Professor Nair hopes his specific drug-targeting research will change the whole concept of drug targeting to the brain and transform physicians’ efforts to treat not only HIV infection and neuro-AIDS but also various related diseases of the central nervous system and substance abuse addiction.

Recently, FIU convened Life Sciences South Florida, a work group comprised of educational, economic development and research institutions that will work to establish such a corridor in the region by fostering and promoting research, workforce development and marketing.

As the host of the Enterprise Development Corporation’s (EDC) conference, the university welcomed some 200 members of the industry and academia to hear about the latest on breakthrough research and commercialization activity currently underway in South Florida.

Among the FIU faculty who presented their groundbreaking research at the event was Madhavan Nair, chair and associate dean of the Department of Immunology at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM). Nair, who is also the director of the HWCOM Institute of Neuro-Immune Pharmacology, spoke about the NIH-funded research he has been conducting to develop a more effective system for the treatment for neuro-AIDS. He proposes the use of magnetic nanoparticles that cross the blood-brain barrier and allow for the guided and precise delivery of medicine to the brain.

Conference guests also heard from FIU researchers Wei-Chiang Lin and Anuradha Godavarty. The latter spoke about her pioneering hand-held optical imagery device, which will be used in the detection of diseases such as breast cancer.

Professor Godvarty explains how her hand-held optical device works and how it is capable of 3-D tumor detection.

Ranu Jung, the chair of FIU Biomedical Engineering, recognized the value of hosting the EDC on campus.

“It’s a good opportunity for our community to come together and tell one another what we have to offer,” said Jung, also the Wallace H. Coulter Eminent Scholars Chair of Biomedical Engineering at FIU. “In his keynote address, Dr. William Potter [the co-chair emeritus of the Neuroscience Steering Committee for the Foundation of National Institutes of Health] mentioned that the use of technology to find biomarkers is most important. Dr. Godavarty’s work in optical imagery is ripe for moving forward.

“As Dr. Potter mentioned, that’s the future, and our faculty are already working on the next generation of tech that will make a difference in all our lives. We are doing cutting-edge research at FIU and events like these help us network and spread the word to our peers.”

by Martin Haro