads to restoration of function. They also want to determine if there is an optimal time window after injury in which they must implant the device in order to restore function.

Co-authors of the study include David J. Guggenmos, Scott Barbay and Caleb Dunham of the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and Jonathan D. Mahnken, of the Department of Biostatistics at Kansas University; and Meysam Azin, of QualComm in San Diego, who at the time was a PhD student in Mohseni’s lab at Case Western Reserve’s electrical engineering and computer science department.

The work was funded by grants from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the American Heart Association. The Advanced Platform Technology Center, a Veterans Affairs Research Center of Excellence in Cleveland supported the fabrication costs for the microchip in the prosthesis.

Researchers discover new species of horse, 4.4 million years old
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Two teams of researchers, including scientists linked to Case Western Reserve University, have announced the discovery of a new species of fossil horse from 4.4-million-year-old, fossil-rich deposits in Ethiopia.

About the size of a small zebra,Eurygnathohippus woldegabrieli—named for geologist Giday WoldeGabriel, who earned his PhD at Case Western Reserve in 1987—had three-toed hooves and grazed the grasslands and shrubby woods in the Afar Region, the scientists say.

They report their findings in the November issue of Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The horse fills a gap in the evolutionary history of horses but is also important for documenting how old a fossil locality is and in reconstructing habitats of human forebears of the time, said Scott Simpson, professor of anatomy at Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine, and coauthor of the research. “This horse is one piece of a very complex puzzle that has many, many pieces.”

The researchers found the first E. woldegabrieli teeth and bones in 2001, in the Gona area of the Afar Region. This fossil horse was among the diverse array of animals that lived in the same areas as the ancient human ancestor Ardipithecus ramidus, commonly called Ardi.

“The fossil search team spreads out to survey for fossils in the now arid badlands of the Ethiopian desert,” Simpson said. “Among the many fossils we found are the two ends of the foreleg bone—the canon—brilliant white and well preserved in the red-tinted earth.”

A year later, they returned and found part of the connecting shaft, which was split lengthwise but provided the crucial full length of the bone. The long slender bone indicates this ancient species was an adept runner, similar to modern zebras, and analyses of their teeth indicated they relied heavily on eating grasses in the grassy woodland environment.

The horse had longer legs than ancestral horses that lived and fed in forests about 6 million to 10 million years ago, Simpson said. The change helped the more recent horses cover long distances as they grazed and flee lions, sabre-tooth cats and hunting hyenas that would run down their prey.

The other fossils they found included teeth, which are taller than their ancestors’ and with crowns worn flatter—more signs the horses had adapted to a grazing life. Analyses of the isotopic composition of the enamel confirmed that E. woldegabrieli subsisted on grass.

“Grasses are like sandpaper,” Simpson said. “They wear the teeth down and leave a characteristic signature of pits and scratches on the teeth so we can reliably reconstruct their ancient diets.”

Horse expert Raymond L. Bernor, from the Laboratory of Evolutionary Biology at the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington D.C., led the fossil analysis. The bones, which remain at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, showed this was a significantly different animal than the horses more than 5 million years old, and those 3.5 million years old and younger. Members of the youngest group are taller and have longer noses, further adaptations to the open grasslands, the researchers say.

Members of the two paleontological projects decided to name the species in honor of WoldeGabriel, a geologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. They want to recognize the high professional regard he’s earned from peers and his many contributions in unraveling the geological complexities of the deposits in the Ethiopian Rift system where fossils of some of our oldest human ancestors have been found

WoldeGabriel, who was not involved in the analysis of the fossil horse, is the project geologist for the Middle Awash project in Ethiopia.

“Giday oversees the sedimentology, geochronology and volcanology and how the Middle Awash Valley in the Afar rift is changing shape,” Simpson said. He praised WoldeGabriel as a top scientist who helps fellow researchers navigate the rugged region and government offices.

“And he leads by example, in terms of working hard,” Simpson continued. “He’s not afraid of a very long walk in the heat, carrying a 5-pound hammer to collect samples.”

Simpson is the project paleontologist for the Gona Project led by Sileshi Semaw.  Henry Gilbert, of the Department of Anthoropolgy at California State University, East Bay; Gina M. Semprebon, a Bay Path College biology professor; and Semaw, now a research associate at Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana, Spain; are co-authors of the study.

The team continues to analyze fossil remains they collected at this and nearby sites.

Professor, students contribute to one of top 10 physics breakthroughs of year
Friday, December 13, 2013

DECEMBER 13, 2013 - The Daily

CWRU physics top 10 team

John Ruhl, J.T. Sayre and Benjamin Saliwanchik

A Case Western Reserve University professor, two of his graduate students and a former postdoctoral researcher are among a group of scientists whose work was named by Physics World magazine today as one of the Top 10 Physics Breakthroughs of 2013.

Physics professor John Ruhl’s team helped design and build sensors and a camera used on the South Pole Telescope and analyze the first year of data, detecting for the first time a subtle twist in oldest light in the universe, called the cosmic microwave background.

“There’s a great hope we can use the signal to characterize the growth of structure in the universe,” Ruhl said. “We’ve opened the door, now we have to gather more data to improve the sensitivity of our measurements.”

J.T. Sayre, a PhD student working with Ruhl, said, “Being the first experiment to make the detection, when there is a whole range of experiments seeking the same thing, is certainly exciting.”

Others involved in the project are PhD student Benjamin Saliwanchik and mechanical designer Rick Bihary of the physics department. Tom Montroy, a former postdoctoral researcher who now works in industry in Boston, was involved in this finding.

The top 10 breakthroughs were chosen by the Physics World editorial team, which reviewed more than 350 news articles about advances in the physical sciences published on the magazine website in 2013. (The full announcement about the 2013 breakthroughs can be read on

“John and his colleagues have developed exquisitely sensitive detectors and analysis techniques allowing them to unambiguously identify these subtle effects (in which the signal is only about one part in 10 million of the background),” said Cyrus Taylor, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a physics professor.

“As the measurements get even more precise in coming years, it should provide a unique probe of the energy scale of inflationary models of the early universe, as well as constraining cosmological parameters such as the sum of neutrino masses,” Taylor said. “It is the kind of result where one wants to say ‘Bravo!’”

John Ruhl JT CWRU

John Ruhl and J.T. Sayre in a Hercules C130 enroute to the South Pole.

There’s so much interest in finding twists in the light, called B-mode polarization, because of what they potentially can tell cosmologists, astrophysicists and particle physicists.

There are two kinds of B-modes; those found are the brightest set, Ruhl explained. The polarization is caused by the pull of gravity on photons more than 13 billion years old, by massive structures in the universe.

Now that they’ve seen them, “We hope we can use them to learn details about how structure grew from the smooth early universe to today, where it’s now lumpy,” Ruhl said.

The signals, researchers believe, can be used to map out the matter content of the universe, and, in a kind of reverse engineering, determine the masses of neutrinos.

The group is also looking for a slightly different and fainter signal: light polarized in a pinwheel pattern. This would represent a landmark finding that confirms inflation, a key part of the standard cosmological model.

“We and other groups are going after it,” Ruhl said, “but it will be harder to detect.”

Ruhl’s team worked with researchers from: University of Chicago; McGill University; University of California, Berkeley; Cardiff University, University of Colorado, National Institute of Standards and Technology; California Institute of Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Argonne National Laboratory; University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; University of California, Davis; University of British Columbia; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics; and the University of Toronto.

The group is now trying to answer such questions as the age of the universe and how it has changed as it’s aged, the makeup of matter in the universe and whether they can predict how the universe might change in the future. 

EECS researchers report nanoscale energy-efficient switching devices at IEDM 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013

By relentlessly miniaturizing a pre-World War II computer technology, and combining this with a new and durable material, researchers at Case Western Reserve University, including Philip Feng, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, have built nanoscale switches and logic gates that operate more energy-efficiently than those now used by the billions in computers, tablets and smart phones.
Electromechanical switches were the building blocks of electronics before the solid-state transistor was developed during the war. A version made from silicon carbide, at the tiniest of scales, snaps on and off like a light switch, and with none of the energy-wasting current leakage that plagues the smallest electronics today.
The scientists reported their findings Dec. 9 at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in Washington D.C. 

The work was also featured in IEEE Spectrum, the flagship publication and website for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Read the IEEE Spectrum article. 

The tiny switch’s moving part is only about one cubic micron in volume, more than a thousand times smaller than devices made in today’s mainstream microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Thus, this switch can move much faster and is much lighter.
The switch has also proved durable, operating for more than 10 million cycles in air, at ambient temperatures and high heat without loss of performance—far longer than most other candidates for a non-leaking switch.
Such tolerance may enable electronics-makers to build a computer that operates within the intense heat of a nuclear reactor or jet engine. Silicon transistors start to deteriorate at around 250 degrees Celsius (480 degrees Fahrenheit). Testing has shown the silicon carbide switches operate at more than 500 degrees Celsius (930 degrees Fahrenheit).
The development is significant because switching devices are at the heart of computing and communications technologies.
“In our pockets and backpacks, nowadays we often carry mobile devices that consist of billions of such building blocks, which are switching on and off to perform the information processing functions,” explained Feng, leader of the project.
Silicon-based metal-oxide-semiconductor field effect transistors, called MOSFETs, are the dominant switching devices in integrated circuits and have led to many extraordinary technologies enjoyed today, Feng said. But continued miniaturization of silicon MOSFETs over the past several decades has recently slowed, as power consumption and heat dissipation have become major challenges.
Energy is lost and heat generated because nanoscale MOFSETs leak like an old faucet. Electrons continue to travel through a switch that’s turned off.
“The silicon switches are leaking power at about 1 to 10 nanowatts each,” Feng said. “When you have a billion of these on a computer chip, you’re losing a few to tens of watts of power. That will consume the battery you carry, even when the transistors are not actively performing computing functions.”
Large data centers aren’t only wasting that energy, they’re paying the costs of cooling to prevent computers from overheating.
Tina He, Feng’s PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science at the Case School of Engineering, provided details about making and testing the switches in her presentation, Silicon Carbide (SiC) Nanoelectromechanical Switches and Logic Gates with Long Cycles and Robust Performance in Ambient Air and High Temperature, at the international meeting.
The research team has made three-terminal, gate-controlled switches and different kinds of logic gates – fundamental elements used in computing and communications.
“Compared to silicon and other common materials, SiC is quite special because it is much more resistive to oxidation, to chemical contaminants and to wear,” Feng said. “Those properties should lend themselves to devices with more robust performance while protecting them from harsh operating environments.”
Co-authors of the conference paper are: Case Western Reserve graduate students Rui Yang and Vaishnavi Ranganathan, staff engineer Srihari Rajgopal, electrical engineering and computer science professors Swarup Bhunia and Mehran Mehregany, and Mary Anne Tupta, senior research engineer from Keithley Instruments Inc.
The work is supported by grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Microsystems Technology Office and the National Science Foundation.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has hosted the international meeting for nearly 60 years, to report breakthroughs in a growing range of electronic device technology.

Two CWRU scientists named National Academy of Inventors Fellows
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two Case Western Reserve University scientists who are leaders in innovation and turning discoveries into improvements in health, new materials and more have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Robert H. Miller, professor of neurosciences and the university’s vice president for research, and P. Hunter Peckham, the Donnell Institute Professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics and founder of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center, are among 143 researchers from 94 universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes to receive the honor.

Election to Fellow status is a professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Combined, these fellows hold more than 5,600 United States patents.

Academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Fellow were nominated by their peers.

“We, as a university, should feel very proud of the fact we have two members among this year’s fellows,” Miller said. “It’s recognition of our creativity and innovation and puts us with a very strong group of peer universities.”

Peckham said the honor “recognizes the significant contributions to innovation at the university and our translation of those discoveries into real-world impacts.”

Peckham was nominated for decades of research on restoring function in paralyzed arms and hands of people with spinal cord injuries. He and collaborators have developed implantable neural prostheses that use electrical impulses to activate nerves and control muscle.

Their discoveries have enabled those whose upper bodies have lost feeling to grasp and release objects, regaining the ability to perform some essential activities of daily living.

Miller said he’s been named a fellow in part for his lab work, but more for his role as the university’s vice president for research. In the lab, he and collaborators discovered a growth factor in stem cells that appears to reverse damage from multiple sclerosis—a finding that’s now the basis for human clinical trials.

As vice president for research, Case Western Reserve has been recognized as a leader in licensing university-developed technology and creating spinoff companies based on advancements in a wide range of fields including medicine, manufacturing energy and new materials.

“There’s a changing environment at universities, and this recognition tells us CWRU is becoming much more cognizant of the importance of innovating for society,” Miller said. “It’s not just innovation, but the translation of that innovation for the benefit of society.”

Included in the 2013 class are 69 members of national academies of science, medicine and engineering; six recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation; two recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science; and nine Nobel Laureates, among other major awards and distinctions.

The NAI Fellows will be inducted by Deputy U.S. Commissioner for Patents Andy Faile, from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, during the third annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, on March 7, in Alexandria, Va., at the headquarters of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy and a rosette pin.

View the full list of NAI Fellows online.

CSE professor to teach first American college course in Myanmar; story featured in First Bell
Friday, December 06, 2013
The international work of C. Benson Branch Professor of Chemical Engineering Daniel Lacks is making headlines. News of his teaching trip to Myanmar this week was featured as the lead story in the Dec. 3 issue of ASEE’s First Bell, following the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s coverage.
Lacks and a dozen master’s students are heading to the South Asian country to teach an intensive two-week course at Yangon Technical University. Myanmar is undergoing political and social reform following decades of restrictive military rule. Recently reopened, Yangon Technical University was one of several institutions shuttered in the 1990s amidst political unrest.
Read more about Lacks’ trip in the original Plain Dealer article. 

