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https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/WashU-engineer-collaborators-win-1-million-international-grant-.aspx591WashU engineer, collaborators win $1 million international grant <p>​A biophysicist in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis is part of an international team of scientists that has received a three-year, $1 million 2017 Human Frontier Science Program grant to uncover the molecular logic and organization of specialized micrometer-sized structures in cells.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Pappu_Rohit_1_16_05.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Rohit-Pappu.aspx">Rohit V. Pappu</a>, the Edwin H. Murty Professor of Engineering in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and director of the Center for Biological Systems Engineering, is part of a team that will use advanced imaging and modeling to answer fundamental questions about membraneless organelles that encompass protein and RNA molecules and serve as micro-reactors and stress response depots in cells. Their work will focus on uncovering the organization of membraneless organelles and the selective permeability of biomolecules into these organelles. </p><p>These studies are directly relevant to understanding how cells control crucial decision-making processes such as division, movement and programmed death. In addition, the proposed studies will have a direct impact on understanding how membraneless organelles serve as crucibles for degenerative processes in diseases such as ALS and in proliferative processes that give rise to cancers. </p><p>Pappu is part of a team that includes Stephen W. Michnick of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Montreal, who is principal investigator, and Simon Alberti, a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. </p><p>The highly competitive Research Grants provide support for international teams with members from at least two countries. Team members are expected to broaden the character of their research compared with their ongoing research programs and interact with teams bringing expertise different from their own to create novel approaches to problems in fundamental biology. In 2017, the program awarded $30 million to support the top 3 percent of Research Grant Applications.  <br/><br/></p><div><hr/><p>The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 90 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 21,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.<br/></p></div>Rohit Pappu2017-03-22T05:00:00ZRohit Pappu is part of an international team of scientists that has received a three-year, $1 million 2017 Human Frontier Science Program grant.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Engineering-students-receive-prestigious-Graduate-Research-Fellowships-.aspx588Engineering students receive prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships <p>​Three seniors and a doctoral student in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis have been chosen for the competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. <br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/washu%20engineering%20commencement.JPG?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>The fellowship, the oldest of its kind, awards a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 as well as a $12,000 allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education. From more than 13,000 applications received for the 2017 competition, the NSF awarded 2,000 fellowships.</p><p>The new fellows are:</p><ul><li><p><strong>Savannah Est</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in materials science & engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Roger Albert Iyengar</strong>, a senior majoring in computer science; </p></li><li><p><strong>Corban Swain</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Ian Berke</strong>, a first-year doctoral student in biomedical engineering. </p></li></ul><p>Three undergraduate Engineering students and two alumni received honorable mentions, which is considered a significant national academic achievement. They are: </p><ul><li><p><strong>Ananya Benegal</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering and a master's student in mechanical engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Arnold Tao</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Louis Shen Wang</strong>, a senior majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in chemistry;</p></li><li><p><strong>Timothy Bartholomew</strong>, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 2015 and is now a graduate student at Carnegie-Mellon University.</p></li><li><p><strong>Pratik Singh Sachdeva</strong>, who earned a bachelor's degree in applied science in 2015 and is now a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.<br/></p></li></ul><p>The Graduate Research Fellowship has a history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. Many become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners; U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Google founder Sergey Brin; and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt. Since 1952, NSF has funded more than 50,000 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. <br/></p>Beth Miller 2017-03-20T05:00:00ZThree seniors and a doctoral student have been chosen for the competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Common-heart-ailment-target-of-new-WashU-Engineering-research.aspx579Common heart ailment target of new WashU Engineering research<p>​More than 14 million Americans have an irregular heartbeat that predisposes them to sudden death. New research by a biomedical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis seeks to understand the issue at the molecular level with the goal of improving therapies. <br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/jon%20silva%20heart%20layer%20washu%20engineering.png?