IGERT: Biophotonics Materials and Applications
Alexander Cartwright Principal Investigator
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The thrust of this IGERT program in biophotonics is to produce graduates capable of crossing the existing boundaries between Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine and Engineering, the combination of which constitutes the multidisciplinary research environments necessary for advancing biophotonics. Novel applications and/or solutions to technological problems involving the use of photonics (lasers and optics) in biology and medicine, and the use of biological materials in photonic applications, have been slow to develop due to the lack of a common ground upon which the current researchers, who come from a variety of disciplines, can interact. Specifically, this program emphasizes graduate research, education and training through the extension of on-going integrative research that includes: (i) nanotechnology (fabrication and application) as a tool in developing new, and improving existing, optical imaging techniques for real-time imaging of cells and cellular processes, (ii) developing the next generation of biosensors and improving sensing applications, (iii) using nanotechnology and laser technology for targeting and treatment in cancer therapy, (iv) applying computer and information technologies in the development of new models and data analysis for understanding cellular mechanisms, (v) developing new photonic devices and systems that are hybrids of traditional polymeric and semiconductor materials with biological materials, and (vi) molding the existing curriculum to provide students with maximum exposure to the diversity of biophotonics and prepare them to operate effectively in this rapidly advancing and changing field. The program will involve graduate students and faculty from Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Biological Sciences, and the Medical School at the University at Buffalo (State University of New York), from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and from Hauptman-Woodward Medical Institute (all located in Buffalo, NY). A cross-disciplinary curriculum will be developed that will provide Ph.D and Masters degree graduates with the ability to cross the existing boundaries between the many areas of biophotonics. This program builds upon the strengths of the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB), at the University at Buffalo, which has as one of its goals to create a multidisciplinary environment using the common thread of photonics. Moreover, this program will capitalize on recent investments in the ILPB for the development of biophotonics: equipment, laboratory space, and educational training facilities.<br/><br/>IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the multidisciplinary backgrounds and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing new, innovative models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. In the fourth year of the program, awards are being made to twenty-two institutions for programs that collectively span all areas of science and engineering supported by NSF. The intellectual foci of this specific award reside in the Directorates for Engineering; Biological Sciences; Mathematical and Physical Sciences; and Education and Human Resources.