Note to Reporters: Photos of Melissa Reynolds are available with the news release at http://www.news.colostate.edu.
The Colorado Bioscience Association on Thursday night recognized Melissa Reynolds, assistant chemistry professor at Colorado State University, as Educator of the Year.
Reynolds was honored along with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, state Rep. Cheri Gerou and Ernst & Young, among others.This is her second major award in the past year. In 2010, the Boettcher Foundation named Reynolds as one of only six inaugural Boettcher Investigators as part of the Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Program, which helps recruit, retain and advance scientific talent in Colorado. She was the only one from Colorado State named that year.
The Colorado Bioscience Association acknowledged Reynolds, a 2010 Boettcher Investigator, with this most recent honor because “in addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, she has organized professional development and entrepreneurship programs and mentored over 25 multidisciplinary students. Her positive leadership and encouragement has been continually evident to her colleagues, funders and the bioscience community as a whole.”
“Dr. Reynolds has been honored with this prestigious award from the Colorado Bioscience Association because she easily relates her experience in industry and in the laboratory to her students,” said Rick Miranda, provost for Colorado State. “The generous recognition from the bioscience community and the Boettcher Foundation helps her continue important research in her laboratory.”
She has also been the recipient of state’s Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grants, which are intended to accelerate commercialization of new discoveries and support new business development in bioscience and biofuels.
Reynolds has developed a biodegradable polymer with healing properties – essentially a soft plastic – that could be used inside or outside the human body. The material contains nitric oxide, which is a naturally occurring substance within the body that can prevent infection while also promoting healthy cell growth. She is in the middle of a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the Department of Defense to develop an artificial, wound-healing material for battlefield injuries.
Reynolds’ team is in the early stages of developing a prototype but, eventually, the material will look like gauze in a first-aid kit. This gauze, however, will have additional biological materials to help heal more effectively.
The material could be used on deep cuts inside the skin and muscles to prevent infection and bleeding and help the cells start to grow back in a healthy way. Eventually, the material dissolves into the body.
The wound-healing properties of this polymer would be particularly useful for the military or in natural disasters. In the case of the devastating events in Haiti, for example, there were a number of cases of injury and infection. These materials could be dropped from a plane as the first line of defense in treating injuries that tend to cause long-term problems.
Reynolds’ new material could be used to coat medical devices such as stents, orthopedic implants, patches and sutures, and help the devices do what they’re designed to do: provide medical treatments without causing complications in the surrounding cells or tissues. In later years of the Department of Defense grant, Reynolds will work with E.J. Ehrhart and Simon Turner, professors in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, to test the product.
On behalf of Reynolds, Colorado State University Research Foundation filed a patent application and helped her form a company for accelerating the time-to-market for biocompatible coatings. The company, Diazamed, licensed the patent from CSURF and was created with the help of NeoTREX, the commercialization arm of the Cancer Supercluster at the university. NeoTREX is a division of CSU Ventures Inc., a non-profit corporation.