Coastal Carolina University chemistry professor John Goodwin received two grants recently that will allow him and a group of his students to further their research into the design of surface materials for medical implants.
Their research, a collaborative project with University of South Carolina biochemistry professor John Dawson, focuses on finding chemical compounds that, when used to coat the surfaces of medical implants such as stints and catheters, react with human tissue in ways that prevent inflammation and cell damage.
"Inflamed tissue often contains reactive oxidant molecules such as peroxynitrate," says Goodwin. "We are experimenting with chemical compounds, including porphyrins, that decompose these molecules. The general importance of 'anti-oxidants' in our diets is well-known. They react with these reactive oxidant molecules and prevent damage to cells."
The research is being funded through a $45,000 grant from the Research Corporation through its Cottrell College Science Awards program and a $75,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health via the South Carolina INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) program.
According to Goodwin, one of the most important aspects of this project is that it gives Coastal undergraduate students the opportunity to do scientific research in an area that has significant contemporary relevance. "The project actually had its beginnings in 2004 as a student research project conducted by two students, Nicole Bradley and Sital Jethwa, in my advanced inorganic chemistry laboratory," said Goodwin.
Lindsay Smith, a senior chemistry major, presented research on the project at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Washington, D.C., in August. She and two other chemistry majors, Mike Sides and Nicole Honsaker, are scheduled to present their research at ACS's Southeast/Southwest Combined Regional Meeting in Memphis in November.