Photo: Stergios Bibis

The University of Bridgeport has opened its first-ever Collaborative Biomedical Research Center (CBRC) to serve its growing research enterprise and foster a shared culture of research collaboration.  Housed on the second floor of the Charles A. Dana Hall of Science, the 4,000-square-foot facility is equipped with state-of-the-art shared research equipment and the necessary tools for studying and preserving valuable biological samples.

Ruba Deeb, Ph.D., UB director of biomedical research development, envisioned an interconnected group of laboratories to include a wet lab, dry lab, and sterile tissue culture for the special needs of various experiments while allowing for an open setting that “facilitates team science and the development of an interdisciplinary UB research identity that promotes team discovery” as she explains it. Tarek M. Sobh, PH.D., senior vice president for graduate studies and research and dean of the school of engineering; George Estrada, vice president for facilities; and Manyul Im, Ph.D., dean of the school of arts and sciences, approved the concept. Then, Deeb and Fred Ferraro, CBRC manager, went to work with UB’s executive director of facilities planning and operations and Antinozzi Associates to redesign a series of separate rooms in Dana Hall for this purpose.

Approximately 70 percent of the research conducted in CBRC occurs at the cellular and molecular level.  Research of this nature deals with the smallest and most basic structural and biochemical components of a living organism that can only be studied and visualized using specialized research equipment.  These types of studies allow for the identification of knowledge gaps or defects in biological processes causing disease or predisposing to disease.  An example includes the study of cell-cell communication mechanisms that control cell growth and alterations that lead to malignant transformations and metastasis.  Another example includes the design of novel drugs for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders as well as drug-delivery mechanisms that can bypass the tightly regulated blood-brain barrier.

The remaining 30 percent of CBRC research is materials science-based, a discipline that looks into material properties, how they influence structure, and contribute to the creation of new materials.  This also includes the field of nanotechnology, which enables us to tailor the structure of materials at billionth-of-a meter scale.  These type of studies have diverse applications that range from the creation of eco-friendly manufacturing processes to the design of drug-delivery systems that are compatible with human organ systems.

Ten UB faculty from the departments of undergraduate health sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, biomedical engineering, and technology management have been allocated space for active research projects and additional faculty will be able to share the facilities and its shared equipment. After successfully completing safety education, select undergraduate and graduate students are given access to the facility where Center faculty incorporate students into their specific projects and enculturate them to a robust biomedical research environment.

For more information on the Center, contact Dr. Ruba Deeb at rubadeeb@bridgeport.edu.

Contributed by Ruba Deeb and Christine Hempowicz