VCU student wins nanotechnology research grant

Richmond, VA (January 26, 2017) – Connor Howe, a Virginia Commonwealth University doctoral student in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, will develop a novel device for treating cerebral aneurysms under a national program to advance nanotechnology research in the Southeastern U.S.

Howe has won a seed grant from the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The principal investigator of the project is Woon-Hong Yeo, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

IEN is coordinating efforts to provide shared nanotechnology facilities to the region through a new Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor (SENIC). The institute, which has provided seed grants to its own graduate students for several years, opened the program to students and principal investigators outside Georgia Tech in 2016 as part of the new regional initiative. Howe is the first researcher not affiliated with Georgia Tech to be selected.

Howe will be able to use the cleanroom and lab facilities at IEN for up to six months to work on his project to create an ultra-thin, flexible sensor integrated with a flow diverter for use in the treatment of cerebral aneurysms. Currently, checking progress after treatment often requires undergoing a procedure as invasive as the initial treatment. By integrating the sensor and the flow diverter, you can monitor “how much blood is still flowing into the aneurysm over the course of the treatment process, so you can determine if it’s successful or not,” he said.

“Using this seed grant,” Howe said, “I’ll be able to fabricate the entire device there.”

Howe and the other four winners in the most recent funding cycle will present the results of their research at the annual IEN User Day in the spring.

Howe’s project originated as a multi-school collaboration with Yeo and two faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh: Youngjae Chun, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering, and Brian Jankowitz, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery.