News & Events


Wearable Sweat Sensor Detects Gout-Causing Compounds


In a new paper published in Nature Biotechnology, Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, describes a mass-producible wearable sensor that can monitor levels of metabolites and nutrients in a person's blood by analyzing their sweat. Gao's sweat sensor is more sensitive than current devices and can detect sweat compounds of much lower concentrations, in addition to being easier to manufacture. "Considering that abnormal circulating nutrients and metabolites are related to a number of health conditions, the information collected from such wearable sensors will be invaluable for both research and medical treatment," Gao says. [Caltech story] [Read the paper]

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Professor Wei Gao Receives IEEE Sensors Council Award


Professor Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering has received the 2019 IEEE Sensors Council Award for his "pioneering work on wearable and flexible chemical sensors toward continuous and personalized health monitoring." [List of award recipients]

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Professor Julia R. Greer Named Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute


Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering, has been named the Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI). Greer replaces professors Oskar Painter and Nai-Chang Yeh, who served together as co-directors. "I am delighted to begin spearheading the wonderful enterprise of the KNI, humbly following the footsteps of my predecessors, professors Painter and Yeh. I have been a KNI member and on the board of directors since shortly after I arrived at Caltech," Greer says. [Caltech story]

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New Polymer Heart Valve Implanted in First Patient


Professor Morteza Gharib, has designed a new generation of heart valves that are longer-lasting, cost less to manufacture, and are more biocompatible than options that are currently available to patients. One of the new valves has been implanted into a human for the first time. "This is among my proudest moments. Creating something with the potential to save and improve lives is one of the reasons I became an engineer," Gharib says. [Caltech release]

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New Metamaterial Changes Shape in a Tunable Fashion


Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering, has developed a new type of architected metamaterial that has the ability to change shape in a tunable fashion. The material has potential applications in next-generation energy storage and bio-implantable micro-devices. [Caltech story]

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A Promising Step in Returning Bipedal Mobility


Professors Aaron Ames and Joel Burdick have launched a new research initiative, RoAMS (Robotic Assisted Mobility Science), aimed at restoring natural and stable locomotion to individuals with walking deficiencies that result from spinal cord injuries and strokes. RoAMS unites robotic assistive devices—including exoskeletons and prostheses—with artificial intelligence (AI)-infused neurocontrol. "Bipedal walking is difficult to achieve in a stable fashion," says Professor Ames. "While crutches help users of the exoskeletons to stay upright, they undercut many of the health benefits that upright locomotion might otherwise provide. In addition, they do not allow users to do anything else with their hands while walking." [Caltech story]

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Microrobots Activated by Laser Pulses Show Promise For Treating Tumors


MedE Professors Wei Gao and Lihong Wang are working on microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body. "These micromotors can penetrate the mucus of the digestive tract and stay there for a long time. This improves medicine delivery," Professor Gao says. "But because they're made of magnesium, they're biocompatible and biodegradable." [Caltech story]

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Professor Gharib Constructs Leonardo da Vinci's Model of Flow


Leonardo da Vinci studied the motion of blood in the human body. He was interested in the heart’s passive, three-cusp aortic valve, which he realized must be operated by the motion of blood. He theorized that vortices curl back to fill the cusps in the flask-shaped constriction at the aorta’s neck. Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering; Booth-Kresa Leadership Chair, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies; Director, Graduate Aerospace Laboratories; Director, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies, has used modern imaging techniques to demonstrate the existence of the revolving vortices that Leonardo interpreted as closing the valve. [Nature Article]

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Lasers Aim to Replace Scalpels in Cutting-Edge Biopsy Technique


Professor Lihong Wang and Postdoctoral Scholar Dr. Junhui Shi have developed a new imaging technique that uses pulses from two kinds of lasers to take pictures of microscopic biological structures. This new approach, called ultraviolet-localized mid-infrared photoacoustic microscopy, or ULM-PAM, develops images of the microscopic structures found in a piece of tissue by bombarding the sample with both infrared and ultraviolet laser light. "Because ultraviolet light and infrared have different properties, we had to find special mirrors and glass that could focus both," Dr. Shi says. "And because no camera exists that can see both, we had to develop ways to see if they were correctly focused." [Caltech story]

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Laser Technology Helps Researchers Scrutinize Cancer Cells


Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, and colleagues are using photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) to improve on an existing technology for measuring the oxygen-consumption rate (OCR). This new method allows the researchers to determine how oxygenated a sample of blood is by "listening" to the sound it makes when illuminated by the laser. Professor Wang calls this single-cell metabolic photoacoustic microscopy, or SCM-PAM. [Caltech story]

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