Cleveland-based Akrotome Imaging's technology designed to help surgeons find, remove cancer
Tuesday, December 03, 2013

james basilion01.jpg CLEVELAND, Ohio – Women who have undergone alumpectomy to remove a cancerous tumor from their breast – and the surgeons who treat them – don’t know for several days if the tumor has been completely removed.

A professor at Case Western Reserve University and his two partners hope that their patented guided imaging technology will one day eliminate the need for repeat lumpectomies (something that between 20 and 60 percent of women must endure) and also will save money in the process.

The technology – which also has potential applications with skin cancer surgery -- could be available in hospitals within three years, if Akrotome Imaging Inc. is able to secure the funding needed to build a prototype of the machine behind their technology and conduct a larger clinical trial.

Akrotome (the name is taken from two Greek words that roughly translate into “edge cutting”) is comprised of co-founders James Basilion and Matthew Bogyo and CEO Brian Straight.

The imaging technology is a fluorescent molecular probe that is applied to a tumor after surgical removal to help surgeons determine if they have removed all of the cancerous tissue. 

The probe is not an instrument in the traditional sense, but rather a molecular entity that is sprayed onto the tissue and works as a contrast agent.

If the area lights up, it’s an indication that cancer is still present. Before closing the incision, the surgeon can remove more of the surrounding normal tissue to ensure that the entire tumor has been removed.

Unlike other imaging technologies like a PET scan, this one doesn’t require the use of any chemicals injected into patients.

Basilion, a professor in the departments of radiology, biomedical engineering and pathology at CWRU and co-director of the Cancer Imaging Program for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, uses the image of a hard-boiled egg to explain the need for their technology.

Not only is the cancerous lump removed during a lumpectomy, in which the breast is spared, but normal breast tissue is also removed.

“The yolk is the cancer and the white is the normal tissue,” Basilion explained. “You want to take out enough of the white so there is no yellow … the tumor is contained completely within normal tissue and you’ve gotten it all.”

But oftentimes that is easier said than done, when surgeons are trying their best to estimate visually where the cancer stops and where healthy tissue begins.


“If you talk to a surgeon… when a patient says to them, ‘Did you get it all?’ They hate saying, ‘I don’t know. We have to wait for pathology,’ ” said Straight, of West Lafayette, Indiana, who joined Akrotome as president and CEO in 2012.

“Most of them will tell you, that is a completely unacceptable answer for them to have to give, and they want to give a better answer and say, ‘Yes, I’m pretty sure we got it all.’ And this technology allows them to do that.”

A collaboration that spans thousands of miles 

Molecular imaging emerged in the 1990s as a way to provide physicians with detailed images of what is happening inside of the body. But creating optical imaging technology that could be used outside of the body, as opposed to the positron emission tomography (PET) scan, proved to be more difficult, given that tissue, water and blood absorb light.

Nearly a decade ago, Basilion started working on a non-invasive way to identify the presence of cancer. But he didn’t want to focus on something that had to be injected or ingested for a tumor to glow, because then the item would have to go through the lengthy – and costly – Food and Drug Administration regulation process.

Instead, Basilion decided to create something that could capitalize on the demonstrated ability of proteases, the enzymes that help cancer spread through body tissue, to turn on imaging probes.

He had an idea of developing something that could be sprayed in the tumor cavity, and creating imaging cameras that could be placed near the area. Within a matter of minutes, areas where traces of cancer remained would light up. The two men met at an imaging meeting in Germany and started talking, trading stories about their latest projects.Enter Bogyo, a professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Bogyo told Basilion that he was developing molecules for highlighting protease enzymes. His goal was to create a substance that could light up any evidence of cancer tissue.

Basilion asked Bogyo if he could license Bogyo’s technology in order to further develop his idea for the imaging probes.

Not only did Bogyo say yes, but he sent Basilion the reagents. The two began collaborating, eventually forming Akrotome, which was incorporated in May 2008.

Mouse studies conducted at CWRU using an agent sprayed after surgery to remove brain tumors worked well to highlight residual cancer.

“We could see things [the surgeons] couldn’t see with the visible light,” Basilion said.

But developing a spray to be used in humans during surgery would still have to go through lengthy FDA regulations. So they tweaked their method again.

Basilon has received approval to conduct a clinical trial involving human tissue samples to validate the technology for breast cancer.

Before the tumor samples are sent to pathology, they are sprayed with the reagent. Five minutes later the samples go into an imaging device. If bright spots appear, it means that the tissue is 2 mm or less from the cancer/non-cancer border – an incomplete surgery.

To date, tumor samples from 25 patients have been sprayed, with an accuracy rate of around 75 percent in detecting cancer. Samples from 30 more patients are needed for the results to be statistically significant.

In the past the company has received some federal grant money, targeted to small businesses conducting research, and some state funding.

Akrotome is now applying for other funding, and hope to pique the interest of local investors who can help move their work forward.

The next step is to build a device that can capture images of the tumor from all sides, and is small enough to be portable so it can be moved easily in and out of an operating room.

“There’s a good investment ecosystem in this area,” Straight, whose work history includes co-founding two bio companies, said of northeast Ohio.

“But when you look at clinical technologies, people see risk as soon as they look at them,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time de-risking the investment as much as possible [through lots of clinical-grade research to demonstrate the technology’s effectiveness].”

It won’t be the most exciting technology in the world, Basilion concedes. “But it works, and it’s simple,” he said.

“It’s that impact that we think we have a leg up on the competition.”

The Plain Dealer/Angela Townsend on 11/25/13

Case School of Engineering researchers use nanotechnology to fight aggressive cancers
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Efstathios Karathanasis,assistant professor of biomedical engineering and radiology, and leader of the research group

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have received two grants totaling nearly $1.7 million to build nanoparticles that seek and destroy metastases too small to be detected with current technologies.

They are targeting aggressive cancers that persist through traditional chemotherapy and can form new tumors. The stealthy travel and growth of micrometastases is the hallmark of metastatic disease, the cause of most cancer deaths worldwide.

The group, led by Efstathios Karathanasis, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and radiology, will spend the next five years perfecting molecular coatings, called ligands, that enable nanochains injected into a patient’s blood to home in on micrometastases. The National Cancer Institute awarded the group $1.6 million to pursue the work.

The Ohio Cancer Research Associates awarded the group another $60,000 to increase the efficiency and rapid dispersal of chemotherapy drugs the nanochains tote inside the metastases.

The grants will build on earlier work by Karathanasis, Mark Griswold, professor of radiology and director of MRI research at the School of Medicine, and Ruth Keri, professor of pharmacology at the School of Medicine and associate director of research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. They and colleagues invented a nanochain that explodes a barrage of chemotherapy drugs inside a tumor.

