Seven TMU teachers won the 2020 MOST Columbus and Einstein Grants, totaling a grant of NTD 144 million

Source: Taipei Medical University

Published on 2020-07-27

Assistant Professor Yu-Jui Fan, Assistant Professor Wen-Yu Chia, Associate Professor Jian-Ying Chuang, Senior Research Fellow Chin-An Wang, Assistant Professor Po-Kang Yang, Assistant Professor Malissa Kay Shaw, and Assistant Professor David J. Lundy received the 2020 MOST Columbus and Einstein Grants, totaling a grant of NTD 144 million.

 Did you know?

The MOST Grant for the Columbus Program is a subsidy program created to expand international perspectives and influence by encouraging young academics to explore the unknown, gain a broader international outlook, pursue excellence and encourage long-term investment in important innovative concepts while visiting overseas institutes to carry out research and exchange, and setting up groups for international collaboration. The MOST Grant for the Einstein Program is a subsidy program for scientists and researchers below 35 years of age, encouraging daring and innovation crossing scientific boundaries.
  • TMU Columbus Program awardees

Assistant Professor Yu-Jui Fan, College of Biomedical Engineering

Research Project: “Development of Microfluidic-Based Mitochondrial Delivering System for Therapy of Suspending Stem Cell”

Professor Fan’s research expertise is the development of microfluidic biochips in biosensors, liquid biopsy, cell manipulation, cell dynamic culture and Organ-on-a-Chip system development. His past series of research outcomes on the development of biomedical sensor systems and high-efficiency flow cytometer have been published in many internationally renowned journals and granted patents. He has also won the National Innovation Award and numerous awards in international academic conferences.

In this research project, Professor Fan is designing stem cell culture systems using bio-microelectromechanical and microfluidic systems. He will also develop high-performance cell capture technology and high-performance image flow cytometer. He will be collaborating with the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) to include high-performance mitochondrial transmission technology for mitochondrial treatment of stem cells and post-treatment analysis. At the same time, he will collaborate internationally with Franche-Comté Électronique Mécanique Thermique et Optique-Sciences et Technologies (FEMTO-ST) to study the relationship between stem cell extracellular vesicles and mitochondrial therapy.

Integrating electronics, electrical engineering, materials, regenerative medicine and clinical resources and talents, this research will adopt more innovative and cross-domain integration to achieve a more clinical and effective stem cell therapy.

Assistant Professor Wen-Yu Chia, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Project: “Technology & Distrust: a Study on Biomed Research & Development Models and Legal Framework”

Professor Chia’s research field focuses on Legal Realism and Interdisciplinary Study of Law, particularly the multi-faceted interweaving of legal systems and social reality, and the normative significance of the interaction between law and other knowledge fields at the methodological level.  This research project is based on the research achievements of the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) school, which believes that each stage of science and technology development has a close interactive relationship with its social context. The paradigm of contemporary scientific and technological development relies on the operations of a specialized scientific community, which poses a high threshold for the average person. As such, knowledge has become a kind of power, resulting in problems such as misunderstanding, abuse and “trust.”

Biomedicine, medical care and public health policies coupled with general human willingness to pursue “health” have made the development of biomedical technology very relevant to all. With the integration of information and scientific methods in biomedical technology development and big data (genetic research, precision medicine), the general public can now more directly or indirectly, actively or passively (or compelled to) participate in the early stages of biomedical technology research and development.

Since health is a universal human pursuit, the biological body and information of humans are regarded as the basic components of personhood and dignity, and are scrutinized by social norms (ethics, morality and the rule of law). However, R&D in biomedical technology is both an academic liberty as well as highly intense capitalization and commercialization, thereby increasing the complexity of interaction. The aforementioned distrust is thus magnified by the broad, deep and complicated interaction, and reflects deeper social structure.

Based on ‘confrontational’, ‘sharing,’ and ‘consociational’ models, this research aims to analyze the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of different institutional solutions from the perspectives of ‘scientific democratization’, rule of law, and social institutionalization. The research seeks to address biomedical technology, structural distrust arising from the development of contemporary science and technology, and provide institutional recommendations.

Associate Professor Jian-Ying Chuang, College of Medical Science and Technology

Research Project: “Investigating Nerve Regeneration Following Traumatic Brain Injury”

Professor Chuang’s research expertise is in neuromolecular medicine, including signal transduction, gene regulation and oxidative stress. He is committed to exploring the mechanism of post brain injury neuroprotection and regeneration, and treatment related research and development.

Brain injury is one of the main causes of adult disability and death. It not only includes the immediate destruction of brain structure caused by the impact, but also subsequent continuous reactions such as ischemia, inflammation and cerebral edema. These delayed traumas, or secondary injuries, can cause further and more serious nerve damage, resulting in long-term neurological deficits in patients. Therefore, slowing down continued deterioration in injured brain areas and inducing nerve regeneration are very important issues.

In his previous research collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health, Professor Chuang found that neurosteroids can increase the survival rate of brain cells following injury. In his recent collaboration with Canadian Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal scholars and the TMU team, he further discovered an important regulator that is involved with axon regeneration following brain injury.

