The College of Engineering has been awarded two grants by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Massachusetts’s primary agency for scientific development. The New Investigator Grant was awarded to Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE), and a New Faculty Startup Grant will support Associate Professor James Galagan (BME).
The grants are part of the MLSC’s Matching Grant Program, a $12 million initiative to fund current academic research and grow future research in Massachusetts. The new program, launched in February, focuses on attracting and retaining top academic scientific talent throughout the state.
According to the MLSC, the New Investigator Award “seeks to spur innovative new research and advance the careers of new investigators who are working on cutting-edge life sciences research at Massachusetts colleges, universities and affiliated research institutions.”
Altug’s research focuses on virus detection applications and developing new sensor technologies based on nanophotonics. She received the grant for her development of biosensing technologies that detect ultra-low quantities of biomolecules without using labeling methods.
Through nanophotonics, Altug hopes to detect low numbers of biomolecules to discover new biomarkers for various diseases, such as cancer, and to make portable virus detection platforms for homeland security. Her work can also be used to understand the behaviors and functions of single biomolecules.
“The MLSC grant will allow me to get a strong start towards my goal,” Altug said. “It will enable me to work on cutting-edge and high-impact systems, which can lead to larger grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation.”
The MLSC’s New Faculty Startup Grant was created to attract and retain nationally prominent faculty at Massachusetts’s colleges and universities. The grant covers a portion of startup and salary costs for new faculty.
Galagan recently joined the College from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, where he was associate director. His research sits at the intersection of systems biology and infectious disease, and he has joint appointments in BME and the Medical School.
“I’m extremely excited about the interdisciplinary opportunities at Boston University,” Galagan said. “My research is about bringing engineering and biology in the service of medicine. The activities and strengths here are just world class.”
Galagan believes the College of Engineering’s inclusion in initial MLSC grants is a strong indication of its reputation throughout Massachusetts.
“It acknowledges the strengths of BU and acknowledges we can do here in the Boston area by maintaining and keeping people here in Boston,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to keep faculty in the area and continue their research.”