Note to Reporters: A photo of Melissa Reynolds is available with the news release at http://www.news.colostate.edu/.
The Boettcher Foundation on Wednesday named Colorado State University chemist Melissa Reynolds one of only six 2010 Boettcher Investigators as part of the Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Program, which helps recruit, retain and advance scientific talent in Colorado.
Reynolds is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the chemistry department and the School of Biomedical Engineering. Reynolds is developing biocompatible coatings for medical devices that would create a natural and safe approach to healing by allowing implanted materials to be left in the body longer without rejection.
Reynolds is the only researcher from Colorado State University to receive the honor, which comes with a three-year, $200,000 grant. She joins researchers from the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health and the Colorado School of Mines in the inaugural class of Boettcher Investigators.
“We are grateful to the Boettcher Foundation and the Webb-Waring Foundation for this prestigious award and providing Dr. Reynolds’ opportunities to, in the early part of her career, continue to advance her research,” said Colorado State University President Tony Frank. “Research benefiting human health has paramount importance for our society, and CSU is committed to supporting the exploration that can yield innovation to advance and improve medical treatments. We are extremely proud to have Dr. Reynolds as a member of our distinguished research faculty.”
Reynolds is developing materials in her chemistry laboratory that contain nitric oxide – a gas that is a helpful, naturally occurring substance within the human body despite its reputation for negative effects on the physical environment.
Within the body, nitric oxide is needed to prevent blood from clotting on itself. Additionally, Reynolds said, it can help kill cancer cells while also promoting healthy cell growth. Her materials can be used to coat medical devices such as stents, vascular grafts, and heart valves and help the devices do what they’re supposed to do: provide medical treatments without causing complications in the surrounding cells or tissues.
Currently, many medical implants need frequent replacement or face rejection because the materials used to make the devices – such as metals and plastics – aren’t compatible with the human body.
“Boettcher’s support of this research is exciting because it is cutting edge and this Early-Career Investigator award could really accelerate Dr. Reynolds’ research career,” said Bill Farland, vice president for Research at Colorado State. “Dr. Reynolds and the chemistry department at Colorado State are known for their innovative research, and our undergraduate and graduate students benefit from learning from such top-notch scientists.”
The American Heart Association has reported that cardiovascular disease is a primary reason health-care costs nationally are expected to reach $503 billion in 2010. Developing safer and more effective medical implants is one solution to reducing those costs and improving patient care, Reynolds said.
Reynolds has filed a patent application and formed a company for accelerating the time to market for biocompatible coatings. However, more research is needed to look at how nitric oxide reacts with certain cell types and to determine the appropriate dosages needed to prolong the longevity of medical devices. The company, Diazamed, holds an option to license the patent application and was created with the help of the Colorado State University Research Foundation and NeoTREX, the commercialization arm of the Cancer Supercluster at the university. The goal of NeoTREX is to translate research discoveries into products that aid in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. NeoTREX is a division of CSU Ventures, Inc., a non-profit corporation.
Reynolds has also received a grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as part of the state’s effort to increase the research and development of new bioscience technology in Colorado’s research institutions and to accelerate commercialization of new discoveries.
About the Boettcher Foundation
For more than 70 years, the Boettcher Foundation has served the people of Colorado by investing in young minds through its Scholarship Program and helping to build community infrastructure through capital grant making. In virtually every community throughout the state, the Foundation has partnered with outstanding nonprofits to make a difference in people’s lives. The Foundation believes that this is what the Boettcher family intended when they gave their wealth to establish the Foundation for the benefit of the citizens of Colorado. For more information, visit http://www.boettcherfoundation.org.
About the Department of Chemistry at Colorado State
U.S. News and World Report this spring named the graduate program in the chemistry department (College of Natural Sciences) one of the top 50 programs in the country. The ranking was included in the 2011 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools. The chemistry department is a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence at Colorado State. Doctoral programs are available analytical, inorganic, organic, physical, and materials chemistry as well as chemistry education. Interdisciplinary programs of study that cross traditional boundaries are encouraged, and many faculty members have joint appointments in engineering and life sciences departments across campus. The department’s total grant expenditures exceed $7 million annually.
About the School of Biomedical Engineering at Colorado State
CSU’s School of Biomedical Engineering includes more than 50 faculty members in four colleges: the College of Applied Human Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The school offered the first doctoral degree in bioengineering in the state in 2007. The program trains students in the development of innovative products to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and also to help improve overall health and patient rehabilitation.