Kansas University leaders are looking for financial support for its initiatives in bioengineering, which could lead to new chemotherapy drug delivery mechanisms that would fight cancer, among other new research opportunities.
In the future, KU told the Kansas Bioscience Authority’s Board of Directors, KU would like to request funding from the authority for six new faculty members working in the area.
The presentation didn’t include an immediate request for the faculty members, or a specific dollar amount, but university officials indicated they would likely be back to request the money.
David Vranicar, interim president and CEO of the KBA, told KU officials that it would be helpful for the KBA if KU would prioritize its requests.
The university has presented several projects to the KBA and has received money in several different areas, including in its biorefining efforts, expansion requests for its Bioscience and Technology Business Center incubator facility, biomedical initiatives and requests in support of the KU Cancer Center.
"In the end, I suspect the KBA will have to make judgments on that," Vranicar said, adding that he would look to KU to help make those judgments. "We probably aren't nearly as smart about KU as you guys are."
Two KU professors helped describe the bioengineering initiative for the KBA.
Paulette Spencer, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering, told board members that the job market in the biomedical engineering field is expected to grow by 72 percent by 2018.
Parvesh Kumar, associate director of clinical research at the KU Cancer Center, described how a "smart nanoparticle" could carry a chemotherapy drug directly to cancerous cells and inject the drug directly into the cell itself. Today, chemotherapy is administered intravenously, he said, and kills a million normal cells for every cancer cell it kills, leading to significant side effects.
KU officials said they would like to request funds for four new professors on the Lawrence campus and two new professors at KU Medical Center, in addition to funds for construction or renovation of existing spaces to help with the initiative.
"We are always looking to skate to where the puck is going to be," said Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center. "I think that with this proposal, focused on nanoparticles, we're making an attempt to do just that."