WMU News

Faculty and staff garner research, service grants

March 1, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University faculty and staff members attracted more than $17 million in external funding during a recent three-month period to support research and service projects that run the gamut from bolstering what teachers know and understand about American history to putting laser tweezers and scanning electrochemical microscopy to work in new ways.

Grants totaling $17,052,595 were awarded to WMU faculty and staff in November and December 2003, and January 2004. The three-month total, which was reported to the WMU Board of Trustees at their Feb. 27 meeting, includes notable grants from the state of Michigan, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NASA and the U.S. Department of Education.

The largest grant noted for the period is a previously announced $10 million award authorized by the Michigan Legislature. The money helps fund the new Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center, which is housed on WMU's Parkview Campus and draws on existing pharmaceutical development expertise to support the commercialization of life science discoveries.

The Feb. 27 report also includes a federally backed $1 million math education grant that was announced in November for a project led by Dr. Christian R. Hirsch, professor of mathematics, and it references the W.M. Keck Foundation's $500,000 award that will help scientists unlock the mysteries of cell biology. The Keck grant is part of a $1 million research project at WMU's Nanotechnology Research and Computation Center, directed by Dr. Subra Muralidharan, associate professor of chemistry.

Another grant reported was is a $102,451 award from the U.S. Department of Defense for research aimed at developing a new method for the early detection of prostate cancer, which is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer-related death among men.

"The American Cancer Society estimated in 2003 that about 220,900 new cases of prostate cancer would be diagnosed, resulting in 28,000 deaths," says Dr. Massood Zandi Atashbar, the project co-director. "Identifying and diagnosing the cancer at its earliest stage is crucial."

Atashbar, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is leading the project with Dr. Bruce E. Bejcek, an associate professor of biological sciences. The two will use acoustic sensors to detect very low concentrations of the enzyme that is considered the most effective biomarker for prostate cancer.

Additional grants reported

Third Wave Systems Inc. awarded $195,001 for a project that aims to improve the manufacturing of brittle-material parts made from ceramics as well as semiconductors, advanced metallics and other related materials. The research will be led by Dr. John A. Patten, chairperson of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering and director of WMU's Center for Manufacturing Research.

The University of Montana awarded $75,000 for evaluation of a project designed to bolster the number of women working in science and engineering jobs. Dr. Jerry Horn, principal research associate with the Evaluation Center, is the chief investigator.

The Michigan Army National Guard awarded $20,000 to Dr. Karim Essani, professor of biological sciences, to conduct a series of lectures and lab demonstrations dealing with first responder training involving weapons of mass destruction.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400