ORNL technologies win maximum Federal Laboratory Consortium awards


OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 6, 2005 -- Four technologies developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have earned Excellence in Technology Transfer Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer.

The technologies are the MicroCAT X-ray micro-computed tomography for biological research, the AquaSentinel real-time water supply protection monitoring biosensor system, the Photo-Molecular Comb biomolecular separator and the miniature californium-252 neutron source for cancer therapy.

The awards were presented during the consortium's national meeting in Orlando. The consortium is composed of 711 federal laboratories and facilities representing approximately 100,000 scientists and engineers. The awards recognize federal laboratory employees for outstanding work in the process of transferring a technology to the commercial marketplace.

Twenty-four awards were presented nationwide. For the third year in a row, ORNL is the only federal laboratory to be recognized with four awards, which is the maximum allowed to be submitted for consideration.

The MicroCat was honored last October as the project of the year by the southeastern region of the consortium. The technology enables mice and other small creatures to be screened for tumors and genetic study while they are still alive. The technology provides three-dimensional images of the subject being studied. The device saves time and money because biologists can quickly screen subjects individually for internal mutations without sacrificing and dissecting the animals, which can then be examined repeatedly. Cell research also can be conducted with this device.

The technology was developed by Shaun Gleason and Michael Paulus of ORNL's Engineering Science and Technology Division. The project is funded by DOE's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

Other ORNL members of the research team were Derek Austin, Miljko Bobrek, Gary Alley, Kenneth Tobin and Chris McKinney of the Engineering Science and Technology Division. Michael Licata of Philips Medical Systems of Bothell, Wash., was another member of the research team.

ORNL's AquaSentinel technology has been integrated by United Defense of York, Pa., under an exclusive license into a commercial first-alert water security system called WaterSentry. The system provides detection and early warnings of chemical contamination in primary-source water supplies. The system employs ORNL technology to continuously and automatically test for chemical toxins by measuring algal fluorescence.

DOE's Basic Energy Sciences program funded the basic research on photochemistry before the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funded the initial application as biosensors. Development of WaterSentry and the integration of ORNL's AquaSentinel technology was funded by United Defense through DOE's Work for Others program.

ORNL researchers involved with this project were Elias Greenbaum, Miguel Rodriguez and Charlene Sanders of the Chemical Sciences Division, David E. Hill of the Metals and Ceramics Division, Richard L. Stouder of the National Security Directorate and Mark Reeves of the Technology Transfer and Economic Development Directorate. Also working on the project was John D. Harrell of ORNL's Facilities and Operations Directorate and Steven McCarter of United Defense.

The Photo-Molecular Comb technology uses a light-induced charge on a semiconductor liquid interface to transport biological molecules on the surface of a microchip, illuminating the semiconductor with a low-cost light source. This movement results in fast and accurate biomolecular separations with unprecedented versatility.

The project is a joint effort with Protein Discovery of Knoxville, Tenn., along with funding from DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research. ORNL researchers working on this project were Thomas Thundat and Thomas Ferrell of the Life Sciences Division, Gilbert Brown of the Chemical Sciences Division, Robert Warmack of the Engineering Science and Technology Division and Russ Miller of the Technology Transfer and Economic Development Directorate. Protein Discovery researchers involved were Charles Witkowski, Jay Harkins, Dean Hafeman and Kilin Dill.

The miniature californium-252 neutron source for cancer therapy will enable physicians to insert a tiny radiation source through a catheter, delivering high-intensity neutron radiation directly to a tumor site with more impact than that of existing technology. Isotron, of Norcross, Ga., funded the research through a cooperative research and development agreement.

ORNL staff members participating in this project with Manfred Sandler of Isotron were Rodger Martin of the Metals and Ceramics Division, Ian Gross of the Nuclear Science and Technology Division, Larry Pierce of the Facilities and Operations Directorate, and Mark Reeves and Russ Miller of the Technology Transfer and Economic Development Directorate.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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