Wednesday, March 26, 2008

UNLV Co-Sponsors Science Bowls for High School & Middle School Students

UNLV’s Office of Strategic Energy Programs (OSEP) will be a co-organizer and co-sponsor for this year’s National Science Bowl Event for Middle Schools in Las Vegas, on April 4 and 5, 2008. OSEP is involved in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge. Nate Tannenbaum and Jeff Gordon will be hosting the event and the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Race.

The following schools will participate (some schools have more than 1 team taking part): Faith Lutheran, Las Vegas Day School, Hyde Park Middle School, Bob Miller Middle School, Cortney Middle School, Garrett Middle School, Keller Middle School,Grant Sawyer Middle School, Coral Academy of Science. For more information: Middle School Science Bowl

High school students competed in the Nevada Regional Science Bowl on February 8-9, 2008. Thirty-two teams from high schools in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah competed in the seventeenth Annual Nevada Regional Science Bowl, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Las Vegas schools that competed are: Advanced Technologies Academy, Bonanza High School (2 teams), Centennial High School, Cheyenne High School (2 teams), Clark High School (2 teams), Faith Lutheran High School (2 teams), Legacy High School, Palo Verde High School, Shadow Ridge High School, The Meadows High School, Valley High School (2 teams). Boulder City High School will also have a team in the tournament. And a team from Henderson's, Coronado High School will compete as well.

A team from The Meadows School in Las Vegas came in first, Palo Verde High School of Las Vegas placed second, followed by Coronado High School of Henderson. More than 30 schools in four states competed in the 17th Annual Nevada Regional Science Bowl.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

David Lee, PhD to Discuss Biomechanics in Robotic Locomotion

David Lee, PhD, College of Sciences at UNLV will be discussing biomechanics in robotic locomotion in a talk titled, “Bio-Robotics” on April 9th, 2008 at the UNLV Foundation Room at 12 PM at the Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium luncheon. The public is welcomed. Dr. Lee has been studying the mechanical principles of legs and joints in animals. His work has contributed to the mechanical design and control of BigDog, the world's most advanced, four legged robot built by Boston Dynamics. The video of the four legged mechanical robot has become one of the most-watch videos on the internet.

It was his research in comparative biomechanics of running, jumping, and climbing in legged animals, primarily in quadrupeds but also in bipedal birds and humans that helped the designers of BigDog. Comparative biomechanics can show the complex dynamics that underlay animal movement in terrestrial environments.

The musculoskeletal mechanics that make animal movement possible are described by high-speed motion capture or high-speed x-ray imaging during locomotion. These force (kinetic) and movement (kinematic) data are combined to describe the dynamics of locomotion.

Dr. Lee reports, “As legged walkers and runners ourselves, the underlying dynamics are often taken for granted - yet the achievement of dynamic stability in legged robots on a smooth floor, let alone in real-world environments, has proven a formidable engineering challenge. We model the action of muscle-tendon system(s) about a given joint as a serial actuator and spring. By this technique, the experimental joint moment is imposed while the combined angular deflection of the actuator and spring are constrained to match the experimental joint angle throughout the stance duration. The same technique is applied to the radial leg (i.e., shoulder/hip-to-foot). The spring constant that minimizes total actuator work is considered optimal…” Watching the video of BigDog, one can see the complexity of a walking robot.

Dr. Lee is also interested in relating leg and joint mechanics to muscle function as a promising approach to understanding joint dysfunction in osteoarthritis. He will be speaking April 9,2008 at the next meeting of the Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium at UNLV campus. For more information or to RSVP, you can eamil or call Judy Rebholz at 702-839-7222.

UNLV Researcher’s Work Part of World’s Most Advanced Quadruped Robot

UNLV Assistant Professor, Dr. David Lee's research on comparative biomechanics of animal movements has contributed to the mechanical design and control of BigDog, the world's most advanced, four legged robot.

Boston Dynamics was the leader of a team of companies that won the bid for a $10 million grant to build a biologically inspired, multifunctional, dynamic robot which became BigDog.

In 2006 Boston Dynamics first released video of BigDog which shows a four-legged mechanical monster that can negotiate icy terrain, leap like a deer and keep its balance when kicked.

The video has become one of the most-watched on the internet; the headless BigDog picks its way across a pile of bricks, runs through snow and executes a series of nimble jumps

In 2008 Boston Dynamics has released new footage of a newer version of the BigDog which shows even more improvements. It has been viewed over 1 million times.

Dr Sam Cubero, a lecturer in robotics at the University of Southern Queensland, said that BigDog was "pretty hi-tech." Cubero went on to say, "The robot knows how to stay upright or stable because of its plethora of onboard sensors like tilt sensors, rate sensors, position sensors for each joint and foot sensors."