“When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, he or she undergoes surgery to remove the primary tumor, then undergoes chemotherapy to kill any residual disease, including distant micrometastases,” Karathanasis said.

“Chemotherapy drugs are very potent, but because they are randomly dispersed throughout the body in traditional chemotherapy, they aren’t effective with the aggressive forms of cancer,” he continued. “You have to give the patient so much of the drug that it would kill the patient before killing those micrometastases.”

But delivering the killer drug only to micrometastases is a challenge. They are hidden among healthy cells in such small numbers that they don’t make a blip on today’s imaging screens.

Contrary to traditional drugs, you can control how a nanoparticle travels in the bloodstream by changing its size and shape. “You can think of nanoparticles as a pile of leaves in the back yard,” Karathanasis said. “When the wind blows, each leaf has a different trajectory because each has a different weight, size and shape.  As engineers, we study how nanoparticles flow inside the body.”

The group built a nanochain with a tail made of magnetized iron oxide links and a balloon-like sphere filled with a chemotherapy drug. The chains are designed to tumble out of the main flow in blood vessels, travel along the walls and latch onto integrins, the glue that binds newly forming micrometastasis onto the vessel wall.

When chains congregate inside tumors, researchers place a wire coil—called a solenoid—outside the animal models. Electricity passed through the solenoid creates a radiofrequency field, which causes the magnetic tails on the chains to vibrate, breaking open the chemical-carrying spheres and launching the chemotherapeutic drug deep into a metastasis.

In testing a mouse model of breast cancer metastasis, the chains killed 3,000 times the number of cancerous cells as traditional chemotherapy, extended life longer and in some cases completely eradicated the disease, while limiting damage to healthy tissue.

Due to their random dispersal, negligible amounts of a typical conventional chemo drug can reach into a metastasis. In recent testing, a remarkable 6 percent of the nanochains injected in a mouse model congregated within a micrometastatic site of only a millimeter in size. The researchers want even better.

Using the federal grant, the researchers will develop nanochains with at least two ligands. The different ligands will seek varied locations on cancerous cells, increasing the odds of finding and attacking the target.

Using the Ohio grant, the researchers will find the optimal size of the nanochains, tail and the payload of drugs to make them as efficient and speedy killers as possible. By including fluorescent materials in the nanochains, they will be able to see the chains slip from the blood stream, congregate in micrometastases and explode the drugs inside, and make improvements from there.

Other members of the research group include Vikas Gulani, assistant professor of radiology at the School of Medicine and director of MRI at UH Case Medical Center, Chris Flask, director of the Imaging Core Center in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and an assistant professor of radiology, and William Schiemann, an associate professor at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Such work would not happen in other places,” Karathanasis said. “This is truly interactive research waging Research and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.”

Research team building an MRI-guided robotic heart catheter
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
In a matter of years, a doctor may see real-time images of a patient’s beating heart and steer a robotic catheter through its chambers using the push and pull of magnetic fields while the patient lies inside a magnetic resonance imager.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to perfect such technology over the next four years.
The project aims to improve treatment of arterial fibrillation—an irregular beat that occurs when electrical conductivity in the heart short-circuits and can lead to a stroke or heart disease.
To treat the problem, doctors slip a catheter through a vein in the thigh up into the heart, where an electrode tip is used to burn, or ablate, the tissues involved in the short-circuiting. When successful, this allows the heart’s electrical currents to travel smoothly, resulting in normal beating and blood flow.
But doctors sometimes have trouble maintaining contact with the target tissue. A beating heart moves the target, and flowing blood creates turbulence similar to airplanes through wind currents. The two-dimensional view produced through fluoroscopy imaging is often grainy or blurry. The result is surgeons sometimes burn more tissue than necessary, or not enough to eliminate the problem.
“With our technologies, we believe physicians will be able to accurately navigate and target tissues; they will see exactly where they are inside the heart in real time and see the tissues they are ablating in real time,” said M. Cenk Cavusoglu, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and principal investigator on the project.
Doctors will still hand-feed the catheter from thigh to heart. But once there, the robotics will take over, Cavusoglu said.
To make a catheter robotic, the researchers have wrapped the inch behind the tip in tiny copper coils. By passing an electrical current through them, the coils create a magnetic field.
When this magnetic field is paired with the magnetic field created inside the MRI to produce images, the catheter has the ability to move. In order to control the movement, Cavusoglu’s lab is now developing software to use the fields like a pair of deftly controlled bar magnets.
A doctor using a joystick or touch screen will guide the catheter inside the patient. In the heart, to turn the catheter to the left or right, a current will be applied to coils in either direction.
The magnetic fields can produce the same effect as aiming two like poles of magnets at each other: they repel. Or aiming two unlike poles at each other: they attract. But, because the MRI field is much stronger, it’s the catheter that moves. And, because the fields encircle the catheter, it can move up and down, not just side to side.
Nicole Seiberlich, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has already developed the technology to see images inside the body 10 times faster than what’s commercially available, without sacrificing the clarity for which MRI’s are renown.
She and colleagues will continue to increase the speed, enabling a doctor to clearly see the landscape inside the heart in three dimensions in real time.
Mark Griswold, professor of radiology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, had begun investigating the idea of a robotic catheter inside an MRI several years ago, but his lab dropped the effort when the device could not be properly controlled.
Jeff Duerk, dean of the Case School of Engineering and a professor of biomedical engineering who specializes in imaging, introduced Cavusoglu to Griswold, Seiberlich and others in their labs. When the others learned Cavusoglu had control algorithms and was looking for a place to use them, they restarted the effort.
To maintain a steady aim and contact with target tissues inside the beating heart, Cavusoglu’s lab has already developed algorithms that automatically compensate for the contracting and expanding muscles and the pulsing blood.
“His algorithms come from the automated-car-driving world—they are predictive modeling—and our work comes from clinical medicine,” Griswold said. “But because we got to know each other, we could see how we can work together.”
In addition to the researchers named above, Jeff Ustin, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and researcher and surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, is assisting with the project.

Through its master plan, CWRU begins developing blueprint for the future
Thursday, November 07, 2013

Think a master plan involves a plethora of pretty campus drawings that do little more than sit on a shelf? 

Think again.

Campus Aerial

In 2005, Case Western Reserve proclaimed the critical importance of such projects as a gathering place for graduates, a student center, and vibrant dining, retail and residential development on Euclid Avenue.

Two years later, the university opened its first ever Alumni House. Three years after that, Tinkham Veale made the $20 million naming gift required to launch construction of the university center. And two years later, Uptown opened with fully rented apartments as well as more than a dozen places to shop and eat.

Those examples underscore the significance of thorough deliberation and dialogue as the Case Western Reserve community considers its next steps in campus development. Whether the ideas involve improvements to what already exists or entirely new initiatives, a real chance exists that suggestions within a plan could become fully realized structures.

At the same time, the creation of campus spaces is not an end in itself. Rather, a master plan represents one way that a university translates overarching aspirations into specific initiatives. In other words, it is a place where concepts become concrete—sometimes literally.

