Synthetic platelet maker receives innovator award

September 30, 2010

A Case Western Reserve University researcher will receive a $2.3 million New Innovator Award today to further develop and broaden the uses of synthetic platelets and the technology that makes them work.

Erin Lavik, associate professor of biomedical engineering, uses nanotechnology to build platelets of biodegradable polymers, which link with natural platelets to stem bleeding faster.

She and fellow researchers initially pursued the technology after seeing the damage and death tolls among soldiers who received traumatic brain injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The award, presented by the National Institutes of Health, is designed specifically to support unusually creative new investigators with highly innovative research ideas at an early stage of their career.

"It will provide a wonderful foundation for supporting my students as we pursue this research," Lavik said.

Lavik's lab will continue testing and fine-tuning the artificial platelets toward use in people suffering all kinds of traumatic injuries. She also plans to develop new modes of drug delivery based on the system the synthetic platelets use to home in and lock onto clotting natural platelets.

"NIH is pleased to be supporting early-stage investigators from across the country who are taking considered risks in a wide range of areas in order to accelerate research," said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes. "We look forward to the results of their work."
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Case Western Reserve University

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