BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Johnson & Johnson, through its Focused
Giving Program, has committed $180,000 to the University at Buffalo
to develop a biologically inspired smart sensor system (BIS3) that
would have potential applications in medical and industrial
situations, and that could enhance U.S. military efforts to improve
The grant to the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
(SEAS) will support a project led by two faculty members in the
Department of Electrical Engineering -- Albert H. Titus, assistant
professor, and Alexander N. Cartwright, associate professor --
conducted through the UB Institute for Lasers, Photonics and
SEAS Dean Mark H. Karwan expressed his appreciation to Johnson
& Johnson for its support of the research on sensor
"This is a great opportunity for us to interact with Johnson
& Johnson, the world's most comprehensive and broadly based
manufacturer of health-care products and a provider of related
services," Karwan said. "It is an affirmation of the strength of
our engineering and sensors program and the progress we've made in
Paras N. Prasad, executive director of the Institute for Lasers,
Photonics and Biophotonics and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the
Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences and
Samuel P. Capen Chair, said the Johnson & Johnson grant "will
allow the institute under the direction of Professors Titus and
Cartwright to develop basic innovative biological and chemical
sensors that can be embedded easily within a sensor network. It
will provide an important impetus in maintaining the institute's
leadership in this very important area."
The Focused Giving Program opens doors to new scientific
developments, said Theodore Torphy, corporate vice president of
science and technology for Johnson & Johnson, as well as
promoting mutually beneficial relationships between scientists at
Johnson & Johnson and those at universities and research
"We are achieving a significant expansion of our own scientific
capabilities and opportunities through the Focused Giving network,
and this cannot help but lead to more and better health-care
products in the future," Torphy said.
Titus said that while many other research projects exist on
sensor technology, the approach of the UB project is "unique and,
combined with the sensor technology we are developing, will be
Titus said a fully developed smart sensor system could be used
for health monitoring of buildings, with the sensors monitoring and
responding "to targeted toxins or hazards."
The proposed system in the UB study integrates the specificity
of immunological selection, nanotechnology, fiber optics and
electro-flexible polymeric membranes as a prototype for the
detection of targeted biologics. Titus explained that such a system
could be designed to detect the presence and quantity of certain
"The intelligence of the system enables it to respond and
perhaps make other measurements to verify the initial reading, and
then respond in other ways," he said.
As research advances, Titus said the technology could lead to
other uses, including life support.
"Ultimately, the goal would be to have a self-contained system
that can supplement organ function in the human body," he said.
The Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics is a
multidisciplinary research center that incorporates the expertise
of chemists, physicists, engineers and biomedical researchers. The
institute's work in smart sensor technology involves the
integration of photonics technology -- from photonics
communications, to photonics-based sensors, to hybrid electronic/
photonic processing for a distributed smart sensor network -- with
chemical and biological detection modalities.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State
University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue their
academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate
and professional degree programs.
Johnson & Johnson, founded in 1886, has 110,600 employees in
more than 200 operating companies in 57 countries around the world,
selling products in more than 175 countries.
Since the inception of the Focused Giving Program at Johnson
& Johnson in 1980, more than $46 million has been awarded to
academic investigators doing basic research to advance science and
technology in medical fields. Huw M.L. Davies, Ph.D., UB
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Larkin Professor of
Organic Chemistry, received a Focused Giving grant in 2000.