Bioactive Materials Characterization

A state-of-the-art laboratory has been developed at North Dakota State University to facilitate the rapid discovery of biologically active coatings and materials for a variety of applications. A suite of automated tools and assays have been developed that enable the high-throughput screening (HTS) of coatings for a number of key biological responses and properties such as antimicrobial activity, anti-mold activity and biocompatibility. A variety of conventional instruments and methodologies are also available for advanced characterization of promising coating compositions identified with the HTS workflow.

The Bioactive Materials Research Laboratory (BMRL) occupies 1,500 square feet of space within the Center of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at NDSU. Approximately 1,000 square feet of laboratory space has been equipped to conduct biosafety level 2 (BSL2) research activities involving the use of a variety of pathogenic microorganisms, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans.

In addition to the HTS of biomedically-relevant coatings and materials, the BMRL possesses the unique capability to rapidly screen coatings designed to be used in the marine environment. A variety of marine fouling organisms, including bacteria, microalgae and barnacles are maintained year-round at CNSE and used for HTS. The HTS methods address both the antifouling (AF) and fouling-release (FR) characteristics of a coating. AF refers to the prevention of organisms from settling on surfaces, while FR pertains to the ease of removal of organisms that have attached to a surface. Several correlations have been established between the laboratory screening assays and ocean immersion testing, demonstrating the “real world” predictive capability of the HTS methods.

The equipment available within the BMRL includes two customized, 8-channel liquid handling robots that enables complete automation of microorganism-based HT assays, Real-Time PCR, microarray and 2-D gel scanning systems, confocal fluorescence microscope, inverted light microscope, fermentation system, electroporator, automated aquarium system and multi-well plate readers. In addition, several instruments have been built in-house to enable HTS of various biological responses to coating surfaces. The custom-built instruments include an automated water-jet apparatus designed for HTS of biofilm adhesion, a barnacle push-off tool for measuring barnacle adhesion, and an automated aerosolization apparatus to facilitate HTS of antimicrobial coatings.

Research Partners. BMRL researchers actively pursue collaborations with other academic institutions, national laboratories and corporations to develop new HTS methods and biologically active materials for a variety of applications. Examples of current collaborations include the University of Birmingham (UK), Florida Institute of Technology, Duke University, University of North Carolina, University of Michigan, Washington University, Purdue University and the US Naval Research Laboratory.

In addition to sponsored research programs, the facilities, equipment and technical expertise within the BMRL are available to interested parties as a research service. Those interested in initiating a research project or research service within the BMRL should contact one of the points-of-contact listed below.

Contact Info
Dr. Bret Chisholm, Senior Research Scientist & CMRL Director
NDSU Center for Nanoscale Science & Engineering – 701.231.5328

Shane Stafslien, Senior Research Specialist & BMRL Manager
NDSU Center for Nanoscale Science & Engineering – 701.231.5826