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Vol.10, No.3-4   October 1999 

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In the News

Outstanding Research Makes DOE National Laboratories Major Asset in Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Research at DOE National Labs, DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER). Report DOE/SC-1999-1, 106 pp., paperback. The text below was adapted by HGMIS from the report preface by Michael Viola, director of the DOE OBER Medical Sciences Division.

Biomedical engineering—the application of physics, chemistry, and engineering principles to problems of human health—has been a critical part of work at the DOE national laboratories since 1947.

The Atomic Energy Commission's first director of biology and medicine, Shields Warren, had the vision to develop a formal research program outside the restricted scope of industrial health and safety. The national laboratories were recognized immediately as a source of medically important radioisotopes for use both as research reagents and as potential weapons against cancer. By the end of 1947, almost 2000 radioisotope deliveries had been made to laboratories and hospitals.

During the next decade, cyclotrons and reactors generated radioisotopic tracers under controlled conditions. The new field of radiopharmacy (attaching radionuclides to biologically active molecules and studying their activity) was greatly advanced by work in the national laboratories, where instrumentation originated to detect the cellular and total body distribution of these new radiotracers. The results have been spectacular —all major hospitals in the world rely heavily on technologies developed, in part, in the DOE national laboratories.

Their talented scientists and extraordinary technologies have made the national laboratories a major asset for biomedical engineering, and their specialized resources traditionally have led to multidisciplinary science projects and enabled science often not possible at universities or industry. During the past two decades, bioengineering programs have been beneficiaries of rapid advances in nuclear physics, nuclear engineering, nuclear chemistry, and molecular biology. Research on the medical applications of such technologies as synchrotron light sources, lasers, mass spectrometry, high-field magnets, microfabricated machines, biosensors, and DNA chips is ongoing in many of the laboratories.

This January 1999 inventory of biomedical engineering projects (see below for examples), supported in the national laboratories by different offices of DOE and with discretionary lab funds, will be updated yearly. The extraordinary breadth and depth of projects, investigators, and areas of expertise should stimulate networking and collaboration among DOE scientists and those in universities and industry. [Print copies: Sharon Betson (301/903-3213, sharon.betson@science.doe.gov)]

Some Projects Described In OBER Report

  • Advanced Lower-Limb Prosthetics (Morton Lieberman, SNL)
  • Alzheimer's Disease as a Systemic Disorder (Thomas Budinger, LBNL)
  • Biochip for Medical Diagnosis (Tuan Vo-Dinh, ORNL)
  • Carbon-Based Prosthetic Devices (David Devlin, LANL)
  • Clot Removal by Laser (R.P. Godwin, LANL)
  • Diagnostics for Lyme Borreliosis (John Dunn, BNL)
  • Disinfection of Drinking Water (Paul Weaver, National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
  • Dissolvable Stents (William Samuels, PNNL)
  • Electronic Nose on a Chip (R.J. Warmack, ORNL)
  • Genetic Reader (Edward Yeung, Ames)
  • Human Skin Cancer Prevention (B. Sutherland, BNL)
  • Noninvasive Biomedical Monitoring (David Haaland, SNL)
  • Noninvasive Measurement of Intracranial Pressure (William Wray, LANL)
  • Oxygen Generation for Medical Applications (Timothy Armstrong, PNNL)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in Cocaine Abuse (N.D. Volkow, BNL)
  • PET in Schizophrenia (S. Dewey, BNL)
  • PET Imaging of Estrogen Metabolisms in Breast Cancer (Y-S. Ding, BNL)
  • Radiation Therapy for Pediatric Brain Tumors (F.A. Dilmanian, BNL)
  • Rapid Identification of Microbial Species (Paul Jackson, LANL)
  • Sex Differences of Dopamine Metabolism (Thomas Nordahl, LBNL)
  • Silicon Microgripper for Surgeons (Abe Lee, LLNL)
  • Tissue Welding Using Laser Energy (Duncan Maitland, LLNL)
  • Ultrasound Mammography (Jim Candy, LLNL)

[For more information on DOE's role in the development of medical imaging, see "A Healthy Citizenry," beginning on p. 20 in the downloadable PDF version of A Vital Legacy (www.ornl.gov/hgmis/publicat/index.shtml#vital).]

The electronic form of the newsletter may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v10n3-4).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.