Virginia Tech updates CAD lab

Blue Ridge Business Journal

Monday, November 15, 2010

Technology briefs

Program to Grant Biotech Funds

Virginia Tech has unveiled an updated computer-aided design lab in Randolph Hall.

The lab is open to all students, faculty and staff.

The CAD lab, which originally opened in 1983, has 28 new Quad core Intel i7 Mac computers. The Macs can also run Windows 7 and have software that is unavailable or too expensive for students to have on their laptops. The lab can multilink with partner universities around the country through webcam and videoconferencing equipment on larger screens.

The lab's funding averages $50,000 a year. The recent room renovation was funded by the mechanical engineering department and the new student engineering fee, and the equipment upgrade was paid for by Virginia Tech Learning Technologies and the Partners for Collaborative Engineering Education.

Researchers study oil spill effects on shorebirds

Virginia Tech has received $3.4 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill on shorebirds.

Tech is studying piping plovers, which have been listed as a threatened species since 1986. The Tech team began working on the grant application right after the oil spill, and as soon as it was funded sent two boats and crews to the Gulf. A team of 28 researchers from the U.S. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife collected data on-site.

The study will measure survival and migration patterns of the plovers in oiled and oil-free areas. When the research is completed, it will provide data that litigators can use for damage lawsuits and restoration efforts.

Program to grant biotech funds

Six biotech firms in Southwest Virginia have received federal grants through a program designed to make the United States more competitive in biological sciences.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 provided that grants be given to firms with "significant potential to produce new and cost-saving therapies, support jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness," according to the Internal Revenue Service, which is helping allocate $1 billion in grants and tax credits for the government's Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project.

OcuCure Therapeutics of Roanoke, which is developing an eyedrop to treat age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy, received $244,479. The same amount went to Revivicor Inc. of Blacksburg to advance its work in regenerative medicine.

Synthonics Inc. of Blacksburg received $633,797 to advance its drug work based on proprietary metal-coordination chemistry.

Blacksburg-based Techulon received $132,620 "to support its research and development into biodegradable transfection reagents used to deliver cell-based therapies for cancer and other diseases," a company news release said.

Axon Nutritionals Inc. of Blacksburg, which is focused on nutritional supplements, received $8,500. Ocular Optics Inc. of Roanoke, which develops vision products, received $244,479.

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