“The goal of the campus master plan is to interpret the vision and mission of the strategic plan into a vision for the physical campus, so this is the perfect time to be doing a campus master plan,” said Irwin Lowenstein, Case Western Reserve’s advising university architect and president of ReThink Advisors.

The 14-month master plan process began last month. President Barbara R. Snyder appointed a broad committee of faculty, staff, students, administrators and trustees whose first task is to assess the qualifications of 10 renowned firms seeking to serve as project consultants.

All of the firms competing for the opportunity to assist the university have completed master plans for peer and aspirational institutions, Lowenstein said. Once the committee narrows the pool, finalists will visit campus for in-person presentations and interviews.

Once the university selects a consultant, the firm will begin to gather data regarding the university’s needs and existing space. The firm also will consult extensively with stakeholders regarding opportunities and challenges.

Throughout the process, faculty, staff and students will be able to offer comments through focus groups, town hall meetings and other vehicles.

”The goal is to maximize participation of the campus community,” Lowenstein said.

The upcoming plan is likely to suggest projects for the next five to 10 years as well as others that could emerge over the next 20 years

“Right now, the university has incredible opportunities, but like all institutions of higher learning, it also has incredible challenges. President Snyder is encouraging us to embrace both—and continue to think big,” Lowenstein said. “A campus master plan is more important than ever.”

Don Richards '79, MBA '81 one of two new CWRU Board of Trustee members elected
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Case Western Reserve Trustee Chair Chuck Fowler announced that the board elected Ellen Stirn Mavec and Don Richards as university trustees at its meeting earlier this month.

“Ellen and Don each have long ties to Case Western Reserve and strong records of leadership in the community,” Fowler said. “We are delighted that they will bring even more of their experience and insight to the university through board service.”

Ellen Stirn MavecMavec, the granddaughter of Kelvin and Eleanor Smith, is the president of the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation. Established in 1955, the foundation supports nonprofit institutions that positively affect the citizens of Northeast Ohio. The foundation has had a tremendous impact in University Circle and at Case Western Reserve, including funds for the Kelvin Smith Library and, most recently, the Tinkham Veale University Center.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in art history from Northwestern University in 1980, Mavec worked with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., studied at Sotheby’s in London and later went to Cleveland’s New Organization for the Visual Arts, a nonprofit promoting art and architecture in Northeast Ohio.

Mavec opened Ellen Stirn Galleries in 1984, and later purchased Potter & Mellen, which she transformed into one of Cleveland’s most prominent jewelry stores. In 2008, she closed the store and now continues to sell Potter & Mellen-designed jewelry and corporate gifts online.

Mavec is the recipient of many awards: the Richard W. Day Distinguished Young Alumnus Award from Hawken School; recognition as one of Cleveland’s Women of Achievement by the YWCA; the medal of Excellence from the Cleveland Institute of Art; and Lake Erie College’s Distinguished Citizens of Western Reserve Award. She currently serves on the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees and was a co-chair of the Museum’s Phase I Capital Campaign that raised $250 million. She is a Life Trustee of Great Lakes Theater; a founding member of In Counsel with Women (an exclusive executive women’s association); and a graduate of Cleveland Leadership Center’s Class of 1999.

RichardsRichards earned his undergraduate and MBA degrees from Case Western Reserve in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He began his career at Accenture, a Cleveland-based management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. He held a number of positions throughout his 30 years with the $21.6 billion global company, most recently as senior managing director of information technology outsourcing. In that role, Richards drove the strategic direction, growth and delivery of Accenture’s services to more than 600 global clients.

Now retired, Richards co-chairs the university’s Corporate Visiting Committee. As a long-time supporter of the university, Richards recently pledged $1 million to the President’s Strategic Initiatives Fund. In 2008, Richards endowed a fellowship in the Master of Engineering and Management program for students who possess strong engineering skills as well as broader business capabilities and entrepreneurial acumen. Along with financial support, the fellowship offers candidates mentoring and networking opportunities.

In addition to his responsibilities at the university, Richards is secretary of the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Board of Trustees and serves on the boards of Business Volunteers Unlimited, Cleveland Vicon Company and Cate Street Capital, where he was one of the original investors.

The Daily 10/29/13

Engineering student innovators launch company, make waves with new water-efficient device
Monday, October 28, 2013

Two Case Alumni Association scholarship recipients recently made headlines regarding a water-efficient product they developed. This story exemplifies the caliber of ingenuity and creativity, as well as interdisciplinary collaboration, at Case School of Engineering today.   

Craig Lewis, a senior studying Macromolecular Science & Engineering and student in the Master of Engineering and Science program, and CJ Valle, a senior in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, developed a smart meter that sits behind a showerhead. The Sprāv is a measurement and temperature tool used for water efficiency.

The two engineering students partnered with Andrew Schad, a graduate of the 
Cleveland Institute of Art, to help with the design. They have since teamed with Tom Emelko, a junior in Computer Science and Engineering, to work on software development for the startup.

The new company, SpravWater, LLC, is working with Blackstone LaunchPad here on campus as well as local startup incubator Bizdom and crowdfunding giant Kickstarter to appeal to the public for seed money. As of this writing, there are 314 backers and $17,688 pledged toward its $80,000 goal, which must be reached by Nov. 16, 2013.

The prototypes were built in think[box], a 3,000-square-foot physical space located in the Glennan Building that provides tools students need to take ideas in their head and get them in their hands, and eventually to the commercial marketplace.

“This is exactly what our engineering students are taught to do, come up with an idea 
and make it a reality,” said Case School of Engineering Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk, PhD ’87. “As you can see after reading the article on, there were many groups that came together in making this happen. I applaud everyone involved in this very innovative project.”


The innovative, water-efficient device called Sprāv snaps onto the pipe just behind the showerhead and connects to your smart phone or tablet to measure and monitor the amount of water used during household showers. Sprāv student innovator CJ Valle said the resources that Case provides to its students are essential to the success of the company to date.  

“The easy access to 3D printers and custom circuit board router that think[box] provides is invaluable for our prototyping process. Also, the various entrepreneurship and design competitions that the school sponsors have been a huge help in providing feedback for our early designs and funding initial development of the product,” CJ said. “We couldn't have gotten this far without the assistance Case has given us.”

CWRU, partner institutions receive grant for stroke research center
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Five Cleveland biomedical research and health care institutions have received a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one of the National Institutes of Health, to collaborate on developing the Cleveland Stroke Clinical Trials Regional Coordinating Center.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine will administer the five-year grant through its Clinical Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC), an initiative that has secured $128 million to accelerate the progress of medical breakthroughs from research labs to patient care.

Under the five-year grant, Case Western Reserve will work with its CTSC partner institutions, which include primary affiliate University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Medical Center and Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, to improve prevention and treatment of strokes as well as rehabilitation for stroke patients.

