Research Laboratories
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Advanced Imaging Methods Laboratory

This laboratory is involved in the development of a variety of advanced imaging techniques especially in the area of ultrasonic imaging and bioinstrumentation. Facilities include workstations, computers, array processors, supercomputer access, advanced ultrasonic scanner and image display facilities.

Advanced Microscopy

Joel Harris, Erik Jorgensen
The Center for Advanced Microscopy provides new advanced microscopy technologies to the biosciences community at the University of Utah and is involved in developing new technologies that will drive novel research in the future. Adjunct professors Joel Harris and Erik Jorgensen are involved in new instrumentation development.

Alzheimer's Image Analysis Laboratory

Richard King, director

Anesthesia Bioengineering Laboratory

Lara Brewer, Joseph Orr, Dwayne Westenskow
This laboratory is involved in the development and testing of medical devices for use during anesthesia and intensive care. The lab has facilities for simulation, animal testing and clinical studies. Through close interaction between bioengineers, anesthesiologists and critical care physicians, numerous drug delivery systems and monitoring devices are being developed for patient care.

Biomedical Polymers Laboratory

Jindrich Kopecek, director; Thomas Cheatham, III, David Grainger

Research in Kopecek’s laboratory focuses on three areas: a) Macromolecular therapeutics with emphasis on development of polymeric drug carriers and novel therapeutic strategies; b) Design of smart biomaterials that self-assemble from hybrid copolymers composed of synthetic polymers and protein/peptide domains; c) Application of biomaterials biorecognition principles to biological systems – drug-free macromolecular therapeutics.

Macromolecular therapeutics: Recent research focuses on the design of backbone degradable, long-circulating carrier – drug conjugates for the treatment of ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. These second-generation conjugates have (when compared to the first generation) longer intravascular half-life and higher accumulation in tumor tissue. Combination therapy targeting both tumor-initiating and differentiated prostate cancer cell populations is also studied.

Smart biomaterials: The research centers on the design of polymer – peptide/protein hybrid biomaterials, whose self-assembly is mediated by coiled-coil and beta-sheet forming peptide domains. These materials are being evaluated as biomineralization matrices for bone tissue engineering and as 3D cell culture scaffolds.

Drug-free macromolecular therapeutics: The biorecognition of peptide motifs identified in biomaterials studies can be applied to a living system and mediate a biological process. Formation of antiparallel coiled-coil heterodimers on B-cell surfaces results in crosslinking of CD20 receptors and apoptosis of Raji B cells. This concept is being developed as a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Bone and Joint Laboratory

This laboratory has a precision, diamond blade bone saw, and other equipment for preparing bone/implant specimens. Also included are a sophisticated optical microscope and a computer system for quantitative digital storage and analysis of both optical and SEM histologist images. The lab is also equipped for high-resolution X-ray microradiography.

Cardiac Arrhythmia Research and MAnagement (CARMA) Center

The mission of the Comprehensive Arrhythmia Research & Management Center is to provide worldwide pioneering leadership in advancing research and clinical treatments for cardiac arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation, a disease that causes both short and long term impairment in the quality of life for millions worldwide. The CARMA Center is advancing research to better understand this disease and develop new medical techniques and interventions that greatly improve the lives of patients.

Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute

Rob MacLeod, Alonso Moreno, Bonnie Punske, Frank Sachse, Alexey Zaitsev
The CVRTI is a multidisciplinary institute dedicated to research into all aspects of cardiovascular electrophysiology. The three main areas of study are the behavior of cardiac cells and membranes, the processes that determine the electrical events in heart tissue and the whole heart, and the study of electrocardiographic fields and high resolution ECG. The CVRTI now consists of 11 faculty members and a total staff of 35. Facilities at the CVRTI for electrophysiology research represent the state of the art in experimental labs, multichannel data acquisition systems, and computer analysis, simulation, and visualization. Recent improvements are additional labs and office space, 1024-channel systems for continuous bioelectric signal acquisition, a complete confocal optics system for cellular and tissue physiology, and a computer lab consisting of multiprocessor Unix workstations and large scale data storage capacity. Preparation techniques available in the CVRTI include cell isolation, intracellular electrode measurements, patch clamp, fluorescent dye methods, imaging of cardiac cells, multielectrode cardiac surface and volume recordings, human shaped, instrumented electrolytic tanks, and noninvasive patient studies using electrocardiographic mapping.

Ergonomics and Safety Laboratory

Don Bloswick, director
The Ergonomics and Safety Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering is a part of the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, an Education and Research Center supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH ERC). The lab started in 1986 and is funded primarily to address occupational safety and ergonomic hazards in the workplace. This often involves the use of electromyography, 3-D motion analysis, and biomechanical modeling to identify the biomechanical stresses in the workplace associated with material handling, pushing/pulling, repetitive movements and walking on irregular surfaces. The lab has also become known as a research and development group that can help people with disabilities from both a therapeutic and recreational standpoint. These projects include an exercise tricycle and off-road walker for children with cerebral palsy, tracked wheelchair carriage, lift-seat wheelchair, arm-propelled wheelchair, knee extension propelled wheelchairs, off-road and tracked wheelchairs, and a paraglider for people with spinal cord injuries.

Genomic Signal Processing Lab

Orly Alter, director
In the Genomic Signal Processing Lab at the University of Utah, we develop generalizations of the matrix and tensor computations that underlie theoretical physics, and use them to create models that compare and integrate different types of large-scale molecular biological data, such as DNA microarray data, and computationally predict global mechanisms that govern the activity of DNA and RNA. We believe that future discovery and control in biology and medicine will come from the mathematical modeling of such large-scale molecular biological data data, just as Kepler discovered the laws of planetary motion by using mathematics to describe trends in astronomical data. We pioneered the use of the matrix singular value decomposition (SVD), the tensor higher-order SVD (HOSVD) and their generalizations in modeling different types of genomic data from different studies of cell division and cancer and from different organisms. Our recent experimental results verify our computational prediction of a mechanism of regulation that correlates DNA replication origin activity with mRNA expression, demonstrating for the first time that mathematical modeling of DNA microarray data, in which the mathematical variables and operations represent biological reality, can be used, beyond classification of genes and cellular samples, to correctly predict previously unknown global biological mechanisms. We now extend our recent computational results, modeling data from the Cancer Genome Atlas, to formulate and implement a protocol for the utilization of recent global profiling biotechnologies in the computational prognosis of cancers. Ultimately, our work will bring physicians a step closer to one day being able to predict and control the progression of cancers as readily as NASA engineers plot the trajectories of spacecraft today.

Harold K. Dunn Orthopaedic Research Laboratory

Andrew Anderson, Kent Bachus, Heath Henninger

The Harold K. Dunn, M.D., Orthopaedic Research Laboratory (ORL) engages in major research efforts that advance the knowledge and application of orthopaedics. The lab utilizes experimental and computational biomechanics, dynamic imaging, volumetric imaging (CT/MRI), biology, implant design, motion analysis, and patient-related-outcomes research to positively influence the manner in which orthopaedic pathologies are diagnosed and treated.

The ORL is a 6000-square-foot facility located at University of Utah Orthopaedic Center (UUOC), which is a dedicated orthopaedic hospital located in Research Park. The ORL is staffed by three full time Ph.D. research scientists/faculty members (Drs. Kent Bachus, Andrew Anderson, Heath Henninger), several research technicians, and full-time graduate students (Bioengineering). The ORL is committed to supporting undergraduate, medical, and graduate students as well as orthopaedic physicians in all subspecialties including Adult Reconstruction, Foot/Ankle, Hand, Pediatrics, Spine, Sports, Trauma, and Tumor.

The ORL has been operating since the 1970s and has been an established leader in developing and integrating new models and technologies for biomechanics. The ORL collaborates with several laboratories and departments on campus to engage in multidisciplinary research. Funding for the ORL comes from external peer-reviewed grants, service work contracts, and the Orthopaedics Department.

Hitchcock Research Group Laboratory

Robert Hitchcock, director
Our laboratory research efforts are motivated by the need for new medical device technologies and designs. We work in the fields of imaging, biosensors and tissue engineering. Our projects almost always come from an unmet clinical need and are managed using a “design control” perspective. We work closely with clinicians and other researchers to bring a diverse set of technical and thinking skills to our projects. The lab has been involved with launching several new medical products through startup companies, and we know what it takes to move technology from the lab to the clinic.

Institute for Sports Science and Medicine

This research group, located at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, is dedicated to the application of sport science technology to performance enhancement, athlete assessment, development, education, medical care and injury prevention. The institute is the official sports medicine provider for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams and the U.S. Speedskating team. Over 700 athletes in the Salt Lake Valley have increased their speed and power through the Acceleration training program at the Institute.

Molecular Bioengineering Laboratory

Russell Stewart, director
The research goals of this laboratory are to develop molecular solutions for complex medical and technical problems. Both natural and synthetic macromolecules, and hybrid combinations of both are employed. Current projects have a common theme of interfacial adhesion: the development of biocompatible adhesives for hard tissue repair, and the development of crosslinking chemistry for precise surface adhesion of active proteins in arrayed biosensors.

Musculoskeletal Research Laboratories

Jeffrey Weiss, director; Benjamin Ellis
The mission of these laboratories is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. We incorporate biomechanical, histological and biochemical methods to study injury and healing in ligament, tendon, meniscus, and cartilage. The principles of mechanics and computational modeling are used to study mechanotransduction, injury mechanisms, and surgical repair/reconstruction.

Neural Engineering Lab

Research in the Neural Engineering Lab focuses on understanding how information is encoded and processed in neural structures, and how this understanding can be applied to the treatment of human pathology.

