After piloting several successful research collaborations in 2013 between Children’s Hospital Colorado, the University of Colorado and Mines, four new projects have been announced for 2014.

Modeling Metabolics
Cecilia Diniz Behn, assistant professor of mathematics at Mines, is working with Melanie Cree Green, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology at UC Denver, to develop a protocol to assess tissue-specific insulin resistance in pediatric patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a common cause of female infertility that is also linked to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Diniz Behn’s role will be to develop a mathematical model of glucose and insulin dynamics that quantifies key aspects of metabolism in different tissues.

Prosthetic Hands
Ozkan Celik, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Mines, Anton Filatov MS ’14, a mechanical engineering doctoral student at Mines, and Richard Weir, associate professor of bioengineering at UC Denver, are paving the way for smaller prosthetic hands. Currently, the gearboxes and motors in these systems are rigidly coupled. Their goal is to develop a system for transferring torque across a joint, which would allow motors and gearboxes to be housed in separate sections of a prosthetic finger; this would allow for more compact designs.

Anne Silverman, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Mines, and Travis Heare, associate professor of orthopedics at UC Denver, are gathering data on the muscle and joint function of people who have undergone rotationplasty, a surgical procedure offered as an alternative to amputation above the knee. When a tumor necessitates total removal of a patient’s knee, the remaining portion of the leg can be rotated and reattached to the thigh, allowing the ankle to function as a new knee joint. Their results will inform surgical methods and rehabilitation protocols to maximize mobility in people who have undergone this procedure.

Targeted Drug Delivery
Brian G. Trewyn, assistant professor of chemistry and geochemistry at Mines, and Colm Collins, assistant professor of pediatrics at UC Denver, are developing a targeted drug delivery system for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. Trewyn’s role will be to develop nanoparticle polymers whose surfaces are chemically designed to adhere only to diseased cells, allowing for the targeted delivery of drugs that are embedded in the polymer particles. Trewyn says this approach to targeted drug delivery has many potential applications beyond IBD.