Industry/University Research Center For Biosurfaces Invites Companies to Become Members

Release Date: January 11, 1994 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- What does the skin of a dolphin have in common with the inside of your cheek?

That shared characteristic is the focus of important surface-science research now being conducted at the National Science Foundation's Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Biosurfaces.

Researchers with the center, headquartered at the University at Buffalo, are studying the unique nonstick qualities of dolphin skin and oral mucosa with the hope of applying the findings to artificial heart valves and the linings of artificial hearts. Conversely, the study of the strong bio-binding of teeth and tubeworms hopefully will show researchers how to make "engineered" organisms stick better to the walls of bioreactors.

Biotechnology companies looking to sharpen their competitive edge with such highly specialized, multidisciplinary research findings now have an opportunity to become members of the center as it begins its 1994-96 program.

The center is the only peer-reviewed national industry/university program devoted to advancing biotechnology and surface science. It is part of the National Science Foundation's Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week.

Examples of research projects now underway at the center include the study and simulation of biofilms (infections) that build up on artificial limbs and dental and medical implants, the use of a glow-discharge treatment to make tissues more accepting of prosthetic devices and the study of mechanical forces in biological systems for application to bioremediation of hazardous waste sites.

"Member companies aren't just buying a seat on our advisory board. All of their money gets spent at the bench," said Robert E. Baier, Ph.D., UB biomaterials professor and center director.

"Each company pays $25,000 to the center and also provides $15,000 of services-in-kind, such as access to specialized analytical equipment in the performance of highly specialized cell-culture tests," he added. "Then they get to co-own all of the research results."

Companies that have been members of the center include American Cyanamid, Becton Dickinson, Procter & Gamble, Bausch & Lomb, and GIBCO/Life Technologies, Inc. The U.S. Navy also has participated through its Office of Naval Research.

Membership in the center entitles companies to decide on research priorities for center scientists, to review new data before it is submitted for publication, to foster rapid technology transfer by discussing scientific findings as they evolve, to arrange for company and center personnel to work together, and to share all patents on a royalty-free basis. Exclusive ownership of new technology is available by negotiation. The university's normal overhead fee is waived for center members.

• A novel thin-film coating process that spontaneously cleans electrosurgical blades as biological debris builds up.

• Peelable, nonpolluting coatings for ships, pipes, coastal structures and buoys.

• A water-based formulation that destroy biofilms.

Proposed projects for 1994-96 include work developing bioadhesion models; identifying interventions that successfully control, remove, replace or prevent accumulations of biomass at solid/liquid interfaces, and determining fundamental forces and structures that are critical to the attachment and activity of bioadhesive organisms or organelles to well-characterized substrates.

For further information and a copy of the prospectus, call Susan M. Arnold at the center at 716-829-3560, or fax a request to 716-835-4872.

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