Center Focusing on Indoor Air Quality Earns National Science Foundation Renewal

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: August 6, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Biosurfaces (IUCB) at the University at Buffalo has been renewed as a "national center" by the National Science Foundation for a five-year term.

The recent renewal marks the fourth consecutive, five-year, "national center" designation for IUCB from the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center Program, managed by the NSF's Division of Engineering Education and Centers. IUCB also receives support from the NSF's International Division in recognition of its work with a similar program at Malmo University in Sweden.

Robert E. Baier, professor in the Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences in the UB School of Dental Medicine and executive director of IUCB, said anticipated funding during the period from federal, state and industry sources is expected to exceed $1 million.

Baier said the center, the work of which currently focuses on air quality, earned renewal of its designation through support from indoor air-cleaning industries in New York State, as well as its work as principal investigator in Western New York for the multi-million-dollar NYSTAR-Environmental Quality Systems Center, headquartered at Syracuse University.

The NYSTAR-EQS Center, a 12-institution consortium funded by the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research, is working through IUCB with air pollution-control experts from Clarkson University and Buffalo State College to assess potential health affects from motor-vehicle traffic crossing the Peace Bridge at the U.S.-Canada border at Buffalo.

IUCB also has a partner research site at the University of Memphis, directed by M. Shah Jahan, chair of that university's Department of Physics.

The director of the UB site is Anne E. Meyer, UB research associate professor in the Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences, who is president of the U.S. Society for Biomaterials. Meyer and Jahan will organize the 32nd national meeting of the Society for Biomaterials, to be held in Memphis in April 2005.

The IUCB is one of only 50 such centers across the country designed by the NSF, each with a specific focus. While the centers are university-based and catalyzed by a small investment from NSF, they primarily are supported by industry members with the goal of benefiting the regional and national economy.

Thus, IUCB's research focus has changed over the years as the chair of its industrial advisory board has changed, Baier noted.

In the center's first term, the board was chaired by a representative of American Cyanamid Corp., and research focused on making successful biomedical implants in support of the center's acknowledged leadership in developing dental implants.

In its second term, the board was chaired first by representatives of Procter & Gamble Corp., and then Smith Nephew Richards, Inc., with research focusing on development of superior cleaning and comfort products for oral and eye care.

During its recently completed third term, the board was chaired by representatives of Johns Manville Corp. and CertainTeed Corp., leading the center's faculty and students to work on protecting respiratory health by understanding, predicting and controlling the fine particles that occur in air in buildings due to dirty ducts or construction dust.

The new IUCB board is chaired by a representative of National Indoor Environmental Quality Research, Inc., a Western New York-based firm dedicated to improving environmental quality through advanced research, training and education, leading to the center's current research focus on air quality.

Baier noted that there are important homeland security aspects of the center's new research program that will be of special interest to federal laboratories and military agencies, as well as to local and worldwide package-delivery organizations.