September 23, 2004
Vol. 24 No. 1

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    Chemist garners three awards, including White House honor

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    Rustem Ismagilov

    Rustem Ismagilov, Assistant Professor in Chemistry, has received three honors in less than a month, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the White House. The American Chemical Society also has named him a recipient of its 2005 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, while MIT’s Technology Review has listed among the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators for 2004.

    The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists honor the most promising young researchers in the nation within their fields. Eight federal departments and agencies join annually to nominate young scientists for the awards. Ismagilov’s nominating agency was the Department of Defense, for research he con-ducted under the auspices of the Office of Naval Research. Ismagilov received his Presidential Award along with 59 other researchers on Thursday, Sept. 9, in a White House ceremony.

    Ismagilov was one of 10 scientists named for the Cope Award, which recognizes and encourages excellence in organic chemistry. Announced in the Monday, Aug. 23 issue of Chemical and Engineering News, the award consists of $5,000 and a $40,000 unrestricted research grant.

    The TR100, chosen by the editors of Technology Review and an elite panel of judges, is a group of 100 individuals under age 35 whose innovative work in technology has a profound impact on today’s world.

    This year’s nominees are recognized for their contributions in transforming the nature of technology and business in industries such as biotechnology and medicine, computing and nanotechnology.

    Ismagilov specializes in understanding and controlling complex chemical and biological systems at critical times and locations using microfluidics, the flow of fluids through channels thinner than a human hair. Working with University graduate students Cory Gerdts and Helen Song, and undergraduates Michelle Bringer and Joshua Tice, Ismagilov has demonstrated how to introduce chaotic mixing inside droplets flowing through microfluidic channels.

    Chaotic mixing allows researchers to precisely control the timing of chemical reactions in studying the dynamics of complex reaction networks.

    An example of such a reaction network is hemostasis, the body’s system for maintaining blood flow. In a paper published earlier this year with Chicago graduate student Matt Runyon and undergraduate Bethany Johnson-Kerner, Ismagilov showed how microfluidics can be used to simulate blood clotting.

    The system could potentially lead to medical applications. Ismagilov sees it mainly as a system that could help researchers better understand and control other biochemical reaction networks, such as the development of an organism from a single cell, under investigation by Elena Lucchetta in his laboratory.

    In another innovation, Ismagilov and two other members of his group, Bo Zheng and Spencer Roach, developed a microfluidic method for crystallizing proteins.

    This new technology enables researchers to conduct hundreds of finely calibrated protein crystallization tests&a key component in drug development&rapidly but with minimal expenditure of manual labor and consumption of sample fluids.