Waco, TX, United States
Waco, TX, United States

Baylor University is a private Baptist university in Waco, Texas. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, Baylor is the oldest continuously operating university in Texas and was one of the first educational institutions west of the Mississippi River in the United States. The university's 1,000-acre campus is located on the banks of the Brazos River next to freeway I-35, between the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Austin. Baylor University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Baylor is notable for its law, medicine, business, science, music and English programs.Baylor University athletic teams, known as the Bears, participate in 19 intercollegiate sports. The university is a member of the Big 12 Conference for all NCAA Division I athletics. Wikipedia.

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The disclosure provides a sensor and method for the measurement of fluid properties, such as steam energy and steam quality, and/or multiphase and multicomponent fluids and their flow regime profiles in a single instrument, and in some embodiments can include the mass flow rate. The invention can incorporate an orifice function that permits the measurement of fluid energy and a flow profile across at least a portion of the flow path with an electromagnetic sensing method combined with a standard mass flow rate measurement using an orifice differential pressure measurement system.

Baylor University | Date: 2016-09-16

The present disclosure provides a system and method for mass spectrometry imaging in a multi-stage ionization applying different technologies by decoupling the desorption and ionization events. At a first stage, a primary beam, such as an ion beam, desorbs one or more molecules of a targeted sample, and at a second stage the desorbed molecules are ionized. The system and method can act independent of a matrix application to the target sample for a direct analysis and has the spatial resolution needed to operate in nano-meters resolution for a cell-by-cell analysis, if desired. The first stage desorption applies a first technique that allows neutral molecules of the target sample to become desorbed from the surface without requiring the molecules to be ionized during the desorption. The second stage ionizes the neutral molecules after the desorption in the first stage, when the defined target molecules have been volatilized.

Atesok K.,Baylor University
The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons | Year: 2012

Mastering rapidly evolving orthopaedic surgical techniques requires a lengthy period of training. Current work-hour restrictions and cost pressures force trainees to face the challenge of acquiring more complex surgical skills in a shorter amount of time. As a result, alternative methods to improve the surgical skills of orthopaedic trainees outside the operating room have been developed. These methods include hands-on training in a laboratory setting using synthetic bones or cadaver models as well as software tools and computerized simulators that enable trainees to plan and simulate orthopaedic operations in a three-dimensional virtual environment. Laboratory-based training offers potential benefits in the development of basic surgical skills, such as using surgical tools and implants appropriately, achieving competency in procedures that have a steep learning curve, and assessing already acquired skills while minimizing concerns for patient safety, operating room time, and financial constraints. Current evidence supporting the educational advantages of surgical simulation in orthopaedic skills training is limited. Despite this, positive effects on the overall education of orthopaedic residents, and on maintaining the proficiency of practicing orthopaedic surgeons, are anticipated.

Brooks B.W.,Baylor University
Aquatic Toxicology | Year: 2014

A decade has now passed since our research group initially reported several adverse effects of fluoxetine to aquatic organisms commonly employed for developing environmental quality criteria, evaluating whole effluent toxicity, and monitoring ambient toxicity of surface waters and sediments. Our subsequent observation of fluoxetine, sertraline and their active metabolites (norfluoxetine and desmethylsertraline, respectively) accumulating in muscle, liver and brain tissues of three different fish species from an effluent-dominated stream was termed "Fish on Prozac." Here I briefly review some scientific lessons learned from our study of antidepressants and the environment, including opportunities for research, management, environmental education and public outreach. Intrinsic chemical properties of antidepressants and other pharmaceuticals have afforded research in areas ranging from analytical chemistry and comparative pharmacology, to influences of ionization, chirality and adverse outcome pathways on hazard and risk assessment, and further promises to support sustainable molecular design of less hazardous chemicals. Using probabilistic hazard assessment and fish plasma modeling approaches, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants are predicted to result in therapeutic hazard to fish (internal fish plasma level equaling mammalian therapeutic dose) when exposed to water (inhalational) at or below 1. μg/L, a common trigger value for environmental assessments. Though many questions remain unanswered, studies of antidepressants in urbanizing aquatic systems have provided, and will continue to develop, an advanced understanding of environmental hazards and risks from pharmaceuticals and other contaminants. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Emmett M.,Baylor University
Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology | Year: 2014