“When we bring together talented and passionate people, incredible progress consistently follows,” School of Medicine Dean Pamela B. Davis said. “We are delighted to see another strong partnership secure federal support to advance its outstanding work.”

Anthony Furlan

Principal Investigator Anthony Furlan

The principal investigator on the project is Anthony J. Furlan, chairman and professor of neurology at the School of Medicine and UH Case Medical Center.  The co-principal investigator is Peter A. Rasmussen, associate professor of surgery at the School of Medicine and director of the Cerebrovascular Center at Cleveland Clinic.

Furlan has extensive experience in the design and management of large stroke clinical trials. In the 1990s, he guided another collaborative stroke project in the city called Cleveland Operation Stroke, which piloted the American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines campaign and is now a national program that sets standards for hospital stroke care.

“Cleveland has internationally renowned stroke researchers and a rich history of cooperation among our hospital systems for stroke care,” said Furlan. “With many hospital sites that have experience in stroke care and clinical research, we will be able to enroll large numbers of patients into a wide variety of clinical research trials.”

The grant provides resources to advance collaboration among the four major centers as well as 14 individual hospitals within their respective systems.

For example, the grant will support a centralized institutional review board for research projects, a project manager and research coordinators, among other elements. The Regional Coordinating Center will develop, prioritize and implement stroke projects for the NINDS. Selected projects will be funded separately under a Master Agreement with the institute. The grant also includes funds for training a new generation of young stroke clinical investigators.

“Stroke is one of the top killers in the United States and the leading cause of long-term disability,” said Rasmussen. “This partnership will help advance stroke research that will ultimately lead to better treatment and care for stroke patients.”

Other key senior investigators with the project include John Chae and Joseph Hanna of MetroHealth Medical Center; Svetlana Pundik of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA; Sophia Sundararajan and Cathy Sila of UH; and Ken Uchino of Cleveland Clinic. Physicians and researchers from neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, neurocritical care, pediatric neurology and the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center also will participate.

The Daily 10/24/13

The $1.9 million research grant from National Cancer institute will allow investigators to study tumor detection at the earliest stages of formation
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) new Provocative Questions research funding program has awarded a prestigious grant to researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University’s medical and engineering schools to study tumor detection at the earliest stages of growth.

“We know that the best way to fight cancer is to find tumors when they are small and have not yet left their primary location,” said principal investigator Susann Brady-Kalnay, professor of molecular biology and microbiology. “Our unique approach uses molecular imaging agents that recognize tumors using conventional magnetic resonance (MR) scanners. We envision that this technological advance will allow us to detect very early stage tumors using conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines that currently exist at most major hospitals.”

The grant is part of the NCI’s Provocative Questions Project, conceived by NCI Director Harold Varmus, to challenge cancer researchers to provide answers for 24 perplexing questions in cancer research. In 2012, the NCI assembled a list of important questions to stimulate the research community to use multiple scientific disciplines, including clinical and laboratory science and epidemiology, in novel ways to investigate promising but neglected or unexplored areas of research. A Provocative Questions research project is charged with tackling broad questions in cancer biology and aims for a five- to 10-year time frame for making significant progress.

The Case Western Reserve grant is one of only 30 awarded nationwide by the NCI in 2013 and only one of two in Ohio. The research team will address the NCI’s fifth Provocative Question: “Can tumors be detected when they are two to three orders of magnitude smaller than those currently detected with in vivo imaging modalities?”

“Now that we have received the grant, our hope is to translate our discoveries into clinical practice,” Brady-Kalnay said. “With this technology, the radiologist will be confident that the abnormality on an MRI is actually a malignant tumor. This will inform the surgeon where all the tumor cells are located in order to remove them, and then the oncologist will be able to monitor how well each individual patient is responding to a given chemotherapy or radiation treatment.”

“Dr. Brady-Kalnay’s novel approach is built on her discovery of an abnormal protein fragment on tumor cells that encourages their movement through tissue,” stated Stanton Gerson, the Asa and Patricia Shiverick- Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Seidman Cancer Center at UH Case Medical Center. “This is a key factor that starts the process of metastasis, the most devastating part of cancer growth. Finding these cells early, and pinpointing their location by MR is a phenomenal advancement in the field of cancer diagnosis.”

Case Western Reserve was uniquely positioned to win the Provocative Questions grant because of the university’s expertise in building world-class interdisciplinary teams that function with a high level of collaboration and cooperation.

This strong suit is evident in the Provocative Questions grant team, which includes chemists, MRI physicists, radiologists, biomedical engineers and cancer biologists. In addition to Brady-Kalnay, the research team includes Mark Griswold, professor of radiology; Vikas Gulani, assistant professor of radiology; Zheng-Rong Lu, the M. Frank and Margaret Domiter Rudy Professor of Biomedical Engineering; and David Wilson, the Robert J. Herbold Professor of Biomedical Engineering.

the Daily 10/22/13

CWRU receives 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for second straight year
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Case Western Reserve University received the 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from Insight Into Diversity magazine, a national honor recognizing colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

It marks the second straight year Case Western Reserve has won the award, which measures an institution’s achievement and commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach, student recruitment, retention and completion, and faculty and staff hiring practices.

The university will be featured with 55 other recipients in the magazine’s November issue.

“Diversity work in higher education requires collaboration and strategic engagement with multiple stakeholders and constituencies throughout the campus community on a regular basis,” said Marilyn Sanders Mobley, vice president for Inclusion Diversity and Equal Opportunity—a cabinet-level position university President Barbara R. Snyder created in 2008 to foster diversity and inclusiveness campus-wide.

Now in its third year, the university’s award-winning Train the Champion program recently added a new component—a trip to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, to encourage staff and faculty to take a deeper dive into religious, ethnic and cultural diversity, and to introduce participants to the social justice aspect of the museum’s work in the community.

Under the auspices of the Faculty Diversity Office, the university requires all faculty search committees to receive training in how to interrupt unconscious bias.  And, to enhance diversity and acceptance throughout campus, the university hosts two annual receptions for underrepresented students, faculty and staff—a welcome gathering at the beginning of the academic year and a graduation reception at the end.

The university’s Power of Diversity series, which involves Case Western Reserve faculty and prominent guest speakers, has added a new feature—Viewpoint Forum—to provide dialogue on controversial issues from divergent viewpoints.

As a member of the Commission on Inclusion, under the auspices of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Case Western Reserve was recognized in the spring of 2013 with a Best-in-Class Award for Workforce Diversity for the third straight year, and inducted into the commission’s Hall of Fame.

“This work is robust, nuanced and complex at a decentralized research university such as ours,” Mobley said. “We believe we are making incremental progress across the board and even transformative cultural change in some areas, but we are committed to doing even more.”

For more information about the HEED award, visit

he Daily 10/17/13

Researchers awarded $1 million to develop better, cheaper green-energy magnet
Monday, October 14, 2013

Second federal grant supports effort to increase efficiency and secure supply for turbines and motors

David Matthiesen

David Matthiesen

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University were awarded a second $1 million federal grant to create an eco-friendly material for better power-converting magnets in wind turbines and electric cars.

