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Investigator Spotlights

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Dartmouth researchers were awarded $8.9 million during February, including $3.8 million in new and competing awards. Here, Vox spotlights some of the investigators and their work.

Elsa Garmire, the Sydney E. Junkins 1887 Professor of Engineering

garmireElsa Garmire (Photo by Doug Fraser)
National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance
Engineering a Sustainable Business Model Framework for Scalable Mobile Entrepreneurship in the Developing World

What: "There are now four billion cell phones globally, with more than half of those in countries that have not yet reached economic maturity," notes Garmire. "Partnering with students at the Advanced Information Technology Institute at the Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in Accra, Ghana, Thayer students will work to identify new applications for cell phones in developing countries."

Inspiration: Garmire says the project was inspired by mPedigree, an organization co-founded by Thayer Ph.D. candidate Ashifi Gogo, which seeks to use cell phones to validate the authenticity of pharmaceuticals.

Global learning: "The project will assist both Thayer and Ghanaian students in going beyond pure technology into innovation, learning entrepreneurship and business skills as key competencies," says Garmire.

Ryan Halter, assistant professor of engineering

halterRyan Halter (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)
Intuitive Surgical Inc.

Surgical Margin Detection of Prostate with EIS: Laboratory Investigation

Why: "Prostate cancer surgery aims to remove all tumor cells from the body," Halter notes. "Unfortunately, small islands of cancer cells are occasionally left behind." This requires additional treatment including radiation and chemotherapy. Halter and his team are working to develop an instrument that could help surgeons better identify the boundaries between cancerous and healthy tissue during prostate surgery.

Out of the lab: Halter's research group has spent two years documenting significant differences in the electrical properties of malignant and benign prostate, using excised tissue samples. "With this project, we start translating our laboratory experience to the clinical arena," he says. The long-term hope: reducing how much additional therapy men with prostate cancer undergo.

Teamwork: Collaborators on this project include Alex Hartov, professor of engineering at Thayer School of Engineering, as well as Dr. John Heaney, professor of surgery, and Dr. Alan Schned, professor of pathology, at DHMC. Researchers at the funding source, Intuitive Surgical Inc., are also supporting the effort.

Yolanda Sanchez, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology

sanchezYolanda Sanchez (Photo by Mark Washburn)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Identification of Drug Targets for NF1

Why: "About 1 in 3,500 people have a mutation in the NF1 gene that leads to neurofibromatosis, a disorder that predisposes individuals to develop cancers associated with nerves and bone abnormalities," Sanchez explains. Right now, there is no effective way to treat those tumors. "The project's initial goal," she says, "is to identify molecules with the potential to be developed, in the long term, as the basis for cancer therapeutics."

New possibilities: "This award represents a new direction for the laboratory," says Sanchez.  "It is an exciting collaboration with chemists, clinicians, and individuals who have developed animal models of this disease."

A growing team: "Our major collaborator is Dr. Nancy Ratner at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio" Sanchez notes, "and we are building new collaborations both here at Dartmouth and in Cincinnati based on our preliminary findings."

waddellRichard Waddell (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Richard Waddell, research assistant professor of medicine

University of Massachusetts Medical Center
New England AIDS Education and Training Center

What: "This grant provides funding for the AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) for New Hampshire," says Waddell. "It supports training of health care professionals throughout the state on issues related to HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment."

An expanding commitment: "This funding makes it possible to build on our long-term training programs in HIV/AIDS, and to expand and complement them," Waddell says. "For example, it supports 'special emphasis' training that focuses on new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control on HIV testing and prevention outreach to Native American population groups."

Teamwork: Dr. Ford von Reyn, the grant's co-investigator, is the AETC's medical director. In addition to DHMC and Dartmouth faculty, the New Hampshire AETC collaborates with the NH Dental Society, the NH Society of Health-System Pharmacists, regional hospitals, AIDS service organizations, and Wijokadoak, an Abenaki cultural preservation group.


Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 3/30/09