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Jonathan-Silva.aspx">Jonathan Silva</a>, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, will conduct the research with a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Specifically, Silva and his team will study how small molecules and proteins interact with ion channels in the heart to cause and prevent arrhythmia, when the heart beats too fast, too slow, or is too unstable. </p><p>"When people are trying to treat arrhythmias, they are trying to control the behavior of the whole organ with a molecule," Silva said. "Unfortunately, when you take multiple molecular properties and put them together, you get a new behavior at the cell and tissue levels that's very hard to predict." </p><p>Silva will use a type of specialized molecular imaging called voltage-clamp fluorometry to watch how the ion channels move and to understand how drugs control the molecules, then create a computer model with the information. </p><p>"We've developed a system so we can look at four different parts of the channel and understand how all of them move," Silva said. "That's the information we'll put into our computer model. Then we can start to understand how those molecular motions affect the cells, how they affect the heart tissue, how they affect the whole organ, how those molecules can be therapeutically beneficial and maybe how we can improve them." </p><p>By understanding how the molecular level influences the cell tissue and heart levels, engineers and researchers can develop insight into better drugs. The drugs that Silva and his team will study are those that target the sodium channels, including lidocaine, a sodium-channel blocker. </p><blockquote>"If we can understand how the drug affects the channel and then create a computational model to understand how that interaction affects the heartbeat, then we hope we can develop an improved therapy," he said. </blockquote> <p>This improved knowledge of activity at the molecular level would allow for specifically targeted drugs, Silva said. </p><p>"If a patient has atrial fibrillation, we want to use our molecule-level insight to get to get the drug to affect a specific target, the atrial cells, without affecting the ventricular cells," he said. "Right now, often people try to treat atrial fibrillation but cause ventricular fibrillation instead." </p><p>Silva and the members of his lab use immature egg cells called oocytes of the Xenopus, a clawed frog that is a model organism for development biology, as well as cardio myocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, or stem cells generated from adult cells by reprogramming them. </p><p>"The oocytes allow us to isolate the one protein we want to look at and study it very carefully and very reproducibly, and that gives us great information about the mechanisms that we need to make a computer model," Silva said. "Then, we can take the computer model and compare it to the data we get from the induced pluripotent stem cells and see if our model predictions are correct." <br/></p><p> <br/> </p> <span><hr/></span> <p>The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 90 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 21,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.<br/></p>​<div><br/> <div>​<br/> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Improving Medicine & Health<br/></h3><div style="text-align: center;"> <strong><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Jonathan-Silva.aspx"><img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Silva_Jon.jpg?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></a><br/><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Jonathan-Silva.aspx"><strong>Jonathan Silva</strong></a> <br/> </strong> </div><div style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Assistant ​​​Professor<br/> ​Biomedical Engineering</span></div> </div></div></div>Beth Miller2017-02-22T06:00:00ZJon Silva and his team will study how small molecules and proteins interact with ion channels in the heart to cause and prevent arrhythmia, when the heart beats too fast, too slow, or is too unstable.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/WashU-entrepreneurs-sparkle-at-Pipeline’s-Innovator-of-the-Year-event.aspx578WashU entrepreneurs sparkle at Pipeline’s Innovator of the Year event<p>​WashU grad Michelle Faits was named Innovator of the Year and three other WashU entrepreneurs were recognized at <a href="http://www.pipelineentrepreneurs.com/">Pipeline Entrepreneurs’</a> capstone event.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/pipeline-logo.png?RenditionID=6" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>The Pipeline Entrepreneurs program helps startup founders build high-growth companies.</p><p>On January 26, Michelle Faits, PhD ’16, was named “Innovator of the Year” at the group’s annual awards ceremony. She is the CEO of <a href="http://pro-arcdx.com/">Pro-Arc Diagnostics</a> in St. Louis. The company is developing a better way to monitor virulent and nonvirulent forms of the John Cunningham Virus, allowing patients to safely receive immunomodulatory therapies.</p><p>“When I was getting my PhD at Washington University, I saw all of the entrepreneurial activity that was happening in St. Louis and wanted to be a part of it,” Faits says. She served as a board member for <a href="https://gradpages.wustl.edu/bec">BioEntrepreneurship Core</a>, a networking group at the university that promoted entrepreneurship and scientific innovation. Plus, Faits started working with medical student Paul Gamble; Dana Watt, then a fellow PhD student in the Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences and now a postdoctoral fellow at the <a href="https://skandalaris.wustl.edu/">Skandalaris Center</a>; and James Sorrell, venture analyst at the Skandalaris Center, on commercializing a test for patients with multiple sclerosis.</p><p>The team won the 2015 <a href="http://www.neurostartupchallenge.org/">National Institutes of Health (NIH) Neuro Startup Challenge</a>, a biotech startup competition to commercialize promising brain-related discoveries. More than 70 teams competed.</p><p>With that win under her belt, Faits applied to be a Pipeline Entrepreneurs fellow in January 2016. Each year, Pipeline admits only a dozen high-potential entrepreneurs to their fellowship program, which blends workshops, mentoring by national experts, and networking to develop business leaders and innovators.  </p><p>“My year with Pipeline was awesome,” Faits says. “The greatest part about it is having access to other smart, driven entrepreneurs who are starting their own companies. When I would go to Pipeline modules and see my fellows doing so many great things, I was inspired to continue improving (Pro-Arc) and making it the best it could be.”</p><blockquote>Also honored at the Pipeline event was Ravi Chacko, an MD/PhD candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. Chacko was recognized as a Pipeline University Spotlight Entrepreneur for his work with <a href="http://www.mindset-app.com/">Mindset</a>, an app that improves mental health using wearables and mobile tech.</blockquote> <p>“We’re currently working on a grant to test Mindset’s effect in veterans,” Chacko says. “We’re also working with Jay Piccirillo, MD, professor of Otolaryngology at the School of Medicine, and two other translational research grant students, to test Mindset on tinnitus patients.”</p><p>Chacko is an alumnus of Internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis’ <a href="http://www.launchincubator.co/">Launch Incubator</a> and a founding member of <a href="http://slinghealth.org/">Sling HealthTM </a>(formerly IDEA Labs), a student-run biotech incubator at the university whose companies raised over $4 million in three years.