The federal Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy funded both grants in hopes of meeting a growing demand for light, strong magnets that don’t use costly rare-earth elements. The agency wants these essential components for generators and motors made from resources under U.S. control. It awarded an initial grant of $1 million in 2011.

Currently, the rare-earth metal neodymium is the key element in light, strong magnets. The world’s supply is mined almost exclusively by the China, where officials say their country will soon use all it extracts. Although a U.S. neodymium mine reopened last year, scientists and manufacturers are concerned the supply won’t meet demand, and production costs will remain high.

“A costing model puts neodymium–iron–boron used now at $60 per kilogram and our material at about $10 per kilogram,” said David Matthiesen, associate professor of materials science and engineering and the project’s principal investigator.

Matthiesen’s group believes it can make magnetic powder out of cheap and plentiful iron and nitrogen, which can be compacted to form magnets with the desired properties. The engineers are combining early materials science with recent methods they developed to increase the carbon concentration in stainless steel way beyond the usual equilibrium solubility limit.

“We’ve had to go to the old literature to learn what materials the industry was working on before rare-earth metals came along and why everybody has failed at producing a powder made of the material with the highest known magnetic remanence,” Matthiesen said.

Remanence is the strength of the magnetic field a material produces after the material is magnetized. The higher the remanence, the smaller the mass of material needed to convert mechanical and electrical energy in a generator or vice versa in a motor.

In seeking a solution, the engineers returned to the science used to make ancient samurai swords, which had a hard, sharp but brittle cutting edge on a flexible blade. Centuries after manufacturing had begun, scientists understood that the flexible blade was cooled slowly, but the edge was cooled rapidly which resulted in steel packed with carbon atoms differently than the slow-cooled steel.

After World War II, Cambridge University scientist Kenneth H. Jack used X-rays to understand the structural changes. He found that the distribution of iron and carbon atoms in an alloy and the distribution of iron and nitrogen atoms in a second alloy were nearly identical when cooled the same way.

Rapidly cooling the iron-nitrogen alloy produced a form of Fe16N2, called alpha prime, which is a disordered form—meaning its nitrogen atoms are randomly arranged.

When heated again, the compound turns into another form of Fe16N2, called alpha double prime. This form contains the same concentration of nitrogen atoms, but they’re arranged in an order that yields a higher concentration of unpaired electrons. Unpaired electrons are essential to magnetic remanence.

Jack didn’t mention magnetic properties in his reports, but Japanese researchers found when they produced a thin film of pure alpha double prime to make a computer hard drive that the a’’ compound has the highest remanence of any material known.

So far, however, no one has been able to make alpha double prime powder that could be used to manufacture large industrial magnets. Scientists have been unable to dissolve enough nitrogen into iron to fully transform the solid solution into alpha double prime. A partial transformation results in a correspondingly weaker magnet.

Matthiesen believes fellow materials science and engineering professors Frank Ernst, Arthur Heuer, and Gary Michal may have found the keys. During the last decade, they developed a way to dissolve carbon or nitrogen in stainless steel that exceeds the natural equilibrium solubility limit up to 100,000-fold.

“We believe that combining all these bits of information will enable us to make bulk powders of alpha double prime with properties to make a practical magnet and replace neodymium–iron–boron magnets,” Matthiesen said.

With the new round of funding, the group has added Ames National Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, to the effort. The Ames Lab is providing a starting powder of specially engineered spherical alloy particles. The engineers will design and build a fluidized-bed reactor at Case Western Reserve to optimize processing parameters, Matthiesen said. “There are a lots of them,” he said, “and each affects the next.”

Matt Willard, associate professor in materials science and engineering, will analyze the magnetic properties of their products, and the team will use computer simulation to help scale up the process for commercial production.

The Electrodyne Co., in Batavia, Ohio, a magnet manufacturer, and Baldor Electric Co. (now a division of ABB), in Richmond Heights, a motor and generator manufacturer, are part of the team to help speed the concept to market.
The Daily 10/14/13

Engineers’ concept for cheaper, better titanium made in U.S. earns federal funding
Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A Case Western Reserve University proposal for a low-cost, energy-efficient method to extract the strategic metal titanium from ore was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for contract negotiations. This one-year project will be funded by ARPA-E at about $675,000 through the program on Modern Electro/Thermo-chemical Advances in Light-metal Systems.

With a high strength-to-weight ratio and unparalleled chemical stability, titanium is critically important for applications in aerospace, transportation and defense. However, the current process used to refine titanium from ore is extremely energy-intensive, making titanium expensive, thus limiting its widespread use.

“Our project, if successful, will lower the cost of titanium by up to 60 percent,” said Rohan Akolkar, associate professor of chemical engineering and the principal investigator on the project.

Akolkar’s team, which also includes Uziel Landau, professor and chair of chemical engineering, and Mark De Guire, associate professor of materials science and engineering, will work toward demonstrating feasibility of their idea in the next year.

The Case Western Reserve team proposes to use an electrolytic process, called electrowinning, to directly extract titanium from molten titanium salts. A specialized electrochemical reactor will be designed and built at CWRU to facilitate a stable electrowinning process to produce the metal.

“Much of the cost associated with extracting titanium via conventional non-electrolytic routes lies in processing the sacrificial reducing agent, which is typically magnesium. In our direct electrolytic process, magnesium is not required,” Akolkar said. “This reduces cost, reduces energy consumption and simplifies the overall process.”

The electrolytically extracted titanium is expected to contain fewer impurities and therefore have superior mechanical properties as extracted.

The team’s process has the potential of considerably expanding the domestic titanium production industry, which is important to U.S. security. It can boost manufacturing and lower the reliance on titanium imports, which come mostly from Russia.

10/8/13 The Daily

Signal gradients in 3-D guide stem cell behavior; could help repair damaged tissues and organs
Monday, October 07, 2013

Scientists know that physical and biochemical signals guide stem cells to become muscle, blood vessels or bone. But the exact recipes to produce the desired tissues have proved elusive.

Now, researchers at Case Western Reserve University and Washington University School of Medicine have taken a step toward identifying that mix by developing an easy and versatile way of forming physical and biochemical gradients in three dimensions.

Ultimately, the goal is to learn to manipulate stem cells to repair or replace damaged tissues and organs.

“If we can control the presentation of signals, we may be able to enhance and initiate cell repair and tissue formation,” said Eben Alsberg, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve and senior author of the research. “A lot of tissues form due to gradients of signals: gradients of growth factors, gradients of physical triggers.”

Alsberg, postdoctoral scholar Oju Jeon and graduate student Daniel S. Alt of Case Western Reserve, and Stephen W. Linderman of Washington University, tested their system on mesenchymal stem cells, turning cells toward bone or cartilage. They report their findings in Advanced Materials, available online.