This research will be an in-depth exploration on how these neural molecules regulate the local biosynthesis of proteins to produce cell asymmetry, how cytoskeletal mutations promote growth cone formation and crawling, and how signal transduction induces axonal guidance to help repair axons after brain injury. In addition, by clarifying these mechanisms, reasonable drugs can be designed to stimulate axon regeneration to slow down secondary neurological deficits in brain injury patients.

Senior Research Fellow Chin-An Wang, TMU Shuang Ho Hospital

Research Project: Pupillometry in Vision, Arousal and Cognition: an Integrated Approach Using Oculomotor and Autonomic Responses, Brain Stimulation, and Computational Modeling

Humans make saccadic eye movement every 200-300 milliseconds, and at the same time pupil size constantly changes mainly to adjust for global luminance of the environment. How do eye movements and pupil size coordinate to optimize visual processing? What are the neural mechanisms involved in the control of eye movements and pupil size? The superior colliculus plays an important role in not only the control of eye movements, but also pupil size.

This research is to understand the neural mechanisms of eye movements and pupil size control, and further examine how do eye movements and pupil size are modulated by sensory, cognitive, and affective processing, and how they affect visual processing. Through incorporating the computational and machine learning approach, research would further use eye movements and pupil size as behavioral biomarkers that can assist clinicians for early diagnosis and evaluation of different treatment therapies in the clinical investigation.

  • TMU Einstein Program awardees

Assistant Professor Po-Kang Yang, College of Biomedical Engineering

Research Project: Develop Low Dimensional Materials for Smart Sensing and Minimum Invasive Biomedical Technologies

Professor Yang’s research expertise is in nanomaterials fabrication, smart sensing and semiconductor devices. Previously, his main research orientation was in applying material design to develop multi-functional portable energy and sensor devices. The advantages of such devices are in their low energy consumption, lightweight and slim feature, eco-friendliness and multiple forms. His relevant research results have been published in international journals. In recent years, Professor Yang has devoted himself to the development and system integration of wearable sensor and medical components. He hopes that the development of sensor devices can be integrated to clinical needs.

This research field will cover various kinds of professions, including electronics, materials science, neuroscience, and clinical science. By integrating novel materials and microelectronics technology to develop various sensor devices, Professor Yang hopes to achieve a sensor system that is more compatible with clinical practice and real-time feedback. On the one hand, by incorporating advanced manufacturing processes, a highly sensitive sensor system can be constructed to detect physical health status in real time and coordinate with big data database analysis. On the other hand, he hopes that the sensor elements can be actually combined with medical interface and contribute practically to telemedicine, assistive medical care and point-of-care diagnosis.

Assistant Professor Malissa Kay Shaw, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Project: Dirty Bodies, Dirty Secrets, Dirty Earth: Transforming Restrictive Perceptions of Menstruation and Women’s Lives through Alternative Menstrual Products

Dr. Malissa Kay Shaw, medical sociologist and assistant professor in the Graduate Institute of Humanities in Medicine, received a three year Einstein Grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Shaw’s project, “Dirty Bodies, Dirty Secrets, Dirty Earth: Transforming Restrictive Perceptions of Menstruation and Women’s Lives through Alternative Menstrual Products” will explore the diverse images and meanings surrounding menstrual cups, a relative new device designed to collect menstrual blood in a safer, more environmentally friendly, and economical way. In her two-part study, Dr. Shaw, will first explore the diverse perceptions and ideologies that the more than 70 (primarily women run) companies producing menstrual cups around the globe have of their produce. The second phase will involve a comparative study of the experiences of two menstrual cups companies, one in Taiwan and another in Colombia, and the women who use their products.

Dr. Shaw’s research has long focused on women’s health, embodiment, and gender dynamics from her doctoral research at the University of Edinburgh on women’s experiences of assisted reproductive technologies in Colombia to her current MOST project on women’s experiences of pelvic examinations in Taiwan. This new study will continue this trend as it aims to explore the various messages menstrual cup companies portray and how these messages are positioned within broader concerns for women’ health in the local context; how women perceive these concerns, how they experience using a menstrual cup, and, ultimately, how this use alters their experience of menstruation; and how broader social dynamics are being transformed (in specific contexts) through the production and use of menstrual cups.

Assistant Professor David J. Lundy, College of Biomedical Engineering

Research Project: Implantable Porous Microtube Cell Reservoir for Sustained Paracrine Therapy of Ischaemic Diseases

Assistant Professor David J. Lundy received his Bachelor degree in Biomedical Sciences and his PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Durham, United Kingdom. In 2013, he moved to Taiwan and spent four years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Academia Sinica. Now he is Assistant Professor in the Graduate Institute of Biomedical Materials and Tissue Engineering at Taipei Medical University.

This newly-funded research project will investigate new methods for improving outcomes of cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death in Taiwan and other developed countries. Stem cell therapy holds great promise for tissue regeneration, but there are still many problems with cell delivery and retention at the desired site. Through combining a newly-discovered stem cell population and a specially designed biocompatible material, Prof. Lundy’s research group hopes to improve on the current standard of cell therapy, as well as better understanding the mechanisms behind this therapy.

For this project, Prof. Lundy will collaborate with researchers from the United Kingdom, as well as a biotechnology company in Taiwan. He would like to express his gratitude to the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology for awarding this huge opportunity.