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U-M and Shanghai Jiao Tong University fund 6 energy and biomedical projects; batteries, policy and fuels

Six research teams from the University of Michigan (U-M) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) have won a share of $1.16 million in funding for renewable energy and biomedical technology projects in the third year of a joint program that teams up investigators from both schools.

The energy projects chosen seek to improve electric vehicle batteries, to model the impact of renewable energy policy on the economy and the environment, and to better understand the combustion biodiesel fuels. The healthcare technology efforts are aimed at finding natural therapeutic agents in China's ecosystem, improving the treatment of sepsis, and creating a base of information on enzyme activity that could aid the development of new therapies.The energy projects are:

  • Thermodynamics and characterization of environmentally benign new generation electrodes for Li ion batteries. The goal os this project is to explore the potential of new classes of materials for making electrochemically superior, environmentally friendly, and affordable electrodes for lithium-ion batteries that may be used in such applications as electric vehicles.

    Principal investigators: David H. Sherman, U-M Life Sciences Institute; Linguan Bai and Zixin Deng, SJTU School of Life Sciences and Biology

  • Integrated energy-economy-environment (3E) modeling for clean vehicle development in China. This project will develop a model to simulate and evaluate the impacts of renewable energy policy on the economy and the environment, and to apply the model to provide policy suggestions for clean vehicle development and deployment in China.

    Principal investigators: Ming Xu, U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment; Xiaojun Hu, SJTU Energy Research Institute

  • Engineering the right fuel for sustainable transportation.This project will develop quantitative data on the combustion properties of current and emerging biodiesel fuels in order optimize biodiesel fuel performance in engine design and encourage broader use.

    Principal investigators: Margaret Wooldridge, U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering; He Lin, SJTU Department of Mechanical Engineering

The biomedical technology projects are:

  • Development of a UM/SJTU microbial natural product diversity resource for collaborative drug discovery programs. This project will discover, isolate, evaluate, and develop natural therapeutic agents derived from microorganisms found in China's terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

  • Monitoring immune dysfunctions in septic patients using integrated microfluidics. The goal of this work is to develop a novel technology that may lead to a more effective, individualized treatment of sepsis, a clinical condition arising from a patient’s immune response to severe infection.

  • High-resolution structure modeling and substrate specificity annotation of proteases using protein structure prediction and sequence screening techniques. This project will lay the groundwork for improved therapies by modeling the behavior of proteases, enzymes that play a key role in regulating cellular processes in humans.

The goal of the U-M/SJTU Collaborative Research Program in Renewable Energy Science and Technology is to develop new technologies that reduce global carbon emissions and their impact on climate change. The Collaborative Research Program in Biomedical Technologies will spur technological advances that improve human health.

This is the third year of a five-year seed phase of the programs, during which officials identify projects that have commercial potential and that are likely to attract follow-on research funding from the US and Chinese governments, as well as from industry. The universities have committed to spending up to $3 million each on their part of the collaborative research over the five-year period.

These research partnerships between U-M and SJTU are part of a broader relationship between the two schools. In 2001, U-M became the first non-Chinese academic institution approved to offer graduate engineering degrees in China, at SJTU. In 2005, U-M and SJTU formed a joint institute to manage and direct degree-granting programs offered by both universities to students of both nations.


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