Presenting signals in three-dimensional space is a key to engineering complex tissues, such as repairing a torn meniscus, the cartilage pad between bones in the knee, Alsberg said.

“There must be a transition from bone to cartilage,” he said, “and that may require control over multiple signals to induce the stem cells to change into the different kinds of tissues where you need them.”

In their first test, the researchers found that stem cells grew into cartilage or bone in a near-linear fashion according to gradients of two growth factors: one that promotes cartilage and another that promotes bone.

The stem cells were placed in a solution of alginate hydrogel, a jelly-like material made of water-loving three-dimensional networks of water-soluble polymers. The solution was divided between two computer-controlled syringe pumps.

A soluble growth factor, called BMP2, which promotes bone growth, was added in a gradient starting with a large amount and tapering to nearly none. In a second syringe, a growth factor that promotes cartilage, TGF-beta 1, was added in a small-to-large gradient. The pumps injected the solutions into one tube, where they mixed, and growth closely reflected the growth factor concentrations.

The researchers then tied the growth factors into hydrogels that, when exposed to light, released them. This enabled them to prolong the exposure of stem cells to growth factors and further control the differentiation into bone or cartilage.

In a test of physical signals, the researchers modified the hydrogel solutions with a gradient of peptides that form what are called adhesion ligands, molecule strings that hook the stem cells to the surrounding medium. After two weeks of culturing the cells, they found the highest number where the concentration of ligands was highest.

In a second test, they created a gradient of crosslink density within the hydrogels. Crosslinks provide structure to the gels.

The lower the density, the more flexible the hydrogel; the higher, the stiffer the gel. After two weeks, most cells were found in the most flexible gel. The flexibility allows for more free flow of nutrients and removal of harmful wastes, Alsberg explained.

Both physical signals can be controlled further by making them responsive to light, providing another avenue of control, the researchers say.

“This is exciting,” Alsburg said. “We can look at this work as a proof of principle. You can use any growth factor and any adhesion ligand that promotes any kind of tissue growth in this way. In time, we’ll put all the different parameters in one system to investigate those gradients.”

If the technology enables them to unravel recipes that generate complex tissues, the biodegradable hydrogel mix could be implanted or injected at the site of an injury, the researchers say. The recipe would guide cell behavior until new tissue is formed, restoring function.

Reported by The Daily Oct. 7

A look at how the federal government shutdown will affect researchers, students
Thursday, October 03, 2013

The federal shutdown that has closed national parks, stalled services and furloughed 800,000 government employees naturally raises questions for those at Case Western Reserve who rely on federal support for research and education.

The shutdown began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, and will continue until Congress and the Obama Administration agree on a spending plan. How long it will last is uncertain. For perspective, the last federal government shutdown lasted 21 days, from mid-December 1995 to early January 1996.

Until it is resolved, the university will monitor developments and offer updates as appropriate.

For researchers

The university’s Office of Research Administration reports that the shutdown should not have a major impact on research if the closure is relatively brief—meaning, weeks.

Work on active projects should continue unless they depend on access to federal facilities or personnel, according to Suzanne M. Rivera, the university’s associate vice president for research.

That said, proposal submissions may be affected. The federal website will be operational, but the National Science Foundation’s FastLane site and the National Institutes of Health’s eRA Commons site will not validate proposals. But, Rivera added, researchers should continue to submit proposals until advised otherwise.

Also, federal agency staff will not be available to approve no-cost extension requests, grant transfers, re-budgeting approvals or other actions requiring agency approval, Rivera said.

“As long as the system is still open,” she said, “researchers should submit NIH proposals as they normally would but not expect responses until after the shutdown lifts.”

Faculty are encouraged to contact the Office of Research Administration (or the medical school’s Office of Grants and Contracts) with questions.

For students

The shutdown should have minimal impact on students and their financial aid and work/study programs, according to Kristie Lillibridge, associate director for student services in the financial aid office.

Most federal processing and call centers continue to function, she said, so the processing of Federal Direct Loans and Pell Grants should continue on their normal schedules.

“Graduate student stipends awarded as part of federal grants to the university will continue to get paid during the shutdown, just like any other budgeted expense on an awarded federal grant,” Rivera said.

Also, students can still contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Information Center or Case Western Reserve’s financial aid office (216.368.4530) with any questions about their aid. In addition, all loan-servicing centers will remain open to assist students and for any repayment or consolidation questions, she said.

10/3/13 The Daily

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

All Case Western Reserve University students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends are invited to help celebrate National Manufacturing Day on Fri., Oct. 4. Celebrate our history and culture of being "makers" by viewing various vignettes of "making in action" from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Nord Hall 310.

Come mingle and network with peers who are interested in the exciting world of innovating, making and advanced manufacturing.

Light refreshments will be served. Free and open to the public. 

This event is being held as part of a national celebration of the revitalization of manufacturing in our country.

Physics researchers receive grant from National Science Foundation
Thursday, September 19, 2013

Researchers in the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University received a $596,635 grant from the National Science Foundation to design a full-scale Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) magnet out of a new cost-saving material.

The federal grant comes on the heels of a state grant awarded to build smaller test-scale magnets to probe and fine-tune the technology.

Case Western Reserve is partnering with two Ohio companies on the main magnet design as well as associated hardware aimed at improving breast cancer imaging.

“This is a powerful collaboration between industry and academia,” said Michael Martens, project leader and associate professor of physics. “They have the motivation and experience in products, and we have an understanding of the underlying physics and calculation techniques.”

Martens; co-investigator Robert Brown, professor of physics and Distinguished University Professor; and other members of the university’s Ohio Platform for Tomorrow’s Industrial Medical Imaging Systems and Equipment (OPTIMISE) group will design a magnet built with magnesium diboride wire, made by Hyper Tech Research of Columbus, Ohio.

The researchers believe a superconducting magnet made from a coil of the wire would need just a few liters of increasingly costly liquid helium to supercool the material, yet yield the same quality image as today’s best machines.

The National Academy of Science predicts demand for helium will exceed supplies by 2017. MRI manufacturing worldwide has slowed because of higher helium prices, and the medical community is concerned the public will face increased costs for imaging or, worse, bypass the procedures altogether because of the expense.

But so far, the coolant has proved necessary. Current MRI magnets require the chill of more than 2,000 liters of liquid helium to operate and produce clear images.

To further enhance the MRI design, the university and Quality Electrodynamics, of Mayfield, Ohio, will investigate the feasibility of cooling a radiofrequency coil used for breast cancer imaging to produce better images. They will investigate whether liquid nitrogen, which would cool the coil to -320 degrees Fahrenheit, can work as a viable alternative to liquid helium.

“At the end,” Martens said, “we will have a design complete enough for a company or investor to look at and decide if it’s worth building.”

Weatherhead School creates first Department of Design & Innovation
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, already recognized for introducing original design concepts to business management, has formed a new Department of Design & Innovation