December 2009

You're Invited to Senior Design!
The Weldon School's undergraduate curriculum capstone course, Senior Design, culminates with the public presentation and demonstration of each team's project. Participation and questions from our friends and alumni are literally the icing on the cake of this rich experience. Your expertise brings a new dimension to the experience as students fine tune their softer skills while showcasing their harder, engineering skills. On December 17th from 3:20 - 5:20pm, we are proud to showcase this semester's senior design teams. You are invited to join us in our Martin C. Jischke Hall of Biomedical Engineering Room 1001. A reception with light refreshments and project demonstrations will follow the more formal presentations. This semester, each of nine teams was challenged with a unique problem:

• Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. High intraocular pressure (IOP) is one of the major risk factors associated with glaucoma; however, increased IOP is commonly undetectable by patients, until severe damage has already occurred. The Los Ojos team has developed an optical pressure sensor device to monitor intraocular pressure as a preventative measure to notify patients and their ophthalmologist when the patient is displaying early predictors of glaucoma.

• Currently, there are minimal options available to quadriplegics to allow them independent motion. To eliminate the need for an assistive technology device which will promote a more independent lifestyle for quadriplegics, Team CFX has developed a brain-computer interface system that employs changes in a user’s electroencephalogram (EEG) signals to control a motorized wheel chair.

• In developing countries, respiratory distress is one of the leading causes for preterm infant deaths. Studies have indicated that the noninvasive ventilation method of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can improve the survival rate of these infants. Team Fantastically Awesome was challenged with developing a CPAP device that was not cost-prohibitive and functioned in the diverse environmental climates of developing countries.

• With the increasing prevalence in cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the population, there is a need for early recognition of contributing factors. Team Restenosis Watch has developed a wireless stent-based restenosis monitor to record and alert physicians of changes in a patient’s artery blockage.

• Poor blood circulation and neuropathy cause complications for diabetics that can lead to limb ulceration, chronic infections, and, ultimately, limb loss. To avoid these complications, Team Amputee has designed a therapeutic device to improve blood circulation and sensation in the legs of at-risk diabetics by introducing controlled compression and heat therapy.

• To better improve the lifestyle of insulin dependent diabetics, a more effective disease monitoring and treatment device needs to be developed. Team Sweet Tooth has designed a wireless artificial pancreas device that continuously monitors and regulates a patient’s blood glucose level.

• Modern day prosthetics continue to evolve in order to improve the everyday lives of amputees. While great strides have been made, there are still obstacles to overcome, such as, poor gait characteristics, limited range of motion, and limited ability to participate in activities such as walking, driving, and running. Team Kid Kangaroo has developed a myoelectrically controlled lower limb prosthetic device that allows a user to participate in impact activities.

• Atherosclerosis is a disease in which fatty substances build up on the wall of arteries to form what is called plaque. While atherosclerotic plaques reduce blood flow, a more substantial danger exists when the plaque breaks off and becomes mobile; these mobile, plaque particles travel through the circulatory system where they can block arteries, possibly resulting in heart attacks or strokes. The PowerGrate Team has developed an atherectomy catheter to remove hard plaque buildup without causing damage to arterial walls and improve blood flow in the coronary artery.

• The API team has a 2 component project: Initially, team API found themselves working with Abbott Point of Care (APOC) to develop a companion device to the i-STAT system. The i-STAT 1®, a handheld system that can perform a variety of in vitro diagnostic tests (blood gases, electrolytes, coagulation, etc.) from a small blood sample. To improve the diversity of tests available for near-patient care the API team has developed a hand-powered companion device that can separate plasma from whole blood collected from a whole blood sampling container within 45 seconds. This device was designed to readily integrate with an i-STAT cartridge®. Using their experience from developing a plasma isolation device, Team API took on an additional challenge to design a point of care device to detect sickle cell anemia. It is hoped that the development of this device will decrease costs and improve testing availability for this life-crippling disease in developing nations.

Biomedship Students Win Global Entrepreneurial Competition
GlucaGo LLC, a life sciences company led by a trio from Purdue and Indiana universities, captured first place in the 2009 Global Idea to Product Competition, beating 14 other teams and claiming the $10,000 top prize for their emergency kit that automatically mixes and injects medication for diabetics.


The competition, held Oct. 30 and 31 in Austin, Texas, featured teams from 19 universities and eight countries - Great Britain, Portugal, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Brazil, and U.S. competitors from Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado and New Hampshire.

Leading the GlucaGo team are Rush Bartlett, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Purdue who is simultaneously completing a MBA at IU; Arthur Chlebowski, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Purdue; and Peter Greco, who is pursuing an MBA from Purdue. "As graduate students with limited financial resources, it's difficult to get the money to start a business," Bartlett said. "Because of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a hands-on education we decided to take a gamble and take out student loans to pay for the prototype. This win means we can continue pursuing the dream to be entrepreneurs."

The annual competition challenges students to create a product concept using innovative technology with a marketing plan that outlines a roadmap to commercialize the product. For the first time, this year's event was divided into three categories with separate themes: sustainability and clean energy, biomedical technology, and information technology/wireless.

The Purdue-IU team created the technology as part of Purdue’s Biomedical Entrepreneurship (Biomedship) program, established a limited liability company, and have licensed the technology from Purdue's Office of Technology Commercialization. In addition to working with the Purdue's biomedical engineering program, Krannert School of Management and Biomedship program, the team collaborated with a diabetes specialist at IU's School of Medicine, she said. The Rose-Hulman Ventures Lab in Terre Haute, Ind., created the prototype to the student's specifications.

