Posted: April 24, 2007

Nebraska nanotechnology at BIO 2007

(Nanowerk News) In Nebraska, research on nanoparticle sensors with sensitivity rivaling human fingers could give robots a delicate sense of touch. A computer-aided orthopedic surgical system could enable surgeons to do faster, less invasive, more precise bone cutting and alignment of implants, which may increase the life of artificial joints. And the nation's only 10-bed patient biocontainment unit is setting the standard for academic institution preparedness, and antimicrobial drug discovery.
These discoveries and updates on dozens of other bioscience research and business partnerships are part of the Nebraska Pavilion at the BIO 2007 Annual International Convention May 6-9 in Boston. A team of more than 25 Nebraska scientists, policymakers, university leaders and economic development experts will be on hand in Boston to demonstrate Nebraska technology, research and development to 20,000 international visitors. The event is the world's largest gathering of bioscience executives, investors, journalists, policymakers and scientists drawing visitors from more than 60 countries.
The Nebraska contingent is led by Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association and includes representatives from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Technology Park, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Representatives from UNL's Office of Technology Development and from UNeMed, UNMC's technology transfer company, will be on hand to promote the commercial potential of numerous university technologies and inventions.
The BIO convention is the place to be if you're serious about being a part of the biotechnology industry, said Julie Karavas, director of Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association. Bio Nebraska was formed in 2005 to coordinate and expand life sciences in the state.
"It is a great opportunity for Nebraskans interested and invested in biotechnology to make contacts and let people know what is happening in our state in biotechnology," Karavas said. "This conference is the place for everyone in the industry to share the word about new discoveries and build awareness and excitement about economic opportunities in the industry, both nationally and globally."
This is the third year that there has been a statewide presence at the convention and the seventh year that the University of Nebraska Medical Center has had an exhibit, said Don Leuenberger, vice chancellor of business and finance for UNMC.
"We are looking forward to another opportunity to showcase the promising technologies UNMC has in development," Leuenberger said. "The exposure UNMC and Nebraska gets at BIO is phenomenal. It's a chance at showing people around the world that we are on the map and are interested in attracting researchers and potential partners that ultimately improve health and benefit Nebraska's economy."
The advantages UNL gets from participation are also important to its efforts life sciences research, according to Prem Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research.
"Our faculty have so much innovative research work under way in biosciences and BIO is a great opportunity to showcase this work," Paul said. "This is a terrific opportunity for the university to team with business and industry representatives to tell the world about the great things that are happening in Nebraska, to increase our visibility and generate broader interest that could lead to partnerships and economic opportunities."
Among the UNL biosciences research to be highlighted is a nanoparticle-based sensor with sensitivity rivaling human fingers that could help surgeons more precisely remove cancerous tumors or give robots a delicate sense of touch. UNL will also feature a recent discovery of how a "necklace" of gold nanoparticles can conduct electricity, which could lead to development of bioelectronics. UNMC will highlight a recombinant protein purification technology and partnership in a $36 billion-a-year industry, as well as research on a computer-aided orthopedic surgical system that could enable surgeons to do faster, less invasive, more precise bone cutting and alignment of implants, which may increase the life of artificial joints. UNMC will also highlight its strength in biosecurity and biopreparedness, including the country's only 10-bed patient biocontainment unit, laboratory data exchange, antimicrobial drug discovery, academic institution preparedness, and Multi-State Mutual Aid.
Lincoln and Omaha chamber and state Department of Economic Development representatives will present Nebraska as a state with numerous jobs, ample economic opportunities and a cooperative, supportive business and industry climate.
"Among the many benefits Nebraska offers businesses, the Nebraska Advantage incentives provides credits, including an R&D tax credit," said Richard Baier, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. "Combined with our expanding list of leading bioscience related businesses, medical and research centers, and a highly productive, skilled workforce, Nebraska stands out as a state for the bioscience industry."
Visitors to the Nebraska Pavilion will enter a drawing for Omaha Steaks. The Nebraska Pavilion at BIO in Chicago in 2006 drew more than 2,000 visitors. Visit for more information, including convention agenda, exhibitors and accommodations.
"In Nebraska, the life sciences industry is thriving because its workforce has a flare for technology, and the state's tax incentive programs make it profitable for internationally known companies to expand," Karavas said. Nebraska is home to numerous biotechnology companies already. "That, combined with Nebraska's major medical centers in Omaha, the University of Nebraska's bioscience research centers in Lincoln and two new technology parks, make Nebraska a great place for the life sciences community."
Source: University of Nebraska - Lincoln