Ohio State researcher receives award for biomedical research

October 26, 1999

ATLANTA -- Mauro Ferrari, professor of internal medicine and mechanical engineering, and director of the Biomedical Engineering Center at The Ohio State University, is one of two researchers to receive the first Wallace H. Coulter Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He was given the award in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of biomedical nanotechnology.

The award carries a $100,000 stipend, and is administered by the Georgia Institute of Technology. Ferrari accepted the accolade Friday (10/22) at Georgia Tech's annual College of Engineering Award Ceremony in Atlanta.

In March 1999, this award was established to honor the memory of Wallace H. Coulter, an alumnus of Georgia Tech who developed blood cell analyzers that perform the complete blood count, or CBC, diagnostic test. Coulter died in 1998. Georgia Tech will present the award annually to an individual whose research shows the greatest potential for resulting in technological advances in health care with practical application to the quality of human life.

"The importance of this award is that it helps our Biomedical Engineering Center in its effort to achieve and maintain recognition as one of the top three programs in the country," said Ferrari. "I am hopeful that this will also contribute to Ohio State's rise towards the ranking of one of the best public research universities in the nation."

Ohio State University President William E. Kirwan, who also attended the ceremony, said, "Mauro Ferrari is a leader in biomedical research who possesses both the drive to advance medical science and the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to make his medical advances a reality."

"As director of Ohio State's Biomedical Engineering Center, his work exemplifies the university's effort to offer students the interdisciplinary research and education they will need in their professional lives," Kirwan continued. "His work also demonstrates the important link between superior research and the health and well-being of people everywhere."

In particular, Ferrari's biomedical nanotechnology innovations include a method for encasing transplant cells in silicon capsules. Such transplant therapy may one day treat diseases as diverse as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Ferrari is also developing drug delivery systems for the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In these fields, he collaborates with Michael Caligiuri, associate director for clinical research at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Pascal J. Goldschmidt, director of the Ohio State University Heart and Lung Institute. Ferrari's colleagues also include Derek Hansford, an assistant professor at the Biomedical Engineering Center.

Ferrari uses a technique similar to the one that makes silicon microchips to create therapeutic microdevices. His work in nanotechnology opens new dimensions in medical treatment, because it involves using devices on the scale of a nanometer -- one billionth of a meter.

He employs photolithography, a technique in which microchip manufacturers take a smooth layer of silicon atoms and etch portions of the surface with chemicals. With this technology, Ferrari can create devices that can be injected into a patient's bloodstream to deliver drugs directly to the part of the body where they are needed.

"The award recipient must be a visionary with the commitment and passion to take an invention from conception to practical application for the benefit of humankind, even despite enormous odds," Jean-Lou Chameau, dean of Georgia Tech's College of Engineering, said in a statement.

The Coulter Award emphasizes not only excellence and innovation in research, but the entrepreneurship of the scientific innovator, and Ferrari has been active in this area as well. He has co-founded a company, iMEDD Inc., to commercialize his therapeutic devices.

Ferrari and his colleagues at Ohio State recently received a $1.4 million grant from the State of Ohio Board of Regents to continue this work in a consortium. Other members include Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati, University of Akron, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Also attending the award ceremony were David B. Ashley, dean of Ohio State's College of Engineering; Daniel D. Sedmak, interim dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health; Edward J. Ray, executive vice president and provost; and Ora E. Smith, president of the Science and Technology Campus Corp.

The other researcher to win the Coulter Award this year is Michael Wach, a Georgia Tech alumnus who developed optical laser medical diagnostic techniques.
Contact: Mauro Ferrari, 614-292-4756; Ferrari.5@osu.edu
Written by Pam Frost, 614-292-9475; Frost.18@osu.edu

Ohio State University

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