More information on GlucaGo LLC can be found at


Professor Paul Robinson Summits Mt. Everest
What started out as an off-handed comment resulted in the adventure of a lifetime for J. Paul Robinson, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Cytomics and Immunopharmacology at Purdue.

Robinson had been trying to raise funds to provide low-cost HIV/AIDS diagnostics to poor countries through Cytometry for Life, a foundation he founded. He commented, “It’s probably easier to climb Mt. Everest than to raise money for this!” and then went about trying to prove himself wrong. 

The entire trip took nine weeks: from March 28th until June 2nd. Seven to eight of those weeks were spent acclimatizing–climbing various other mountains, sometimes several times. Finally, they set off for the summit, travelling from Base Camp, to Camp I, Camp II, Camp III, Camp IV, and finally to the Summit. “I did it because I hope it helps to open doors,” he says. “I hope people are interested and listen as a result.”

For a more detailed account of the expedition, check out Professor Robinson’s blog:

Weldon Graduate Students Shine
While every year graduate student awards are announced, this fall was special as Weldon graduate students received a plethora of national, university, college, and department recognitions. Please join us in celebrating these outstanding students.

Three BME Graduate Students Receive NSF Fellowships

Out of 19 NSF graduate research fellowships awarded to Purdue this year, three have come to BME students.

Jamie Brugnano, Serena Pearce and Scott Van Dyke have all been notified that they will receive three years of support for graduate study so they can focus on research related to their degrees. Brugnano works with Professor Brandon Seal, Pearce does research with Professor Corey Neu, and Van Dyke is working in Professor Ozan Akkus' laboratory.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship is the country's oldest graduate fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in various STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees. This year, approximately 1,200 fellowships were awarded in the United States.

Victoria Poole Selected for Carver Fellowship

Victoria Poole, a graduate student in Biomedical Engineering, has been selected to receive a George Washington Carver Fellowship.

The George Washington Carver (GWC) Doctoral Fellowship is awarded annually to encourage students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or Tribal colleges, who have demonstrated superior academic achievements and abilities, to attend Purdue University. Recipients of this fellowship are doctoral-seeking students who aspire to a career as a professor/researcher in higher education. Purdue University President Emeritus Martin C. Jischke initiated the George Washington Carver Fellowship in honor of this great African-American educator, researcher, and innovator.


Catherine Whittington Selected for Fearnot Award

Catherine Whittington, a biomedical engineering student studying with Professor Sherry Voytik-Harbin, has been selected as the recipient of the Fearnot Prize for 2009.

Dr. Neal Fearnot, currently of Med Institute, established this award because he felt that the experience he gained as a student presenter at the BME summer seminar series was extremely valuable. The award is presented to the graduate student whose presentation receives the highest evaluation from the faculty, students and staff attending the seminars.

Whittington's presentation was based on her current doctoral research on matrix-induced in vitro vasculogenesis by endothelial colony forming cells.


Three BME Students Selected to Receive Bourland Travel Awards

Three Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering students were selected to receive this fall's Joe Bourland Travel Awards

The purpose of the Joe Bourland Graduate Student Travel Award is to provide travel support to graduate students in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering to conferences as part of their graduate studies. Dr. Joe Bourland was one of the "Fab 4" to come from Baylor University (along with Dr. Geddes, Dr. Tacker, and Dr. Babbs) in 1974 to begin the Hillenbrand Biomedical Engineering Center that eventually became the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Emily Gullotti traveled to the Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery Symposium 2009, held in Indianapolis, IN from October 5-6, 2009. She is working with Professor Yoon Yeo. Henry Chen attended the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Fall meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, October 7-10, 2009. He works with Professors Ghassan Kassab at IUPUI and Eric Nauman at Purdue. The third recipient, Cal Rabang, attended the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, October 16-21, 2009, and is currently studying under Professor Ed Bartlett.


Four BME Graduate Students Selected for Dollens Scholarship 

James McMasters, Onyekachi Odoemene, Yunzhou (Sophia) Shi and Jun Zhao, graduate students in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, have been selected to receive a Ronald W. Dollens Graduate Scholarship.

The scholarships were established by the Guidant Foundation in 2003 to honor Ronald Dollens, who graduated with a degree in pharmacy from Purdue. The scholarship is intended to serve as a catalyst for the combination of pharmaceutical and biomedical engineering research expertise at Purdue; facilitate the increased understanding of cardiovascular disease; and enable the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.

Mr. Dollens continues to serve society by influencing health policies that affect  our nation. He spends much time in Washington, D.C., working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

McMasters came to Purdue after working at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center. He earned his BS from Case Western Reserve University in 2006, and is currently working with Professor Alyssa Panitch.

Odoemene earned his BS from George Washington University in 2009, just prior to joining Professor Marshall Porterfield's research group at Purdue.

Shi is working with advisor Professor Ji-Xin Cheng, and Zhao is working with co-advisors Professors Dong Xie and Gudrun Schmidt.

Jason Toler Receives Chappelle Fellowship

Jason Toler, a biomedical engineering graduate student working with Professor Ozan Akkus, has been selected to receive a 2009 Charles C. Chappelle Fellowship.

The Charles C. Chappelle Fellowship provides a one-year fellowship to students with undergraduate degrees from Purdue for the furtherance of post-graduate research at Purdue University. Chappelle Fellows are selected on the basis of character, intellectual ability, and promise of degree attainment.

Congratulations to all recipients!


As always, we welcome you to join us as we advance both higher education and the medical device and biotechnology fields. If you are interested in learning more about the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, please contact Julia Colby, our Manager of Development Operations, at We would like to learn about you, answer your questions, and schedule a visit.