SRNL and GHSU forging ties

The development of Porous Walled Hollow Glass Microspheres earned the Savannah River National Laboratory a 2011 R&D 100 award.

Scientists on both sides of the Savannah River are finding common ground in technology and medicine. Georgia Health Sciences University and Savannah River National Laboratory are working on creating joint projects that can take advantage of the lab’s technical skills and the university’s clinical expertise.

GHSU recently committed $100,000 to the intramural projects with the national lab in focusing on three main areas: materials and mechanics, delivery technology and radiation effects on biological systems, said Dr. Mark Hamrick, the senior vice president for research at GHSU.

In radiation, the university already has scientists focused on DNA damage and repair who could benefit from expertise at the lab’s National Center for Radioecology, he said.

“That makes obvious sense given the interest in cancer here and the fact that they have a nationally recognized radioecology center as well,” Hamrick said.

From the national lab’s point of view, it can be finding ways to apply cutting-edge technology it is already developing, said Steve Wach, the manager of research and technology partnerships at SRNL.

For example, the lab received a 2011 R&D 100 award for creating one of the top technologically significant products in its Porous Walled Hollow Glass Microspheres. The tiny glass spheres can be used to deliver small precise amounts of products and one of the partners in its development was GHSU.

“This technology is useful in a variety of fields, one of which is medical,” Wach said. “It releases at the right time and place.”

The two organizations have collaborated in past projects, using the lab’s powerful imaging technology in looking at the structure of bone that helped lead to the awarding of a large grant to GHSU, he said.

“There’s lots of energy and creativity and I think this has the potential to be a very good thing all the way around,” Wach said.

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