The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials based at NC A&T State University is under the leadership of Dr. Jagannathan Sankar, distinguished professor of engineering. Dr. William Wagner from the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Mark Schulz from the University of Cincinnati, serve as co-directors. Dr. Devdas Pai, professor of engineering at A&T, will lead educational aspects of the ERC which is part of the very first group of Generation 3 ERCs. ERCs are among the most prestigious NSF awards and NCA&TSU's award represents the first time that an ERC is headquartered at an HBCU.
Since 1985 the ERC program has fostered broad-based research and education collaborations in close partnership with industry that focus on making technological breakthroughs and developing new products and services. The new generation of ERCs will place a greater emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship and on international collaboration and cultural exchange.
The whole premise of the ERC for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials (RMB) is to transform current medial and surgical treatments by creating "smart" implants. The mission is to deliver on the potential of bioengineering and nanotechnology to dramatically improve treatments for cardiovascular, orthopedic and craniofacial ailments. The promise is that new kinds of implants and biodegradable metals may be used that can grow and adapt to the human body they are implanted in and eventually dissolve when no longer needed. That would spare patients from pain and expense of the multiple procedures used to implant, then later remove, refit and re-implant the current generation of devices.
The intellectual merit is being achieved through the intertwining development activities on a global level among its partner institutions which, in addition to the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Cincinnati, include a global technical partner in Germany, Hannover Medical School (MHH), and a global cultural partner in Madras, the Indian Institute of Technology. Also involved are other industrial partners, innovators, and state and local government entrepreneurial networks.
MHH, a world leader in biodegradable materials research and regenerative medicine, is working closely with the ERC team and fully involved in all research and outreach activities. Dr. Frank Witte, the Director of Biomaterial Research, Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the MHH, a worlds’ authority on metal implant will serve as the global site coordinator. He and his MHH team are heavily involved with both the research and educational activities and Dr. Witte has visited NCAT several times to move the research ahead. Through MHH, a research relationship with GKSS (Germany's federally funded research facility) has been established. GKSS is one of the world leaders in biodegradable magnesium application development.
Further, a team of scientists from the ERC visited Germany in December 2008 to initiate strategic activities with the Presidents, Directors and scientists of MHH, GKSS and the Gabriel Lippmann Institute in Luxembourg. The visit brought the entire group closer with focused international initiatives to conduct transformational research and education for a variety of medical applications. The idea is aimed at conducting globalized research coupled with multiple site distance learning, while integrating global entrepreneurial ideas for creating the next generation workforce to undertake and solve a variety of complex problems facing the medical field. The visit also facilitated the establishment of the ERC-RMB satellite for the Euro Union (EU) to actively connect members of the ERC -RMB with potential researchers and industries in Europe for collaborative research and funding. MHH already has added close to $104,000 for the operation of the NSF-ERC-RMB-EU satellite.
The partnership includes, in addition to the joint research activities, provisions for visiting scholars and student exchange programs, and jointly organizing bio-related conferences etc. Already the ERC has organized videoconference based meetings of researchers and students for research and education purposes regularly. Dr. Witte will be a lead co-chair for the First BioMg09 Think-Tank Workshop that is being planned in Greensboro, NC, in the fall of 2009.
For futher information, please contact:
Distinguished Professor of Engineering, NC A&T University
(336) 334-7621 ext 319
Minnie Battle Mayes
Director, Office of International Affairs