It is an impressive video to watch. Here is the link:

1. “BigDog Delivers on Robotic Promise.” National Nines News. (ninemsn). Tuesday Shaun Davies. March 18, 2008


3. “Compliance, Actuation, and Work Characteristics of the Goat Foreleg and Hindleg During Level, Uphill, and Downhill Running. “ David V. Lee, M. Polly McGuigan, Edwin H. Yoo and Andrew A. Biewener. Journal of Applied Physiology. October 18, 2007.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nevada Cancer Institute Researcher has Drug Accepted for Human Trials

Dr. Nam Hoang Dang, the Chief of Hematological Malignancies at Nevada Cancer Institute, learned that his drug, which is an antibody to CD26, was accepted by the FDA for Phase1 Human trials. The drug is a humanized monoclonal antibody which targets solid tumors and hematological cancers. During Dang’s 20 years of research, he discovered a molecule called CD26 that plays a crucial role in the development of certain cancers. He then worked on developing its antibody. He told the Las Vegas Sun that the drug has been effective in the lab and in animal tests for a variety of cancers, including kidney cancer; mesophelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly caused by asbestos; and T-cell lymphoma, a rare blood cancer.

Dang pioneered the study of CD26 over twenty years ago when he was pursuing his Ph.D. and M.D. at Harvard University. Dang was the first researcher to target CD26 to fight cancer. Dang continued his work at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he filed his patent in May 2002, “Anti-CD26 monoclonal antibodies as therapy for diseases associated with cells expressing CD26.” The patent was issued on April 3, 2007.

In 2003 he partnered with Dr. Chikao Morimoto, a researcher in Tokyo, to start a Japan-based pharmaceutical company, Y’s Therapeutics, which has raised the investment capital to help bring the drug to market.

Dang hopes that the Phase I trials will take place at Nevada Cancer Institute. The Phase I clinical trials should start in April 2008 and the results of the trial are expected to be completed in March 2010.

Sandra Murdoch, President of the Nevada Cancer Institute, told the Las Vegas Sun that Dang’s work is a “major breakthrough” which she hopes will help attract more world-class researchers. The institute has 27 researchers on its faculty, but hopes to have 80 within five years.

Dang immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with his family as a 12-year boy in 1975 and learned to speak English while listening to sports talk radio. After spending time in refugee camps off the coast of California, he and his family moved to Dallas, Texas with the support of a church located in Highland Park. He graduated as Valedictorian from Highland Park High School and went to Harvard University and Harvard Medical School, where he graduated with top honors, earning his B.A. (magna cum laude), M.D. (magna cum laude), and Ph.D. degrees. He continued his medical education in the Harvard system with residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital, and fellowship training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, becoming board-certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. In 2005 he became the Chief of the Department of Hematologic Malignancies at the Nevada Cancer Institute and also in
2008, he became a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

1. “Las Vegas Doctor’s Cancer Drug Accepted for Human Testing.” Marshall Allen. The Las Vegas Sun. February 22, 2008.

2. “Y's Therapeutics Announces FDA Acceptance of IND to Conduct Phase I Clinical Trial for YSCMA in the USA.” Company Press Release. February 13, 2008.

3. “Anti-CD26 Monoclonal Antibodies as Therapy for Diseases Associated With Cells Expressing CD26.” United States Patent # 7198788.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

NevBio Meeting-Dr.Brian Hedlund-March 13th-Thursday

“How Research on Thermophillic Microbes in the Great Basin Hot Springs has Biomedical Applications.”

SPEAKER: Brian Hedlund, Ph.D.; UNLV College of Sciences
DATE: March 13, Thursday
TIME: 11:30 am Check-in/Networking 12 PM Lunch & Program
PLACE: UNLV Foundation 4505 S. Maryland Parkway
COST: $20 (Pay at the door, credit cards, cash, checks accepted)
R.S.V.P. Judith Lynn Rebholz 839-7201 or


Photosynthesis does not occur in geothermal systems above ~73ÂșC, so energy for primary production within these systems must come from chemolithotrophy. Although it has been asserted that H2 is the most important reductant for these ecosystems, this has yet to be experimentally determined. Furthermore, 16S rRNA gene libraries from many hot springs in the Great Basin are dominated by unknown groups of Archaea and Bacteria. Therefore, the important energy conserving metabolisms in these ecosystems are unknown.

2008 Nevada Biotech Awards Luncheon at the Wynn Hotel. February 18th, 2008.
From Left to Right: Senator Reid, John Laub & Glenn Christenson.
Next picture: Daniel Montano, Amy Gordon, Senator Reid, John Laub & Dr. William Li.
John Laub, Senator Harry Reid & Steven Zak, Nevada Biotechnology & Bioscience Consortium

2008 Nevada Biotech Awards Luncheon at the Wynn Hotel, February 18th, 2008. From left to right, Judith Rebholz, John Laub, Senator Harry Reid, UNLV President David Ashley, Linda Rubinson and Dean of the College of Sciences, Dr. Ron Yasbin.