The acquired form of 5-oxoproline (pyroglutamic acid) metabolic acidosis was first described in 1989 and its relationship to chronic acetaminophen ingestion was proposed the next year. Since then, this cause of chronic anion gap metabolic acidosis has been increasingly recognized. Many cases go unrecognized because an assay for 5-oxoproline is not widely available. Most cases occur in malnourished, chronically ill women with a history of chronic acetaminophen ingestion. Acetaminophen levels are very rarely in the toxic range; rather, they are usually therapeutic or low. The disorder generally resolves with cessation of acetaminophen and administration of intravenous fluids. Methionine or N-acetyl cysteine may accelerate resolution and methionine is protective in a rodent model. The disorder has been attributed to glutathione depletion and activation of a key enzyme in the γ-glutamyl cycle. However, the specific metabolic derangements that cause the 5-oxoproline accumulation remain unclear. An ATP-depleting futile 5-oxoproline cycle can explain the accumulation of 5-oxoproline after chronic acetaminophen ingestion. This cycle is activated by the depletion of both glutathione and cysteine. This explanation contributes to our understanding of acetaminophen-induced 5-oxoproline metabolic acidosis and the beneficial role of N-acetyl cysteine therapy. The ATP-depleting futile 5-oxoproline cycle may also play a role in the energy depletions that occur in other acetaminophen-related toxic syndromes. © 2014 by the American Society of Nephrology.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Genetic Mechanisms | Award Amount: 425.00K | Year: 2016

Hexameric DNA replication helicases are structurally conserved and essential enzymes present throughout all domains of life including most viruses. They utilize a common topological strategy of encircling one strand of duplex DNA to physically separate the duplex by coupled ATP hydrolysis, which results in separated single-strand DNA templates for leading and lagging strand DNA synthesis. Earlier research in the field has focused on DNA contacts within the central channel of these helicases, while recently identified exterior contacts with the excluded DNA strand have largely remained unexplored. This project will assess the importance of external helicase contacts in controlling the speed of DNA replication through direct or indirect interactions with the excluded strand. Because a multitude of hexameric helicases across all domains of life will be compared for the nature of the interactions and the consequences of disrupting them, both in vitro and in vivo, the scientific scope and impact is expected to be broad and influential. Undergraduate and graduate students will be trained in techniques of single molecule fluorescence, advanced enzyme kinetics and precise genetic manipulation. Scientific outreach programs will encourage local elementary school students to explore the wonders of their own genome through DNA Days and engage students in electromagnetism by building their own working audio speakers.

The mechanism of DNA unwinding by hexameric helicases during genome replication currently focuses solely on interactions with the encircled strand and overlooks the implication of contacts with the excluded strand. Preliminary work suggests that these external contacts could be more influential in controlling the speed of replication, coupling enzymes at the replication fork and sensing DNA damage. This project will interrogate and quantify precise chemical specificities of excluded strand interactions, and monitor mutational consequences on replisome speed, enzymatic coordination, and genomic stability, both in vitro and in vivo. The resulting data, methods, and findings will be broadly distributed within the scientific community and will provide further insights and comparisons into the precise mechanisms of action of hexameric helicases in DNA replication across all domains of life.

This project is funded jointly by the Genetic Mechanisms Cluster in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Chemistry of Life Processes Program in the Division of Chemistry in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CERAMICS | Award Amount: 195.00K | Year: 2016

With support from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program in the Division of Chemistry and the Ceramics Program in the Division of Materials Research, Professor Zhang at Baylor University and Professors Sokolov and Voronine at Texas A&M University are applying various Raman techniques to monitor hydrodesulfurization reactions on a semiconductor substrate. Hydrodesulfurization is a catalytic chemical process widely used to remove sulfur from natural gas and from refined petroleum products. Understanding how it happens on a catalytic substrate will help to improve oil refining efficiency and reduce environmental impacts. Traditional plasmonic Raman techniques are used to study these reactions on noble metals (gold, silver, and copper). Although these noble metals are important, the ability to study reactions on non-metallic catalytic substrates is needed. Professors Zhang, Sokolov and Voronine are using the most advanced state-of-the-art Raman spectroscopic techniques to examine reactions on non-metallic substrates, such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). The methods they are developing have the potential to lead to broad applications in many areas other than oil refinery studies. For example, the developed techniques could be used to monitor pollutants in environmental analysis or decipher DNA sequences. Three professors are also actively involved in many outreach activities by bringing the exciting world of nanoplamonics research to undergraduate students and to the general public through the programs such as the Physics Day event on campus, annual scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) training sessions, and the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Professor Zhang at Baylor University, Professors Sokolov and Voronine at Texas A&M University are advancing molecular-level chemical identification of molecules on non-traditional Raman scattering materials, such as MoS2, an important material for heterogeneous catalysis, using a combination of the most advanced Raman spectroscopies. They are working on three subprojects a) to examine the origin of Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) on the two-dimensional (2D) semiconductor; b) to achieve unprecedented Raman signal enhancement on the 2D materials via a combination of the surface enhancement of SERS and the coherence enhancement of Femtosecond Adaptive Spectroscopic Technique for Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (FAST CARS); and c) to identify the chemical composition of reagents, intermediates, and products with submonolayer sensitivity and nanoscale spatial resolution using Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS). Their work focuses on the molecular-level approach to understanding the chemical and physical nature of the Raman signal enhancement in non-metallic nanostructures. The expected outcomes of their research include better understanding of the structure-function relationships in semiconductors for new designs of advanced materials with improved functionalities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: COMMS, CIRCUITS & SENS SYS | Award Amount: 360.00K | Year: 2016

