West Virginia University nanotechnology researchers have secured more than $2.4 million in federally-sponsored, competitive research awards to study drug metabolism, molecular identification, non-linear optics and new energy sources.

Nanotechnology can be used in a variety of applications that impact the lives of ordinary people, including new drugs and therapies, faster and more efficient electronic devices, environmental sensors and energy conversion devices.

The WVU researchers are a part of WVNano – a state-wide initiative that coordinates interdisciplinary scientific, educational and outreach projects. WVNano also manages major experimental shared facilities that are open to all academic and industrial researchers in West Virginia. The awards illustrate WVNano’s continued commitment to transformative scientific research and educational activities that bridge the gap between science and economic development to solve important regional, national and global problems.

Peter Gannett, professor of pharmacy at WVU’s Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, received a $722,176 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study metabolic details of P450, an enzyme produced by the liver that is responsible for metabolism of the majority of drugs. His research could result in better and safer clinical trials, and produce data necessary for the determination of correct dosages and improved patient care.

Xiaodong Michael Shi, assistant professor of the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry, received a $550,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. The CAREER program is NSF’s most prestigious young investigator award. Shi will conduct research that could be instrumental in advancing drug design, fine chemical production and new material synthesis by studying specific transition metal organic compounds. His program will also allow under-represented students to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics applications related to nanoscience in China starting next summer.

Feruz Ganikhanov, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, has been awarded $329,863 from NSF to explore a new conceptual approach to a nonlinear microscopy system. The instrument uses a spectroscopy technique for applications that range from chemical and biological research to weapons detection. Students participating in the research program will have the opportunity to interact with professionals within academia and industry. The successful implementation of the project could lead to collaboration with photonics/biophotonics companies in developing a commercial product.

Parviz Famouri, professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, will use a $392,000 grant from NSF to develop the ability to transport specific proteins from one location to another for security, health and environmental applications. The fundamental understanding acquired from this work will lay a foundation for the future application of autonomous transport and actuation systems, whether biological or inorganic, at the nanoscale level.

James Lewis, associate professor in the Department of Physics, was awarded $75,000 from NSF to study how light interacts with several classes of technologically important materials. The award will leverage several WVNano student research programs. Lewis’ work will contribute to the intellectual foundations of solar energy generation and photochemistry. Technological applications include generation of energy from sunlight and catalyzing chemical reactions, such as the transformation of carbon dioxide into methanol, using light.

Letha Sooter, assistant professor from the Department of Biology, has been awarded $409,733 from the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command Acquisition Center – WVU’s first cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense. The goal of Sooter’s research is to generate devices that will detect explosives and chemical and biological warfare agents by searching for bio-molecules that identify biological and chemical hazards for civilians and soldiers. Sooter and her group will be given three years to accomplish the research, which may be used in developing a sensing device for the Army.

For more information about the research, programs and participants of the WVNano Initiative, please visit http://wvnano.wvu.edu.


WVU news on the Web – http://wvutoday.wvu.edu

Christie Zachary
WVNano Public Relations Specialist
(304) 293-8281