New Brunswick, N.J. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has Rutgers scientists looking to plants as a source of materials for cardiovascular stents, bone and tissue grafts, antiviral and antibacterial food packaging, and personal care products. The research will develop hybrid materials by combining naturally occurring plant substances, such as starch from corn or potatoes, with synthetic degradable polymer biomaterials.
This initiative can yield cost-effective, bio-based materials to replace petroleum-derived plastics while creating new economic opportunities for American farmers now threatened by low commodity prices.
The two-year project is supported by a $600,000 NSF Partnerships for Innovation program grant to the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials (NJCBM) based at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The project will be led by NJCBM Director Joachim Kohn and Assistant Research Professor Carmine Iovine, a new Rutgers faculty member.
This project takes inspiration from George Washington Carver, whose lifework produced products from peanut and soy crops that revolutionized the economy of the South, freeing it from dependence on cotton, Kohn said.
Iovine, recognized for his more than 40 years of industrial experience and expertise in biopolymer and synthetic polymer chemistry, came to Rutgers from New Jersey-based National Starch and Chemical Company, where he served as vice president for research and development of Nationals parent, the ICI Group.
The project team will include Professor Michael Pazzani, vice president for research and graduate and professional education; Assistant Professor Mikhail Chikindas and Research Professor Kit Yam of Rutgers Center for Advanced Food Technology (CAFT) and department of food science; Research Chemist LinShu Liu of the U.S. Department of Agricultures Eastern Regional Research Center; and NJCBM and CAFT industrial members.