</p><p>WashU grad Sarah Mirth, founder of furniture company <a href="http://www.theartifox.com/">Artifox</a>, was also honored, winning in the Top Pitch category.</p><p>Rounding out Washington University entrepreneurs represented at the event is Joe Fischer. Fischer was selected to be a fellow in the Pipeline program for his startup <a href="https://greetabl.com/">Greetabl</a>, a personalized online gift-giving service.</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.pipelineentrepreneurs.com/about">Pipeline’s website</a>, since the program started in 2006, fellows have gone on to raise more than $292 million in venture capital, their companies have generated nearly $1 billion in revenue and have created more than 1,000 jobs. St. Louis joined the program in 2014.<br/></p>fuse.wustl.eduhttps://fuse.wustl.edu/washu-grad-pipeline-innovator-of-the-year/2017-02-21T06:00:00ZRavi Chacko was recognized as a Pipeline University Spotlight Entrepreneur for his work with Mindset, an app that improves mental health using wearables and mobile tech.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Mariah-Weyland-Gratz.aspx558Alumni Profile: Mariah Weyland Gratz<p>​While changing one's career from medical device development to real estate development may seem like a big leap, for Mariah Weyland Gratz, engineering was the common thread between the two. </p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Mariah%20Weyland%20Gratz%202.jpg?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>Gratz, who earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering in 2002 from the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, in October became chief executive of Weyland Ventures, her family's urban real estate development company that specializes in mixed-use and historic rehabilitation projects in Louisville, Ky., particularly in the downtown area, and has been credited with changing downtown Louisville. Some of the firm's signature projects include the Hillerich & Bradsby Co.'s Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, the Glassworks District, the Whiskey Row Lofts and the Liberty Green development, a $200 million, mixed income community that replaced a 1940s-era public housing development. The company is expanding outside of Louisville with a project under construction in Dayton, Ohio.</p><p>She joined the company in 2009 after working for six years in medical device development for Abiomed, a Boston-area medical device firm, starting as a systems engineer and eventually leading development of the AbioCor artificial heart.</p><blockquote>"It was about as complicated as you could get from a medical-device perspective," she says. "I was used to coordinating a team of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, biomedical engineers and the manufacturing team and dealing with all of the issues that come along with having that complicated of a device." </blockquote> <p>Gratz applied the same engineering tactic to real estate when she returned to Louisville to join the family's company, then known as City Properties Group LLC, to work in real estate development and to continue to company's growth. </p><p>"Real estate also is a very complicated product where you have to deal with a lot of input from a wide range of people to push everything forward so that it makes sense," she says. "Approaching it from an engineering product-development perspective let me put a framework around it for what I understood and knew I could do, then I had to figure out the niches and nuances that are unique to the real estate industry along the way. My background as a systems engineer was critical." </p><p>While the real estate industry slowed during the economic recession in 2009-2010, Gratz said the company completed about $30 million in work during that time to sustain the company. </p><p>"I really started to take to the family business and the advantages of being in a family business where you have more control over where the business is going and how it's going to get there than you would in a corporate job," she says. "I continued moving up and expanding my role beyond development to become more of a COO role and to manage day-to-day operations across the company."</p><blockquote>Her role has been recognized by others. Earlier this year, Gratz was named among the Louisville Business First's "Forty Under 40," which recognizes young professionals making important contributions in the business community. She also is an active member of several boards in the Louisville area, including serving as chairman of the board of the Louisville Downtown Management District this year.  </blockquote><p>Gratz played on the soccer team at WashU, was a Woodward Scholar and worked two summers and a semester co-op during her junior year at Abiomed, so she didn't have time to study abroad as an undergraduate student. Instead, she chose to pursue a master's degree in engineering and physical science in medicine from Imperial College in London. She earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina in August 2016. </p><p>With her father recently stepping back from his CEO role into a chief strategy officer role, Gratz and her two brothers, Kent and Lee, will continue growing the company and changing neighborhoods. </p><p>"We really focus on the properties that are just on the edge of a downtown area with a focus on revitalization," she says. These properties have often sat abandoned for 20 years. The way we approach projects is with the community in mind. We're trying to make a positive impact on the community, not just trying to hit a number on the bottom line." </p> <span> <hr/></span> <p>The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 21,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.</p><p>​</p><p><br/></p><span><div class="cstm-section"><h3>WashU Women & Engineering</h3><div> <strong></strong></div><div style="text-align: center;">Women & Engineering was established as an organization for engineering alumnae from Washington University in St. Louis to support each other; inspire and mentor our women students; and help shape the School of Engineering & Applied Science.</div><div style="text-align: center;"><br/></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 1em;"><a href="/alumni/programs-events/Pages/women-engineering.aspx">>> Read more & get involved</a></span></div></div></span>Mariah Weyland GratzBeth Miller2017-02-15T06:00:00ZGratz was named among the Louisville Business First's "Forty Under 40," which recognizes young professionals making important contributions in the business community.

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