The emerging technology of wireless body-area networks promises to transform health care for millions of people whose daily lives are severely restricted by chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Advances in miniature sensors and wireless communications have opened the possibility for wearable, on-body sensors that remotely and continuously monitor physiological vital signs and transmit alerts to medical caregivers who can intervene in case of impending emergencies. A major hurdle is that the sensors antennas require relatively large amounts of electrical power to reliably transmit data over extended periods of time during regular daily life. More efficient, optimized antenna designs are needed so that sensor batteries can be small and long-lasting, thereby allowing sensors to be convenient and unobtrusive. To facilitate efficient on-body antenna designs, this project combines experimental and computer modeling methods to study and characterize how electromagnetic waves transmit over and around the moving human body. Insights from analysis of measurement and simulation data guide the design of reconfigurable, wearable antennas that facilitate efficient, on-body wireless communication for continuous, remote health monitoring.

The aim of this project is to study on-body electromagnetic wave propagations during human daily activities in order to guide the design of 3-D printed, reconfigurable, wearable antennas for unobtrusive, power-efficient, on-body wireless communications. Both measurement and simulation approaches are utilized in this project: i) three-dimensional body motions and complex electromagnetic transmission characteristics are simultaneously measured during common human activities for various on-body antenna configurations and in various environments; and ii) a three-dimensional modeling framework that reproduces experimental results and predicts wave transmission characteristics is established in electromagnetic simulation software. One key intellectual merit of this approach is relating on-body electromagnetic characteristics to body postures and antenna kinematics. Another key intellectual merit of the proposed work is designing and creating 3-D printed, electrically-small, reconfigurable, wearable antennas that couple radiation power into the dominant propagation mechanism. These advances will transform life-saving on-body communication technologies with applications that benefit patients, public safety officers, soldiers, and astronauts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: INSTRUMENTAT & INSTRUMENT DEVP | Award Amount: 684.79K | Year: 2015

An award is made to Baylor University to develop an ultrahigh spatial resolution mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) instrument. The potential impact of this research is far-reaching because no current technology is available to address the existing shortcomings in high spatial resolution MSI. The direct beneficiaries of this state-of-the-art technology will include students, researchers, and the society as a whole. This work is expected to open the door for a variety of technology transfer opportunities and potential industry collaborations with the university for mass production that will yield significant economic and societal benefits. Two qualified undergraduate students from underrepresented groups from Baylor outreach programs will be recruited to gain quality research experience. Moreover, two graduate students and a scientist will be trained in research activities and develop expertise in MSI to broaden their scientific knowledge. Research findings and presentations of all mentees in the project will be highlighted in annual Advanced Instrumentation Workshops that target undergraduate students and faculty mentors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-serving institutions in Texas and nearby states. Virtual scientific networks will be used to disseminate research findings and promote new collaborations. These NSF supported activities will be used to broaden underrepresented student group participation in future biological MSI research. This research will allow construction of a cutting-edge molecular imaging instrument that will be accessed by Baylor faculty and students and utilized for teaching advanced instrumentation classes and to promote inter-institution collaborations. Outcomes from this research will be disseminated through publications and conference presentations to boost broader use of the new ultrahigh spatial resolution MSI.

Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) provides information on surface morphology but also generates highly desired details about specific molecular identities of different sample components. In conventional MSI, a primary laser or desorption beam is rastered across a sample surface to desorb and subsequently analyze different components of biological tissues to construct three-dimensional images. Hence, the spatial resolution in MSI is limited by desorption beams dimensions (or laser footprint) and energy threshold required to desorb a sufficient number of substrate molecules from the surface for subsequent ionization and mass analysis. Moreover, low ionization efficiencies can severely limit both sensitivity and spatial resolution (typically to several microns) for characterization of cellular components. The purpose of this research is to provide novel analytical capabilities for highly specific and sensitive characterization of cell organelles at the molecular level. This project will create a new frontier in MSI by combining focused ion beam (FIB) neutral desorption with a newly discovered and highly efficient radio frequency ionization (RFI). Persistent challenges in subcellular MSI include achievement of adequate detection sensitivity, overcoming ionization bias, minimizing potential migration of substrate constituents during the analysis, and improving spatial resolution. Current MSI strategies typically address one of these challenges at the expense of another. To ameliorate current trade-offs in MSI, geometry of an RFI source will be optimized to ionize substantially larger portion of the desorbed neutral plume than currently possible. The unparalleled sensitivity of RFI is expected to reduce the primary beam power requirements for a liquid metal ion source (LMIS) to such an extent that imaging resolution in the x-y (surface) and z (depth) dimensions will support molecular level characterization. It will be possible to record 3D images and characterize cell structures and compositions to an unprecedented level of detail, with spatial resolutions an order of magnitude better than current MSI approaches.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: COMMS, CIRCUITS & SENS SYS | Award Amount: 132.42K | Year: 2016

1- Proposal Title: Proposal #1509746
Collaborative Research: A self-contained microfluidic optical cavity biosensing platform for multiplex label-free molecular diagnostics

2- Brief description of project Goals:
We aim to demonstrate a self-contained microfluidic optical cavity sensor which enables simple, cost-effective, label-free and highly sensitive biomarker screenings.

3- Abstract:

3a. Nontechnical:
Millions of people suffer from major chronic diseases such as cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, and infectious disease. To improve survival rates of patients and give the right treatment at the right time, early diagnosis of these diseases is required. The most common way to diagnose these diseases is to use a biochemical test that measures the presence or concentration of a macromolecule in a solution through the use of an antibody. The current gold standard biochemical test for detecting these biomarkers is called an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Such tests have significant limitations with respect to the required sample volume, total testing time, expensive fluorescence detection and an inability to test for many biomarkers simultaneously. A simpler and more cost effective approach is still needed to achieve a more efficient biochemical testing platform. In this research project, we will demonstrate a novel optical cavity biosensor, a sensor that detects the concentration of biomarkers with simple two partially reflecting mirror structure, integrated with a simple microfluidic device. This integrated device enables automated, low-cost, and highly sensitive sensing which is required for various molecular diagnostic fields. Such rapid, simple and cost effective label-free biosensors have the potential to transform the field of early disease screening and to make significant impact on various clinical and healthcare applications. In addition, a new bio-sample handling technique will be implemented to make overall testing procedures simple.
The education and outreach activity of this project is well-aligned with the research approach and outcomes. By educating undergraduate and graduate students through summer research experiences, new courses, and seminars, we will be able to deliver the state-of-art techniques related with micro/nanotechnologies. More specifically, by adapting the use of microfluidic system and optic sensors into new courses, we will enhance hands-on learning of microfabrication and semiconductor/microfluidic processes. For K-12 students, we will use this advanced biosensing tool for STEM education. Real demonstration of this work will be broadened through the development and distribution of educational activities on the optical physics and micro-flow phenomena.

3b. Technical:
A standard ELISA process includes a laborious and time-consuming sample preparation and labeling processes that involve complicated multi-step chemical reactions, expensive fluorescence and laser equipment to detect a labeled molecule. A simpler and cost effective approach is still needed to achieve a more efficient immunoassay platform. By developing optical cavity biosensor arrays, we will achieve the ultimate goal in biosensors which is a combination of label-free, low cost, high sensitivity, and high selectivity. In addition, adapting a differential detection method with multiple diode systems enables a multiplexing immunoassay, enhances the sensor`s sensitivity and increases the linear dynamic range. By integrating the optical cavity sensor with the self-contained microfluidic platform, we will design SMDx (self-contained multiplexable label-free diagnostics) to achieve a label-free, multiplexable microfluidic molecular diagnostic system. In this platform, various bioassay protocols can be implemented using pumpless technology. Furthermore, the SMDx platform can be readily extended to a portable system by incorporating a modular biosensing system for reliable medical diagnostics.

This project has multiple aims:
(1) Develop an affordable point-of-care biosensor using optical cavity structure enabling multiplexing bioassay with high sensitivity.
(2) Understand sensitivity enhancement by increasing the responsivity of the transducer through the differential detection method.
(3) Demonstrate a seamless microfluidic device containing passive flow control with channel surface properties and wicking force.
(4) Implement a self-contained multiplex label-free diagnostics (SMDx) platform for cardiac panel screenings.

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