Professor transforming orthopedic implants, celebrating 20 years of NSF funding

April 17, 2014 | News, Research, UToday, Engineering
By Samantha Watson

As baby boomers age and the general population gets more active, the need for orthopedic reconstructive implants is growing.



This increase in need as well as an industry-wide switch from metallic to polymeric implants is encouraging engineering experts like Dr. Sarit Bhaduri to look into new technologies with funding from the National Science Foundation. Bhaduri’s current project focuses on taking fundamental surface engineering technology and transforming it for use in polymer implants.

A professor in The University of Toledo’s Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department with joint appointment in dentistry, Bhaduri is working with the Michigan company Orchid Bio-Coat to innovate these technologies. The project titled “A Microwave Assisted Biomimetic Coating Technology for Polymer Implants” is funded by Bhaduri’s 11th NSF grant totaling $150,000 with an additional supplement of $15,000 to engage and train undergraduate students.

This project will continue research funded by two previous NSF grants, in which Bhaduri found a way to produce a coating similar in composition to bone mineral. The production processes for the new coating also take place in less than an hour, a relatively short time frame compared to conventional methods, making it ideal for large-scale industrial production.

“Dr. Bhaduri’s efforts contribute to all facets of our mission in the areas of teaching, research and technology transfer,” said Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering. “His research is a huge asset to our institution and our students, who have the opportunity to work alongside him in many of his endeavors.”

When Bhaduri secured the current grant from the NSF, it marked 20 years as the principal investigator of projects funded by the government agency. The co-principal investigator in the present grant is Dr. Vijay Goel, Distinguished University Professor and McMaster-Gardner Endowed Chair in Orthopedic Bioengineering.

Bhaduri’s first NSF grant as the principal investigator was awarded in 1993, when he was an assistant professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Idaho. Since then, he has secured eight NSF grants as the principal investigator and three as a co-principal investigator.

“The money is helpful, but it also brings a certain amount of prestige,” Bhaduri said. “Only the really high-quality proposals are funded.”

Bhaduri is also regularly invited by NSF and other agencies to review grant proposals. He enjoys doing this because he gets to meet colleagues in his field from the United States and Canada.

“These grants allow me to explore various innovative ideas,” Bhaduri said. “They also are a validation that my ideas are worth pursuing.”

Bhaduri’s partnership with other researchers, including Goel and Dr. Anand Agarwal, UT research professor of bioengineering and director of product development and Bio-Skills Laboratories, also has contributed to other technology transfer and commercialization initiatives on campus.

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