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Rice's CNST awards Smalley/Curl funds for innovation

HOUSTON, Feb. 7, 2005 Rice University's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) today awarded its first grants from the Smalley/Curl Fund for Innovation to faculty members Michael S. Wong, Rebekah Drezek and Jason Hafner.

The one-year, $15,000 grants are designed to provide faculty with the seed funds they need to develop novel ideas that have the potential of impacting all areas of nanotechnology.

CNST's innovation fund was established in 2003 in honor of Richard Smalley, University Professor, the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry and professor of physics; and Robert Curl, University Professor, the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences and professor of chemistry. Professors Smalley and Curl won the 1996 Noble Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of fullerenes, the third major form of carbon after diamond and graphite.

"Seed funding is absolutely pivotal in generating the preliminary data required to secure large federal grants," said Drezek, the Stanley C. Moore Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Jason Hafner and I tremendously appreciate the support provided by the Smalley/Curl Fund for Innovation in helping us get our new project off the ground."

Jason Hafner, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and assistant professor of chemistry, and Drezek are studying the synthesis, functionalization, and optical properties of gold nanorods so that they may be used in biomedical applications. They aim to develop bright, biocompatible contrast agents that can "light up" cells that are expressing specific molecular markers indicative of early precancerous changes. With the seed money from the Smalley/Curl Fund for Innovation, Drezek and Hafner will evaluate targeted nanorods as molecular probes for reflectance confocal microscopy and optical coherence tomography--two real-time, high-resolution optical imaging techniques
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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
7-Feb-2005


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