The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard has been awarded a $12.3 million, four-year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a treatment for sepsis, a commonly fatal bloodstream infection. Sepsis is a major cause of injury and death among combat-injured soldiers in the field, as well as patients in hospital intensive care units.The proposed treatment would involve a miniaturized, dialysislike device that could rapidly clear the blood of a wide range of pathogens, much as a living human spleen does, without removing normal blood cells, proteins, fluids, or electrolytes. This novel “Spleen-on-a-Chip” would be portable, self-contained, and easily inserted into the peripheral blood vessels of a septic patient or soldier.The award, which was announced Sept. 28, is part of DARPA’s Dialysis Like Therapeutics (DLT) program, which seeks to develop ways to dramatically decrease the morbidity and mortality of sepsis. Worldwide, more than 18 million cases of sepsis are reported every year, with more than 6 million resulting in death.“We are very proud to partner with DARPA to pursue a research effort that could potentially transform how we treat patients with sepsis and save lives by quickly cleansing blood free of pathogens while simultaneously treating with antibiotics,” says Donald Ingber, Wyss Institute founding director and principal investigator on the grant. “This is a tremendous example of how the Wyss Institute works to bring together outstanding faculty members, expert technical staff, interdisciplinary resources, novel technologies, and clinical partner institutions, such as Children’s Hospital Boston, to bear on critical medical problems.”The project also includes George Church, a Wyss core faculty member and professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School; Joanna Aizenberg, a Wyss core faculty member and Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute; and Michael Super, a member of the Wyss Advanced Technology Team, as key co-investigators.Researchers plan to incorporate several of the Wyss Institute’s novel technologies in the proposed sepsis dialysis device. The sepsis therapeutic device will leverage recent Wyss Institute advances in organ-on-chip technologies in which key microstructural features of complex organs, such as the spleen, are replicated in microfluidic circuits using microfabrication techniques.Also key to the technology is the use of magnetic nano- and micro-particles coated with a human opsonin — a key component of the body’s innate immune response — that will remove pathogens from flowing human blood using magnetic forces. The opsonin is being genetically engineered to improve its already broad pathogen-binding capacity using directed evolution strategies developed at the institute.In addition, the sepsis therapeutic device will incorporate a “super” slippery surface that was developed by institute researchers as a novel material to prevent the adhesion of ice, crude oil, or even dirt. This technology, which is modeled after the slippery surfaces of carnivorous plants that trap insects sliding into the digestive juices of the plant, will be modified to prevent blood clot formation so that patients will not need to be treated with anticoagulants, such as heparin, when attached to the sepsis therapeutic device.The Wyss Institute is a division of Harvard University. Operating in collaboration with Harvard Schools, Harvard-affiliated hospitals, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Wyss Institute conducts broad interdisciplinary research into the principles that living systems use to build, control, and manufacture, and applies these insights to develop novel materials and devices in areas as diverse as architecture, medicine, robotics, manufacturing, and the environment.
Mothers and fathers of members of the junior class are traveling from all around the country for Notre Dame’s annual Junior Parents Weekend (JPW).“I want this weekend to be really special, and I want parents to have a magical experience at Notre Dame,” JPW chairperson and junior Shannon Hagedorn said. “This is one of the three big events for parents and students, and I have been trying to do everything I can to make sure it is fabulously wonderful.”Junior Christian Knight said JPW offers a rare opportunity to bring families together on campus. Keri O’Mara | The Observer “With there only being three events on campus — Frosh-O, graduation and JPW — that bring all the parents on campus, it will be cool to have them here one last time before graduation,” Knight said.The weekend will kick off with an opening gala Friday night, held in the Joyce Center, according to the JPW website. Each undergraduate college will host events throughout Saturday afternoon, and families can attend JPW Mass at 5:30 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion, followed by a President’s Dinner, the website stated. The weekend will conclude with a closing brunch Sunday morning.Junior Shane O’Connor said he timing of JPW allows parents and students to enjoy the weekend together while the juniors still feel committed to campus life. He said the special events would complement the time his family has to relax and explore Notre Dame.“I am excited for JPW so that I can have the chance to show my parents what life is like while I’m actually at Notre Dame and not when I’m about to leave.” O’Connor said. “I think that JPW is a nice tradition and I’m most excited to cut a rug at the gala.”Junior Maggie Miller said she looks forward to showing her parents a typical Notre Dame weekend.“I’m most excited about having time on campus with my parents when it’s not a game,” Miller said. “To just hang out, the three of us, without all of the tourists on game day.”Hagedorn said when the junior parents weekend tradition began many years ago, University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh would deliver the benediction at the JPW brunch.“He often spoke about the humble origins of JPW, created under his administration and leadership,” Hagedorn said. “The first JPW was simply a dinner at the Morris Inn for a relatively small number of families, and it grew from that humble beginning.”Hagedorn said she is in charge of a committee of 13 juniors who work together to ensure the weekend goes smoothly.“In a nutshell, my job has been to coordinate everything for the weekend, including recruit a committee of chairs, delegate the jobs for the different events, coordinate various items with multiple vendors, arrange tables for the meals, respond to the emails to the JPW account and make sure that everything is taken care of for the weekend,” Hagedorn said.She said she is most looking forward to seeing her own parents and watching all of the students and parents meet each other.“I can’t wait to see the Notre Dame family and personal families come together and share the special moments of the weekend,” Hagedorn said. “There has been a lot of planning and coordinating, and I’m ready to see the product.”Tags: Community, family, JPW, Junior Parents Weekend, Notre Dame, parents
Versailles, IN—Firefighters from Versailles Fire Rescue responded to a report of a trailer fire at Brownings Campground early Wednesday morning.They say the fire was contained to one room of the trailer. Milan Volunteer Fire Department was also dispatched for automatic mutual aid but was disregarded due to the quick containment of the fire. The Red Cross was contacted to assist the family.