NSF Awards More Than $400,000 for Research to Mercer Engineering


MACON – The National Science Foundation recently awarded more than $400,000 to Mercer University’s Dr. Sinjae Hyun, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, to help create more effective inhalation drug delivery systems. Dr. Hyun won two grants, one for $79,500 for equipment, and the other for $324,012, with a collaborator from North Carolina State University, to research particle uptake in human lung models.

“This is a huge step for Mercer Engineering and speaks highly of Dr. Hyun’s reputation in his field of biomedical engineering,” said Dr. Wade H. Shaw, dean of the School of Engineering and Kaolin Chair of Engineering. “The NSF is a premier sponsor of engineering research and this grant is an affirmation not only of Dr. Hyun but also of Mercer University.  The grant review panels at the national level are very aware of both the people and capabilities of the universities who receive their support and this grant is additional confirmation that we are doing the right kinds of things to build our program.”

Dr. Hyun’s research for inhaled aerosol transport and deposition in lung airways received a major boost from the grants he received, and comes on the heels of another gift to his lab of a three-dimensional printer from YKK USA Inc., which will be used to construct the models.

The NSF awarded the $79,500 grant to Dr. Hyun to purchase a Wide Range Particle Spectrometer, which will allow him to accurately measure the particulates in his inhalation experiments to between five nanometers (five billionths of a meter) to 10 microns (10 millionths of a meter). The accurate measurements will give his research and that of the students in his lab the ability to produce research that is applicable to measuring the accurate delivery of inhaled aerosols.

The second grant for Dr. Hyun’s research helps to fund Dr. Hyun’s experimental studies of the aforementioned accurate particle measurements and will be integrated with the computational research his collaborator, Dr. Clement Kleinstreuer, will be developing at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The NSF awarded $324,012 for their three-year collaborative research project.

Such research, according to Dr. Hyun, will help create more effective inhalation drug delivery systems, such as those used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as those on the horizon, such as inhaled insulin to treat diabetes.

“If we can accurately predict the amount of inhaled aerosol particles that is taken into the lungs, we can use medicine more efficiently and control dosages,” Dr. Hyun said. “This research will benefit both the patients and the pharmaceutical companies.”

As part of the grant, Dr. Hyun will have to report back on his findings each year. The experiments will also help to create research projects that both he and his students will be able to present at national conferences, and his research may also lead to future NSF grants.

“I’ve already had more requests from students to join my lab,” Dr. Hyun said. “I would like engineering research to be more visible on campus and hope that the grants and gift will have a positive impact on my research with students.”

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah – and four regional academic centers across the state. The Mercer Health Sciences Center launched July 1, 2012, and includes the University’s medical, nursing and pharmacy schools and will add a fourth college – the College of Health Professions – on July 1, 2013. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. www.mercer.edu
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