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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 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 1,300 square feet of space in the Research and Technology Park at NDSU. Approximately 800 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, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

In addition to the HTS of clinically-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, mussels and barnacles are maintained year-round 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 a customized 8-channel liquid handling robot that enables complete automation of microorganism-based HT assays, fluorescence microscope, inverted light microscope, 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 adhesion push-off tool, a mussel adhesion pull-off tool 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 Harvard University, MIT, University of Florida, Texas A&M, Duke University, University of North Carolina 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 the following:

Contact Info

Shane Stafslien, Senior Research Specialist & BMRL Manager
NDSU Office of Research and Creative Activity
Shane.Stafslien@ndsu.edu – 701.231.5826


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Phone: 701.231.8045
Physical/delivery address:  1735 NDSU Research Park Drive/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  P.O. Box 6050—Dept. 4000/Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 09, 2017 10:14:54 AM
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