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Penn Engineering’s Drs. Haim H. Bau and Changchun Liu to Receive 2015 One Health Award

By: John Donges Date: Oct 27, 2015

[October 27, 2015; Philadelphia, PA] – Haim H. Bau, PhD, and Changchun Liu, PhD, of the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at the University of Pennsylvania have been named the 2015 recipients of Penn’s One Health Award, recognizing their exemplary contributions to expanding interdisciplinary collaboration and improving health care for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment. The One Health Award was established in 2013 by the deans of the four health schools at Penn—the Perelman School of Medicine (Penn Medicine), the School of Nursing Science (Penn Nursing), the School of Dental Medicine (Penn Dental), and the School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet).

The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:00 p.m. at Penn Vet’s Hill Pavilion (380 S. University Ave., Philadelphia), as part of the 2015 Microbiome Symposium.

Bau and Liu have worked for several years with researchers at Penn Medicine, Penn Vet, and Penn Dental to develop an inexpensive, high sensitivity platform for molecular diagnostics at the point of care. The platform utilizes smartphone technology and is suitable for use in resource-poor settings, the field, the clinic, and at home. Bau and Liu have used the new platform to adapt existing technologies to detect pathogens in humans, animals, food, and water.

Recently, Bau and Liu developed a novel device called the nuclemeter, which determines the concentrations of target nucleic acids based on the lengths of reaction zones in reaction-diffusion columns. The device may be particularly useful in profiling the gut microbiome.

“We are delighted to recognize the extraordinary collaborations throughout the University that take advantage of our talented faculty and students to advance health for people, animals, and the environment,” said Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, PhD, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Through their innovative platform, Drs. Bau and Liu have built bridges between our healthcare specialties for the benefit of all. Their work truly embodies the spirit of One Health.” 

From left, Dr. Haim H. Bau, Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks, and Dr. Changchun Liu

Bau is a professor of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics at SEAS. His current research interests are in nano- and macro-fluidics, with applications in biology and medicine. These applications include transporting liquids and particles through nanopipes, and constructing laboratories on chips for disease detection at the point of care. Bau is a member of the Nano/Bio Interface Center and the Institute for Medicine and Engineering, two Penn centers that bring together researchers from different Penn schools to pursue opportunities for collaborative research.

The Bau lab has worked with Penn Vet on a number of projects, including detecting drug-resistant salmonella in food matrices, diagnosing Strangles in horses, and developing a high-sensitivity field test to detect prepatent schistosomes in humans and Dirofilaria immitis in dogs.

The Bau lab also has collaborated with Penn Dental on the detection of HIV in saliva. In partnership with researchers at Penn Medicine, the Bau lab is now detecting HIV viral load in blood.

“We are fortunate to be at an institution that fosters interdisciplinary collaborations, which enabled us to apply engineering principles to important health problems in humans and animals,” Bau said.

Liu is a research assistant professor of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics also at SEAS. His research interests include microfluidic devices, BioMEMS and biosensors, and point-of-care diagnostics.

In collaboration with Penn Botswana and with support from Penn’s Center for AIDS Research, Liu is currently adapting the platform to detect meningitis in humans.

“I am excited and honored to receive the 2015 One Health Award,” said Liu. “As a mechanical engineer, I am privileged to have worked with many extremely talented and dedicated biomedical researchers at Penn. ”

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 34,600 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 6,200 patient visits a year, while our Field Services have gone out on more than 5,500 farm service calls, treating some 18,700 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.