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Rensselaer Research Review
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Innovation at Rensselaer: Space

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Rensselaer’s online research magazine.
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Biotechnology and the Life Sciences Energy, Environment, and Smart Systems
** Biotechnology and the Life Sciences

Rensselaer’s biotechnology initiative stands at the intersection of the life sciences, the physical and computer sciences, and engineering.

Our growing cadre of interdisciplinary biotechnology researchers, supported by the world-class infrastructure in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and an increasing level of federal and state funding, are making major discoveries at the intersection of engineering, technology, and the life sciences.

Biotechnology research at Rensselaer benefits from the expertise of biologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers, who are working within — and across — their disciplines to explore potentially life-saving advances.

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* Rensselaer Research
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* Serendipity and the Paper Battery *
Serendipity and the Paper Battery
If it’s true that chance favors the prepared mind, then Rensselaer students are indeed prepared to change the world. It was a student’s insightful comment that led to the creation of an energy storage device on a paper-thin piece of material made from cellulose and carbon nanotubes.
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* Creating an Artificial Golgi *
Creating an Artificial Golgi
Researchers at Rensselaer are engineering an artificial Golgi, an organelle in cells that is involved in the biosynthesis of proteins. The NSF-supported project has two major goals—gaining fundamental understanding of the complex process of glycosylation and developing the ability to synthesize improved pharmaceutical agents based on this process.
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* Georges Belfort *
Self-Splicing Proteins
Borrowing an idea from bacteria, Georges Belfort and his bioseparations group are trying to engineer a novel synthetic pathway with a molecular switch. In the long term, the pathway could be used to produce complex biological molecules and make medicines targeted to act on specific cell types in the body.
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* HIV Peptides Possible Pathway Into Cells *
HIV Peptides Possible Pathway Into Cells
By analyzing two years of biocomputation and simulation, theoretical physicists at Rensselaer have uncovered what they believe is the long-sought-after pathway that an HIV peptide uses to enter healthy cells. Their discovery could help scientists treat other human illnesses by exploiting the same molecules that make HIV so deadly.
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* Two Roads to the Same Destination *
Two Roads to the Same Destination
George Plopper leads a team that is trying to understand the complex pathway that causes adult stem cells to form bone instead of cartilage or fat. The long-term goal of the NIH-funded research is to learn how to transfer stem cells into sites of bone injury under optimal conditions that will cause them to reproduce rapidly and greatly speed bone healing.
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* Modeling Molecules *
Modeling Molecules
Just as powerful new computers and computing techniques are helping scientists reach insights in biology through the field known as bioinformatics, a multidisciplinary group of researchers has begun laying the foundations for “cheminformatics” by applying those tools to chemistry.
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* VIP Man *
VIP Man
George Xu, professor of nuclear and biomedical engineering, leads an interdisciplinary, NIH-funded team that is developing 3-D virtual patient models for the computation of radiation doses in imaging and in treatment of cancer patients. The result is enabling safer, more accurate, and more effective radiation therapy and nuclear medicine imaging.
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Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies
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Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies
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The center ranks among the world’s most advanced facilities focused on the application of engineering and the physical and information sciences to the life sciences.
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Wilfredo Colon and Christopher Bystroff
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Unraveling Proteins
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Wilfredo Colón and Christopher Bystroff make a formidable research team, bringing together their individual expertise in biochemical techniques and computer modeling to better understand why proteins sometimes become trapped in a specific structure — knowledge that could lead to early detection for diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Alzheimer’s.
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Ravi S. Kane
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Destroying Anthrax Toxin and Other Harmful Proteins
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Researchers at Rensselaer have developed a new way to seek out specific proteins, including dangerous proteins such as anthrax toxin, and render them harmless using nothing but light.
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The technique lends itself to the creation of new antibacterial and antimicrobial films to help curb the spread of germs, and also holds promise for new methods of seeking out and killing tumors in the human body.
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