Neural Information Laboratory

Chuck Dorval, director
We use electrophysiological recordings, computational neuroscience and neuronal information theory to decipher the symbols used by brain cells to process information, interpret the world, retain and retrieve memories, and command coordinated muscle activity. Through these techniques and clinical research, we learn how diseases and disorders of the nervous system impair the generation, storage, transmission, and interpretation of those physiologically meaningful symbols. With this knowledge, we aim to improve existing neuromodulatory therapies and devise novel neural engineering interventions to enhance the quality of life in patients with neurological disorders.

Neural Plasticity Laboratory

Gregory Clark
This laboratory combines intracellular electrophysiology and computational approaches to identify cellular neuronal mechanism of information acquisition and storage in simple systems. The laboratory is equipped with several set-ups for intracellular current-clamp and voltage-clamp experiments, and computers for experimental control, data analysis, and neuronal simulations.

Neuronal Dynamics Laboratory

The Neuronal Dynamics Laboratory uses engineering approaches to understand how information is processed in the brain, with the goal of exploiting these findings to improve the human condition. Methods include: computational modeling of neuronal networks; the design and construction of instruments that interact with human subjects and biological preparations in real time at high clock speeds; and electrophysiological and optical techniques for recording detailed information from single neurons and large neuronal networks.

Orthopedic Biomechanics Institute

This facility is committed to conducting basic science, sports medicine, and clinical orthopedic research. Activities include development of diagnostic and treatment procedures, musculoskeletal implants, sports protective equipment and rehabilitative procedures. The laboratory is equipped for testing biomaterials, analyzing joint biomechanics, evaluating normal and pathologic human gait, and quantifying sports performance.

Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory

This laboratory is used to develop instrumentation and prostheses for persons with handicaps due to spinal cord injury, brain trauma, stroke or other neurological diseases. Projects include development of (1) a microprocessor based Electromyographic (EMG) recorder for recording 24 hours of EMG records in mobile subjects: (2) a 3-D pulsed ultrasonic ranging system for tracking the movement of limbs in real time: (3) a voice recognition system useful to persons without limb movement for commanding a limited number of control functions: (4) light weight and easy to assemble leg brace system for use with electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles: (5) an EMG sensing and display device to allow persons with no hand function and very little head movement to control switches. The laboratory contains electronic test equipment, four computers, a microprocessor development system, and various instruments for bio-mechanical and bioelectric measurements.

Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute (SCI)

Christopher Butson
Over the past decade, the SCI Institute has established itself as an internationally recognized leader in visualization, scientific computing, and image analysis applied to a broad range of application domains. The overarching research objective is to conduct application-driven research in the creation of new scientific computing techniques, tools, and systems.

Sensor Biophysics Laboratory

Holly Holman
The mission of this laboratory is focused on the discovery and quantification of fundamental biophysical, biomechanical and electrophysiological mechanisms underlying sensation of sound and motion by the vestibular and auditory end organs. Scientific findings are reported in the primary/secondary literature, new technologies are invented and disclosed, and novel techniques are applied to problems impacting health and the human condition. Senior personnel are devoted to the continued advancement of human knowledge through education of students in bioengineering, mathematical physiology and vestibular/auditory science.

Surface Analysis And Imaging Laboratory

Vladimir Hlady, director
This laboratory hosts two Scanning Force Microscopes (Nanoscope II and Topometrix Explorer), and custom-built, data-acquisition systems for adhesion force mapping. The SFMs operate in a variety of modes including contact, contact elasticity and friction, tapping, and non-contact modes and are capable of imaging under solution. Contact-angle instrumentation is also available.

Tissue Engineering Laboratory

Patrick Tresco, director; John Skousen
Our group is engaged in the development of a broad range of biomaterials technologies for integration into healthy tissue or for the reconstruction, replacement, or repair of damaged tissue. Two central themes in our work are understanding and controlling the foreign body response to implanted materials and developing cell-based biomaterials. Our group has extensive expertise in bioengineering, biomaterials sciences, neuroscience, cell-culture and tissue engineering methods, immunohistological characterization, device fabrication and testing, and micro- and nanoscale engineering. Our facility contains equipment for the design, the fabrication and the characterization of cell transplantation devices and novel drug delivery systems. Included is a tissue culture facility, a histology laboratory, an organic wet-chemistry and polymer fabrication laboratory and a small animal surgical facility. We welcome collaboration with academia and industry.

Utah Center for Advanced Imaging Research

Dennis Parker, director; Edward DiBella, Dan Kadrmas
Facilities include X-ray, magnetic resonance and nuclear medicine instrumentation. The laboratory has state-of-the-art image acquisition and processing facilities. Research is actively pursued in 2-D, 3-D and 4-D imaging, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), X-ray computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) and other aspects of medical imaging. See link for more details. Further details on resources found here.

Vision Research Laboratory

Richard Normann, director; Ning Tian, David Warren
Part of the laboratory is devoted to anatomical and electrophysiological studies of information processing in the vertebrate retina using single cell techniques. Equipment includes an intracellular electrophysiological recording system, microelectrode pullers, photostimulators, computers and microsurgery systems. The balance of the lab is devoted to the development and production of silicon electrode arrays and circuitry for electrical stimulation of the central nervous system as part of the neuroprostheses program.