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Baxter Spotlights Work of Young Scientists


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ometimes the key to solving a complex health problem can be found in something as small as a note card. That’s what Abigail Weaver has been proving


through the design of a paper-based analytical tool that com- bines color-producing chemical reactions with paper to make an inexpensive, portable test for pharmaceuticals. These test cards are able to generate a “color bar code” that can quickly determine whether a sample is an authentic pharmaceutical or counterfeit. Testing takes only six minutes, requires no lab equipment, and to date her group has produced color bar codes for 40 different pharmaceutical ingredients. “Poor quality drugs tend to make their way into countries in turmoil, or in settings with loose regulations or limited resources, where challenges can include unreliable access to power and lack of trained personnel,” explained Weaver, a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame. “We feel that there are ways to bring chemical analysis out of the lab to meet real-world problems where they exist.” Weaver is one of six emerging scientists that Baxter


International recently recognized as recipients of the Baxter Young Investigator Award, created to stimulate and reward research applicable to the development of therapies and medical products that save and sustain patients’ lives. The awardees, who each receive a $2000 cash prize, were invited to Baxter’s Round Lake, IL, campus to present their research to Baxter scientists and executives and to be recognized at the awards ceremony. “Ms. Weaver was able to simplify the complex, develop applicable technologies that support an appropriate level of medical care throughout the global community, and use those technologies during her extensive fi eld testing in Kenya,” shared Dennis Jenke, one of Baxter’s Distinguished Scientists. “This accomplishment embodies Baxter’s own priorities and commitment to expanding access to care.” To select the award winners, Baxter evaluates candidates based on several criteria, including the quality of the research itself, whether the individual has published his or her work in a reputable journal as a fi rst named author, has scientifi c me- dia coverage commending the work, or has made signifi cant


strides in going beyond the confi nes of prior work of their research group by novel collaborations or introductions of new perspectives. Other winners presented on a diverse array of projects. Joo Kang, Harvard University, presented on an extracorpo- real blood-cleansing biospleen for sepsis therapy; Shudipto Dishari, Pennsylvania State University, focused her research on understanding virus retention behavior of virus fi ltration membranes; and Erkin Kuru, Indiana University, was rec- ognized for research into applying designer molecules to bacterial surfaces that enable them to become fl uorescent and more easily observed. Hang Ren, University of Michigan, presented on an electrochemical nitric oxide release system that improves hemocompatibility and reduces bacterial bio- fi lm formation on biomedical devices, addressing the issue of catheter-related bloodstream infections that can result in as many as 28,000 deaths and increased healthcare costs of up to $2.3 billion per year. Pratik Randeria, Northwestern Univer- sity, investigated how topically applied spherical nucleic acid (SNA)-gold nanoparticle conjugates can help increase wound healing in those with diabetes. In addition to the six fi rst-tier winners, 11 young scientists


were selected as second-tier winners and awarded $500 each. Their research also pertained to instrumental and ana- lytical sciences, life sciences, medical device engineering, or pharmaceutical sciences, with emphasis on the potential of the research to save and sustain lives. Through the recogni- tion program, Baxter hopes to help these up-and-coming researchers advance their projects and careers and continue down a path of scientifi c discovery that can ultimately lead to addressing important healthcare needs. “If we can identify, encourage and nurture promising young scientists early in their career, then we increase the likelihood that these high achievers will realize their full potential and pro- duce outcomes that are truly signifi cant for mankind and which improve the human condition,” said Jenke.


Edited by Yearbook Editor Michael Anderson from information provided by Baxter International Inc.


88 — Medical Manufacturing 2015


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